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

December 18, 2002

What Matters

The other day I had a discussion with a friend on the Middle East and he said it depends on what matters. And I said, “What does matter?”.

For some, the occupation is what matters and must be ended unilaterally if necessary. History, terror, law and consequences of withdrawal are all irrelevant. Occupation is wrong, evil and immoral. It must end. Israel should get out and let the cards or bodies fall where they may. But is it that simple? Do these “moralists” really care about the occupation as they suggest or is there more afoot.

The Arabs have demonstrated time and again that they care not for the welfare of their occupied brethren having done nothing to alleviate their condition for over fifty years. What they want is to reverse the defeat of 1948 and annihilate Israel.

The EU is wedded to the “peace process” and the creation of a Palestinian State. Nothing will deflect them. Not the terror, not the avowed aim of the Palestinians to destroy Israel, not the impracticality of such a State, nor the fact that such a State will lead to further attacks on Israel, not the terms of Res. 242 of the Security Council, nor the commitments undertaken by Arafat in the letters delivered by him as part of the Oslo Accords, nor Arafat’s duplicity, not the fact that their money and political support makes the terror possible and certainly not the fact that Israel is a democracy fighting for its life. Why so? In short, Israel’s existence is of no value to them and is an irritant to its relations with the Arabs. If only Israel would disappear, life would be simpler. Europe has always embraced the Arabs and rejected the Jews. It has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with immorality. The EU wants to placate the Arabs either because they fear them within and without the EU or because they want to curry favour with them to do business with them while America boycotts them or because their opposition to Israel is a manifestation of their anti-Americanism.

The Left in Israel believes that only withdrawal will gain for Israel, perhaps greater security and a better economy, but more important, the moral high ground. The Left, in general, roots for the under dog which they for various reasons perceive to be the Palestinians. The Left is also anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-American, anti-globalization and anti-capitalist and therefore, for all these reasons, anti-Israel. To them it little matters that the Arabs stand for everything else they hate. As they say, politics makes strange bedfellows.

And then there are the anti-Semites, which can be found on the left or the right.

All these currents are present in the US. But there is one more factor that the US has to contend with and that is the war Islam or at least a radical part of Islam has declared on it. Since the over throw of the Shah in Iran over 20 years ago, America has been subject to ever increasing violence, terrorism and anti-American incitement emanating from the Arab world with the connivance and support of most Arab countries. After 9/11, America said it was mad as hell and wasn’t going to take it anymore.

Just as Israel has learned that withdrawal is a sign of weakness that will only encourage more aggression, America, which has yet to really engage the Arabs in a war and has preferred restraint, appeasement or denial, has come to the realization that a change in policy is needed. No more withdrawal. No more negotiation with those that would do them harm. No more prevarication. Only overwhelming force, resolve and determination will succeed.

The US now perceives Israel as being in the front lines of their war against terror. Accordingly it is not in America’s best interest to force Israel to withdraw or in any way reward terror. To do otherwise would totally undermine their credibility. There is only one war on terror and Israel and the US are in it together. They are joined by many other countries that have been the victims of terror.

So, to my mind that is what matters.

Ted Belman tedbel@rogers.com