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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 9/23/2002 7:53:06 AM EST
The Chicago Sun-Times September 23, 2002 Israel: No one has any better ideas Editorial http://www.suntimes.com/output/commentary/cst-edt-edits23.html If terrorists were blowing Chicagoans and suburbanites to bits on CTA buses, would Mayor Daley, Gov. Ryan and President Bush demand anything less than the harshest response? Of course not. Back-to-back terrorist bombings in Israel last week gave Prime Minister Ariel Sharon no choice but to ratchet up his campaign against terror, which had been remarkably successful in preventing bombings in the six weeks before last week's outrages. The dismantling of the Ramallah compound where Yasser Arafat is holed up with men Israel reasonably believes are involved in terror apparently was halted by criticism from the White House. But despite the negative reaction from Washington and Europe--and more can be expected today from the anti-Israel United Nations--Illinois' straight-talking Republican Rep. Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, accurately summed up the situation: ''Suicide bombing is a weapon that is pretty hard to deter. If someone has a better idea than what the Israelis are doing, I'm sure Ariel Sharon would listen to it, but right now, I would find it hard to criticize them.'' Washington's response is especially shortsighted if it ignores the larger picture. Israel is busy preparing for U.S. military action against Saddam Hussein, which almost assuredly will bring Iraqi strikes against the Jewish nation. Israel is giving smallpox inoculations to 15,000 emergency workers, increasing production of gas masks for its citizens and upgrading its anti-missile defenses. Across the country, sales of air filtration devices, bottled water and tranquilizers are robust. The U.S. military plans, coupled with continuing terror attacks, impel Sharon to redouble his struggle against terrorist elements close to home as he prepares to protect Israelis from attack by Iraq. And make no mistake about Arafat's continuing commitment to terror. The latest homicide bombings elicited the usual condemnations from Arafat and his minions against the murder of Israeli "civilians" and attacks "inside Israel." This is all code, meaning Israelis living inside the 1967 "borders," which are actually cease-fire lines established in 1949 at the end of the war by the Arab world against the UN decision establishing a two-state solution. That language means the official Palestinian line is that it's OK to target Israeli military personnel, a huge portion of the population given the Jewish nation's universal conscription, and Israeli men, women and children living in communities in disputed territories. The latter includes tens of thousands of Israelis who, if you believe the Palestinians were sincere in the 2000 peace talks, would have ended up part of Israel under land-swap proposals accepted by Arafat's negotiators--but in the end not by Arafat who we now know was never faithful to a negotiated settlement. And of course Hamas and Islamic Jihad believe all Israelis are legitimate targets. There may be a downside in that the Israelis have turned a spotlight on Arafat again. But Sharon can't let public relations interfere when the lives of Israelis are at stake. As he prepares for whatever President Bush has in mind for Saddam, we wouldn't be surprised to see even tougher measures against Hamas and Islamic Jihad, including going after Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. He's often described as the "spiritual leader" of Hamas although it's hard to see any spirituality in founding a terrorist organization dedicated to the wholesale slaughter of human beings. Bush rightly is being uncompromising in his demands on Iraq; Sharon can be no less steadfast on the Israeli front in the global war on terror.
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