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

January 10, 2003

Israeli restraint makes terrorism more likely

You wanna believe it

Jeff Jacoby writing in JWR insists on it. Here are some excerpts.

Israel reacted to Sunday's slaughter not with a devastating military assault on Palestinian positions but with mere gestures: Combat helicopters fired on a weapons factory in Gaza, Palestinian delegates were barred from traveling to a conference in London, and some West Bank colleges were temporarily closed.

But mere gestures are not going to wipe out terrorism, nor are they going to turn Palestinian hearts and minds against the terrorists. Mere gestures can only feed Palestinian contempt for Israeli weakness, and reinforce the conviction that violence pays.

In fairness it must be said that Israel is not entirely free to act in its own best interest. It is under intense pressure from the US government to do nothing that might roil the Arab world in advance of the American invasion of Iraq. But why shouldn't Israel be permitted to deal with Palestinian terrorism as the United States is dealing with Al Qaeda? Why should Washington's plan to oust Saddam Hussein and transform Iraq into a democracy prevent Israel from ousting Arafat and working a similar transformation of Palestinian society?

To demand "restraint" of Israel now, to insist that it voluntarily suppress its right to self-defense, is to make bloody atrocities like Sunday's not less likely, but more so. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Palestinian Authority and the murderers it supports must be crushed. That is the plain meaning of the Bush Doctrine, and the essential first step to peace