Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Column: Don't be fooled

Don’t let anyone fool you. The single most important issue in the upcoming American Presidential elections is the war on terror.

It’s been almost 10 years now since I was completely and totally shocked at just how insane living in a country that appeases terrorists can be.

I was living then in the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem. It is right next to the outdoor market or shuk known as Machane Yehuda. Bombs were going off everywhere in Israel and especially in Jerusalem. Jewish blood was cheap. Yitzhak Rabin was Prime Minister and Yasser Arafat was his "partner" in the "peace process." The murdered and maimed Jews, whose numbers were growing day by day, were in Rabin’s words "sacrifices for peace." "Sacrifices for peace" was not a phrase that you heard once in passing or that was coined by critics and opponents to Rabin. You heard it all the time from Rabin himself -- after every bloody attack.
Radio reporters would first give the details of the attack including the time and location and an estimate of the dead and wounded and then the coverage would shift to praises of the police and rescue units. The ambulances arrived in record time! We were supposed to be encouraged and distracted and numbed into idiocy. The fact that the rescue workers were getting better and faster and the scene of the attack was returned to normal in record time was meant to calm us down.

I remember going to the site of a bus bombing on Jaffe Road just a few hours after the attack. The street was open for traffic. Body pieces had been collected, all of them, even the smallest pieces -- in keeping with Jewish Law. The blood that had flown in the streets had been hosed down into the sewer system with fire hoses. The charred and twisted remains of the bus had been removed. There were people setting up a memorial to the murdered with fragments of the bus. Candles were lit. Prayers were said.

Life was to go on as usual. We were to be brave. Peace is not easily achieved. Sacrifices must be made. We have no other partner for peace. The victims are "sacrifices for peace." Rabin said all these things solemnly like a wise, caring father. He said them over and over again -- after every attack.

I decided to leave Jerusalem. I went down to Susiya in the Hebron Hills and worked for a friend, Yair Har Sinai, as a shepherd. There were some Arabs in the mountains and Yair had been attacked a couple of times over the course of the years that preceded my arrival. Still, I had visited there a number of times and found that I felt much better and safer with a lot of open space and a chance to defend myself then walking down a crowded street in Jerusalem. On July 2, 2001, some six years after I left Susiya, Yair was murdered in the mountains there. He was shot in the head and chest at close range.

A little more than two months after his murder, terrorists struck in America. In the days that followed I thought about something Yair had told me many times as the "Palestinians" danced and sang on the blood of 3000 Americans. He spoke Arabic fluently and he had some contact with the local Arabs. "The Arabs are obsessed with destroying America," he said. For them, I knew, 9/11 was just a hopeful start -- a start that would know no end -- unless America reacted much differently than Israel had.

Fortunately, for the whole world, America began to fight.
Since then, the American administration, under President Bush, has shown that it understands the threat of Islamo -- fascist terror. It has acted boldly to take the initiative to eliminate the threat in spite of European and UN criticism. John Kerry has said that he will win back global favor for America. That favor was lost to a degree when President Bush began to defeat the terrorists that Europe and the UN would either ignore or assuage. That global favor must by definition come at the expense of the war effort -- and that could be very expensive indeed -- for the whole world.


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