Editorial – April 2003
By Roland S. Süssmann - Editor in Chief
The Anti-American Obsession is the title of the most recent book by Jean-François Revel, a member of the prestigious French Academy of Letters. In the light of recent events, the title could have been The Anti-Israeli Obsession. Indeed, demonstrations ostensibly for peace have rapidly turned into protests hostile to the Jewish state and overtly anti-Semitic. The hordes of “peace activists”, decked out in kaffiyehs, the symbol of Arab terrorism, have reinforced their message by marching beneath Israeli flags sullied by Nazi swastikas painted in black over the Star of David. The moral perversion of the attempt to compare Jews to Nazis has been done with the active collaboration of the intellectual and political classes. These groups, under the fictitious banner of “Peaceful Anti-Americanism”, have joined together with racist-nationalists, communists who still support repressive regimes, Moslems and their fellow travelers who support the Arab cause, as well as the anti-globalization crowd. When it comes to crucifying Israel, ideological differences are very quickly forgotten. Cynicism and hypocrisy are in fashion, since none of these pacifists have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the suicide bombings in Israel, which in 30 months have claimed the lives of about 800 Jews and have seriously injured more than 5,200.
In this situation, what should our attitude be?
The “Peace” demonstrations of recent weeks have clearly demonstrated that we Jews can expect no good from the “peace camp” organizations. Therefore the choice for our camp is clear: we must say yes to American intervention in Iraq.
Yes because we must not be confused as to who is the enemy. Those who wish for our disappearance and for the destruction of the State of Israel, to be replaced by an Islamic democracy, are not the Americans but the Arab and Islamic world, supported in this effort by Europe. Within Europe more and more voices are heard claiming that the creation of Israel was a mistake that must be corrected, gradually but elegantly.
Yes to an uncompromising global war (including in Syria) against terrorism, which has never defended a just cause, whose objective is to replace democracy with dictatorship and anarchy. Let us bear in mind that Iraq has been directly involved in the atrocities, suicide or other, that have taken place over the last two and a half years in Israel. Contrary to the myth, Arab terrorism is not the weapon of the weak, the frustrated and the humiliated. Fundamentalist Islam is led by academics, people who in the chancelleries and salons of Europe are considered cultured and moderate. To deny this is to forget that Bin Laden is an engineer, his aide Dr. Ayman Zawahiri is a very fashionable physician, and Mohammed Atta, who directed the attack on the World Trade Center, is an architect of international renown. Throughout the Arab world radical Islam is making inroads amongst the governing classes, the intelligentsia and business people. At the level of the ordinary citizens manipulation is as simple as poverty and illiteracy are extreme, including in Egypt, which has been at peace with Israel for 24 years. That country’s most popular singer, Shahan Abdel Rahim, has sold 5 millions copies of his disk “I hate Israel”.
Yes because intervention in Iraq reminds the world that terrorism, of which the Jewish population of Israel has been victim, has nothing to do with a struggle for freedom or with resistance to occupation. It is in fact the most cowardly and treacherous form of murder and mutilation of Jewish Israelis, irrespective of whether they are babes in arms or old-age pensioners.
Yes because there is no difference between an act of terrorism perpetrated in New York, Bali, Djerba or Jerusalem.
Yes because six million of our own were slaughtered because yesterday the Europeans endorsed Hitler’s accession to power, and it would be intolerable to let them shield Saddam today.
And finally yes because by his intervention in Iraq, George W. Bush has reminded the world that there is a difference between Good, represented by objective truth, and Evil, symbolized by “moral relativism”, which accords Saddam and Arafat the right to hold different opinions and use different methods, and to perpetrate massacres to make themselves understood. In this respect, it must be asked why the treatment reserved for Saddam is not given to Arafat too? Is he entitled to a chunk of Israel, to an army and to astronomical sums of money because he only kills Jews?
But our yes, if unconditional in support of intervention in Iraq and its ideological underpinnings, must remain crystal clear and cannot constitute a carte blanche for new international pressure on Israel. There is every indication that if the US is determined to carry out its struggle against terrorism to the bitter end, it will not be minded to implement fully the process of democratization, because it will want to leave friendly potentates in place. America has always had a Middle Eastern policy riddled with contradictions and paradoxes, which varied according to its interests at any given moment. It has been consistent on just one point: to see the Jewish towns and villages of Judea, Samaria and Gaza eradicated and their Jewish inhabitants expelled. On the other hand, no Administration has clearly expressed the significance of the idea recently included within a statement by George W. Bush: “The Arab states must oppose terrorism and support the emergence of a peaceful and democratic Palestine, whose declared aim shall be to live in peace with Israel”. In plain language, does this mean that the US will take the necessary steps amongst its Arab allies, notably Saudi Arabia and Egypt, in order that they stop financing terrorism? Will it also require theses states to absorb the Arab refugees, who have been kept festering as a political weapon against Israel? We should be very concerned that American demands of the Arabs are not only limited to accepting a shop-soiled anti-Semite as Prime Minister installed by the PLO, without even demanding that this organization provide itself with a responsible leadership. In a word, just some political cosmetics will suffice. The new “Road Map” has incidentally been drawn up on this basis.
Whatever the outcome of the operation in Iraq, Israel will be faced with problems. Its new government will not take unreasonable risks for the sake of American interests in the region. The recent defeat of the Left has demonstrated the bankruptcy of the idea of land for some hypothetical and automatic peace. All negotiations that will require concessions by Israel must be preceded by a serious demonstration of the desire for peace on the part of Arab leaders. They must acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and its fundamental right to self-defense, a right all too often questioned, even by the USA. Israel will also reject any form of linkage between a solution to the Iraq question and its future relations with those Arabs living in Israel in areas controlled by the PLO.
In these confused times one thing is certain: we have the privilege of living in an epoch in which a Jewish state exists. It is our responsibility to help it flourish economically by increasing our investments, and on the spiritual level by supporting Jewish education.
The entire team at SHALOM wishes you an excellent Pessach festival.
Roland S. Süssmann
Editor in Chief – April 2003