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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

November 29, 2002

Israelis Enter The Broader War On Terror

The latest violence may or may not be related to al Qaeda but it's clear that Israels enemies are multiplying and U.S. call for restraint are inappropriate. For political reasons we can't have Israel as a direct partner -- it would alienate Arab countries that are supporting our overthrow of Saddam -- but we can cut them loose.

In the past I've considered Israel's obsessive focus on Arafat to be misplaced, and still think that way. If a member of Islamic Jihad commits an act of terror the Israeli's should pursue Islamic Jihad relentlessly and make their destruction a priority. Same goes for Hamas and the al Aqsa Martyr's Brigades, which are affiliated with Arafat's fatah movement. My point is, keeping Arafat trapped in his headquarters when Hamas commits an act of terror makes no sense. In this case, go after Hamas and capture or kill all of its members. That's what we are doing with al Qaeda and Israel should be allowed to do no less.
Within hours of Thursday's terrorist bomb attack on the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Kenya, Hercules C-130 transporters were trundling down the runway at Mombasa airport, bringing in Israeli medical teams, and military and intelligence personnel.

Israel had been thrust into the heart of the U.S.-led war on terrorism -- something the Bush administration has been trying to prevent.

There was still no confirmation Friday as to who was responsible for the suicide bombing of the beachfront hotel. At least 15 were killed, including three young Israeli tourists, and some 80 were injured.

Also unknown is the hand behind the simultaneous surface-to-air rockets fired at an Israeli charter plane as it took off from Mombasa airport. But the immediate reaction of some terrorism experts was that the hotel attack bore the hallmarks of a carefully planned operation by Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist organization.

They compared it to the devastating nightclub bombing in Bali last month in which 180 tourists perished, mostly Australians, and which the Indonesian authorities have linked to the tentacular terrorist organization.

If the Paradise bombing is the work of al Qaida, it will be the first time the terrorist organization has carried out an attack against Israelis.

It will also bear out recent declarations purporting to come from Saudi-born renegade bin Laden and other senior al Qaida figures that Israelis would be targeted because of their government's treatment of the Palestinians.

But even if the attack is not conclusively linked to al Qaida, it will still have drawn the Israelis into a wider war on terrorism -- George Bush's war, as distinct from the endless bloodletting at home in Israel against Palestinian militant groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.

We need to cut the Israelis loose and instruct them to stay focused on the organizations that perpetrate acts of terror. Pursue them relentlessly and by all means destroy them. But keep your eye on the ball.