We all remember September 11, 2001. Most of us will never forget where we were when we heard about the 18 terrorists who flew planes into the two World Trade Center Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania-killing almost 3,000 people. We will never forget the horrifying images of planes crashing into the Twin Towers. Certainly family members of the victims will never forget the day.
No doubt that day changed America’s history. We will forever be on guard against future incidents. Would you like to live in a country, however, that has been a victim of countless terrorist incidents since its very founding? Would you feel at peace knowing that any day someone you love might be killed in such an incident or that you might be killed? Israel has known what it is like to be the victim of terrorism, sometimes on a daily basis, for a lot longer than the United States of America-and the terrorism has been so strong that country’s very survival has been at stake.
While America has had a long history of being Israel’s strongest ally, nevertheless since the war in Iraq President Bush has made comments about Israel showing restraint when attacked by terrorists, and those comments are wrong. I may generally support President Bush and his policies, but Israel has as much right to defend itself as does America.
Before we consider some of President Bush’s comments, let us consider some of the history of terrorism against Israel. Even before the founding of Israel in 1948 terrorists carried out waves of bombings, riots, and murders against Jews from 1936-1939, and we know about the six million Jews Hitler murdered. After the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel was again targeted within occupied territories with terrorism that mainly, but not solely, consisted of bombings. How many of us remember the group “Black September,” that kidnapped and then murdered Jewish athletes who had been at the 1972 Summer Olympics to participate for Israel? This incident followed a wave of bombings, massacres in synagogues, airports, and airplane hijackings across Europe-all aimed at the country of Israel. I could go on and on with other examples that have continued until this present day-despite supposed peace treaties between Israel and its neighbors.
I can certainly agree with President Bush in the official government website www.whitehouse.gov , in a press release that referred to terrorism against Israel which said, “Terrorism must be stopped. No nation can negotiate with terrorists. For there is no way to make peace with those whose only goal is death.”
I also agree with him when he said in the same April 2002 press release that “The Chairman of the Palestinian Authority has not consistently opposed or confronted terrorists. (I might add that recently the Palestinian people elected leaders from a terrorist organization that still calls for the destruction of the state of Israel.) At Oslo and elsewhere Chairman Arafat renounced terrorism as an instrument of his cause, and he agreed to control it. He’s not done so.”
I can certainly agree with President Bush in all of this. I certainly laud the way he has protected America from terrorism. I certainly consider Israel our dearest friend in the Middle East, even though I do understand why we need other friends there too. I am certainly grateful for all the military support America has given Israel down through the years.
Beyond those things, however, I disagree with many of the comments our President has made about Israel and terrorism. He is right that Israel must defend itself and that the Palestinian territory must not be a haven for terrorists, but that Israel’s neighbors should be treated with respect. He is right that non-terrorists in the area should not be treated the same way as terrorists and that the area needs to be economically stable. He has treated Israeli response to terrorism so much differently than America’s in many ways, however.
“For seven days it (Israel) has acted to root out terrorist nests,” President Bush said in the same press release. “America recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself from terror. Yet, to lay the foundations of future peace, I ask Israel to halt incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas, and begin to withdraw from those areas it has recently occupied.”
He then went on to say taking such action would show Israel was really on the side of peace. As much as I respect President Bush, those comments were ludicrous! Would America be expected to pull away from areas where we are attacking, capturing, and killing terrorists? Would we be expected to leave before the job was done? Maybe others in the world would expect such an action, but certainly American citizens should not! Israel should no more be expected to roll over and play dead for the terrorists than the United States should!
He has made comments like that over and over while our own war against terrorism is going on, and I hope Israel ignores them over and over. As strong a friend as the United States has been, Israel can never let itself be a sitting duck for terrorists just so the United States can gain Arab allies in the American War on Terrorism!
In an article, Two Different Wars on Terrorism, by Lisa Katz, the differences between the American War on Terrorism, and the war on terrorism being fought by Israel were clearly pointed out. America is fighting to prevent future attacks, but Israel is fighting for its survival as a nation. Israel is just trying to bring the level of violence to a level that negations for peace can be meaningful, while America is trying to destroy terrorist networks that would attack our country. A large percentage of Israelis feel they could be the victims of a terrorist attack, while a small percentage of Americans were the victims of September 11, 2001, and most Americans probably feel they will never be the victim of a terrorist attack. The terrorist enemies of Israel are only a few miles from its border, while the terrorist enemies of the United States are in large part half a world away. Israel’s military capabilities have not increased because of financial concerns, while the Homeland Security Department was just created in the United States. Many countries have supported America’s War on Terrorism, but not Israel’s.
I hope that just one person reading this might consider that America is not the only country that is the victim of terrorism. May we learn to support everything Israel does to fight against terrorism the same way we would support protecting our own country.