The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly commends the comments made by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates during his press conference in Israel yesterday. He was appearing with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak one day after a vicious Palestinian terrorist bomb attack against civilians in Jerusalem killed one person and injured dozens of others. Secretary Gates said:
I would start by joining President Obama in condemning yesterday’s terrorist bomb attack in Jerusalem, as well as the rockets and mortars fired into Israel from Gaza in recent days and even today. The thoughts and condolences of the American government and the American people are with the victims and their families. We underscore that Israel, like all nations, has the right to self-defense and to bring justice to the perpetrators of these repugnant acts.
While the meeting between Secretary of Defense Gates and Defense Minister Barak was underway, even more Palestinian terrorist rockets were fired from Gaza against Israeli civilians, underscoring the continued security threat from Hamas-controlled Gaza, and the danger of the unprecedented stockpiles of advanced missiles present in Hizzbollah-controlled Lebanon.
Secretary Gates also said:
every time I visit Israel, I’m reminded of the extraordinary challenges the Jewish people have overcome throughout their history, the tremendous accomplishment that the state of Israel represents and the importance of our alliance to ensuring Israel’s security No sovereign state can tolerate having rockets fired at its people.
ZOA President Morton A. Klein said, ZOA strongly commends the remarks made by Secretary Gates in Israel yesterday. His recognition and clear elucidation of the security threat the people of Israel face is appreciated. Civilian targeted rocket attacks from Gaza and shrapnel laden bombs planted by terrorists to maximize civilian casualty are indicative of the Palestinian Authoritys (PA) unceasing glorification of terrorists and incitement and inculcation of hatred, violence and extremism in the PA-controlled, media, mosques, schools and youth camps.
ZOA appreciates that Secretary Gates recognizes that it is the first duty of every sovereign government to protect its people from threats to its national security. No country can accept having missiles and mortars routinely lobbed over its border. The continued smuggling and stockpiling of weapons by Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon must be stopped. Equally important, the unabated incitement to hatred and murder by the Palestinian Authority must be immediately ended. This incitement is a violation of the terms of every accord and agreement the Palestinians have pledged adherence to, and it is the duty of the international community to pressure them to put an immediate end to this activity, and to make any continued financial, material or diplomatic support contingent on this most basic compliance.
Comments like this from Secretary Gates remind us that the US and Israel share common Western values of liberty, as well as a shared security vision for combating the threats of violent extremism and the terrorism it engenders in the region.