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Israel by Armstrong Williams

This year would have marked the first time as a columnist that I did not write an Easter commentary.

I have been distracted and distraught over the situation in the Middle East; rarely do I now possess hope for peaceful solutions.

Having spent time in Israel, talked to military leaders, scholars and members of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), I am deeply sensible to the violence that threatens to pull apart the birthplace of modern religion. Just the thought of the destruction that is going on there now saddens my spirit.

We are witnessing the end of what has been known for centuries as the Holy place.

For this destruction, there is no shortage of blame. Israeli officials shake their fists at Arafat for engineering the violent outbursts as a bargaining device for future peace talks. Palestinians regard the Israeli soldiers who retaliate on civilians as Devils-an image that still occurs in their textbooks.

Let me say emphatically that Yasser Arafat is a terrorist, no different from the terrorists who smashed their planes into the World Trade Center on September 11. He funnels state resources into the wanton murder of Israeli civilians. Arafat is the Palestinian's Bin Laden.

When Ehud Barak was Prime Minister of Israel, he offered to relinquish most of the land Israel acquired in 1967, thereby uprooting thousands of Israeli citizens in exchange for peace. It was a hugely generous offer. Arafat balked.


Because Arafat and the Palestinians will not be satisfied until Israel ceases to exist. That is their only understanding of a peaceful resolution. Their suicide bombers give the game away. What, after all, does appeasement mean to a suicide bomber? Plainly, the Palestinians are engaged in an all or nothing proposition.

And so the peaceful offerings of Barak have again devolved into an all too familiar scene: Cars smashed, burning rubble, mourners dragging themselves across the sands in grim funeral processions. Palestinian children chant, "I want to be a martyr." Families on both sides of the conflict prepare daily to kill strangers.

Geographically removed from the situation, it is easy for American media personalities to talk of the need for restraint.

But can you imagine any U.S. political or media figures using the 9-1-1 attacks as a platform to tote peace and restraint? Of course not! Our political and military leaders have decided to eradicate those terrorists who attacked our country, with the hope that by removing their anti-human agenda, we might vindicate those societies that respect basic human rights. Our very enactment of our war against terrorism shows a commitment to peace, by virtue of securing those social orders that are bound up in basic human rights.

It is no surprise that Israeli leaders are now considering a similar stance. That is, they are considering using their considerable military might to eradicate the Palestinian's ability to wage this terrorist war.

Given our own recent experiences with terrorists, why should the United States expect Israel to stand pat and endure continuous terrorist assaults? How dare we pressure them to sit back and simply watch as their mothers, father and children are destroyed?

The Israelis know all to well that measured responses - like temporary agreements - will not procure peace.

Just as American leaders knew that measured responses to the terrorist who attacked us on September 11, would only embolden our enemies.

It is time for Israel to take a page from America's book, and defend themselves by any means necessary.

Armstrong Willimas can be contacted via e-mail at:

Armstrong Williams

Monday, April 1, 2002

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