On Israel’s duty to defend

The State of Israel has an unequivocal right and obligation to defend its citizens. On that basis, it is perfectly justified in its current security sweep in the disputed territories. This is an unfortunate but necessary step for Israel to take, since its civilians are being targeted in brutal terrorist attacks. Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, has thus far been completely unwilling to crack down on terrorism in any kind of meaningful way. Worse, he is plainly supporting a great deal of it directly.

The stakes have recently been getting much higher for Israel, as the terrorist organizations become more efficient in their murder. The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), for example, killed 40 Israelis and wounded 200 in two of its most recent attacks. Israel cannot be expected to stand by idly while its citizens are butchered in increasingly destructive attacks.

The prevailing Palestinian sentiment is that Israel needs to withdraw in its security exercises first before peace can be achieved. However, as has been the case countless times before, there actually was a clear cease-fire that Israel was abiding by over the Passover holiday last week. During the religious ceremony of the Passover seder, a Palestinian suicide bomber ran into a hotel banquet hall. He blew himself up along with 26 innocent men, women and children on one of the most sacred Jewish holidays. Including the Passover attack, seven Palestinian suicide bombers struck Israelis within seven days.

The Palestinian Authority, in response to these attacks, failed to make any significant effort to halt or even call for an end to the murderous attacks. Since the Authority effectively demonstrated that it was still not interested in peace, Israel was forced to take matters into its own hands by doing what any responsible Palestinian leader who wanted peace would do: crack down on the terrorists and terrorist activity from within these territories.

Many people outside Israel hear Palestinians calling for an end to Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Many students at liberal American colleges eagerly parrot these cries and argue that terror attacks would cease once Israel withdraws from the territories. One must presume that they fail to understand that, to a significant portion of the Palestinian population, the territories don’t mean only the West Bank and Gaza, they also include Haifa, Jaffa, Netanya and Jerusalem. These people want, and have always wanted, nothing less than the complete destruction of Israel.

If Israel withdraws from the territories it defensively captured in the 1967 Six Day war, will the Palestinians be satisfied and will the terror attacks end? Anyone who believes that should be reminded that Yasir Arafat has been trying to “liberate” Palestine via his Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since 1964. 1964 is three years before Israel had even set foot in the territories. Arafat’s PLO was then, and is today, a terrorist organization bent on breaking Israel by killing its citizens.

The Palestinian and Arab forces of five nations tried to destroy Israel in the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973. And that is a major motive of the Palestinian push for the so-called “right of return” of Palestinians to Israel proper – a right they demand even with the establishment of a Palestinian state. Their logic is to destroy the Jewish character of Israel demographically. By insisting on a Palestinian state and the “right of return” for five million Palestinians into Israel proper, the Palestinians are effectively asking for two states. . . or, viewed another way, one contiguous state that would replace Israel, just as their maps already depict.

The Jewish people have, for their entire history, been locked in a struggle for survival. After the Holocaust, in which their people were nearly annihilated, Jews have looked towards Israel as a place in which they would not be dependent upon a larger society and thus would not be subject to destruction by virulent anti-Semitic violence.

Unfortunately, their hopes for peace and normalcy have not yet been met. Every individual and every nation has a right to self-defense against enemies with murderous intent. To deny Israel that right is akin to anti-Semitism, because Israel is the greatest hope for survival of the Jewish people.

Perhaps New York Governor George Pataki said it best: “During the war, the Nazis sought to eliminate all Jewry. Today, the Jewish homeland, a homeland born of the Holocaust, is once again under attack. Make no mistake: the terrorists in the Middle East are not engaged in a struggle for freedom, but for the destruction of the rightful homeland of the Jewish people.”

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