Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happy Birthday, Elie on your 24th!

Elie's 24th birthday (English anyway) is today. That makes this the fifth birthday I have shared with this blog. I started it when Elie was only 19 and weeks away from the army. Today, he turns 24 and is weeks away from his first round in the Reserves. What an amazing concept. Who could have imagined the road these 5 years would take, the boy into the man. My relationship with Elie has changed so much from what it was. It stands as a reflection of how he has changed and how I have changed too.

On Elie's 23rd birthday, I wrote Elie's 23rd birthday - The Truth in the Youth - of the flotilla and Elie's ability to see humor in something that was so wrong. I wrote, "I love your sense of who you are, what you have become." That is as true today as it was then!

On his 22nd birthday, deep in the years of his army service, I wrote Happy Birthday Elie - 22 years old."The boy that was, is almost gone. He's still there sometimes, especially at home playing with his little sister; but the man leaves after the weekends and returns to base and the boy goes with him because that is the way of things. And then, some time later, it is the man that comes home, with the boy hidden deep inside. More and more it is the man I speak to on the phone, and now it is the man I will wish a happy birthday. May you live to 120 and may all your days be filled with love and life; health and happiness; friendship and pride. Happy birthday, Elie. I love you more than words could ever express. May you continue to fight for what is right and know that behind you stands a nation that is forever grateful that you and your friends stand for us." This too remains deep in my heart.

On Elie's 21st birthday, I called Elie and told him to wish me a happy birthday, as I was the one who had actually given birth. In Happy Birthday Elie - 21 years old, I wrote "Twenty-one years old - and he is where I have always wanted him to be, doing what I have always dreamed he would do. No, not just serving in an army, but being part of a country for which he cares enough to fight, living in a land to which he has dedicated his future and his present."

Elie entered the army at 19. Just a few weeks later, it was his 20th birthday - a day we spent apart. After an amazing effort by an organization who sends packages to soldiers, I was able to reach out and send him a gift. In Happy Birthday Elie - 20 years old, with tears in my eyes, I wrote the truest of words, "So, my Elie - mazel tov. May you go from strength to strength, this year and every year. May you be blessed with sweet things, happy thoughts, health and success. May we celebrate more birthdays together than apart and may you know, on all the birthdays that we aren't with you, that you are much loved."

I can't think of any better blessing to wish my amazing Elie on his 24th birthday than to return to the dreams and hopes I have quietly wished him each year. There are no words to describe my pride in him, my love of him. An amazing concept for a writer to admit and yet I do without shame or hesitation. Happy birthday, my beautiful son!

Perfect for Yom Yerushalayim - Jerusalem Day

when finally, finally - the city of Jerusalem was reunited - forever.

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; 
if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

The Heart of an Israeli

and why one so incredibly decent man chooses to stand with Israel - thank you, Wild Bill for America. Thank you.

What an incredible video - please take the time to view it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ho Hum....Another One

I can't, for the life of me, figure out why someone things you can change someone's mind by insulting them. @afrikaano - who doesn't divulge his/her name, gender or location, thinks I should "change your name in a mother of a murderer, or in a mother of a hitler look a like (genocide against palestinians"

Now, I have to confess, I didn't spend a lot of time before deciding to call this blog "A Soldier's Mother." It just sort of happened. But, I have to admit, it's a heck of a lot better, and worlds more accurate than "mother of a murderer" or even "A Murderer's Mother." As for the comment about "hitler look a like (sic)" I have to wonder if @afrikanno has ever seen a picture of Hitler, read a history book...or any book for that matter.

Perhaps what @afrikaano really needs is a dictionary, there to understand the basic difference between murder and kill. My son has likely killed - it is a very difficult thing for a mother to know. It is not something I ever really thought would happen, back in the days before he entered the army. I wasn't very realistic, but it never crossed my mind. Now it does...often. But unlike countless Palestinian mothers who pride themselves on having raised their martyred murderers, my son never committed murder, never targeted innocents, never shot without a clear and defined target that presented a clear and present danger to his unit, his fellow soldiers, or his country.

From a Biblical standpoint, one of the ten commandments is "Thou shalt not murder." Some Bibles mistakenly translate the Hebrew original text to "Thou shalt not kill" and in doing so, open themselves up to the very logical conclusion that the Bible contradicts itself. It does not. Killing is, sadly, a part of war...you avoid it when and where you can, but it is the nature of the battle and if the Palestinians wanted to avoid having their people killed, they could have avoided sending hundreds of rockets each month against Israel (this year alone, 328 rockets have been fired at Israel) and stop sending terrorists who wish to commit murder.

There are, in fact, times when we are commanded to kill - never are we commanded to murder. If someone tries to murder you, you have the moral and legal right to defend yourself - even to kill the attacker to avoid the murder.

We know that what Elie and the other soldiers did in Gaza resulted in the deaths of some Palestinians...largely combatants, but yes, even some innocents. Elie even knows the where, the how, and the why. It is something he will have to live with; something he does live with; and something that I try to live with as well.

The fundamental truth - that Israel was not aiming at civilians - is what sets us apart from the Palestinians. Our rockets were not indiscriminate. If we fired at a mosque - it was because the mosque was being used to store weapons or launch rockets. If a school was the target, it was because Palestinians were using that school  from which to hide.

As our children were hiding in bomb shelters because they WERE the target, Palestinian children were played outside, because they were not. Their parents were confident that Israel would identify their location and abort an attack. It went that way most of the time...but not always.

Elie knows of a young Palestinian boy who was killed on a Saturday morning while he was playing by a school (from which rockets were being launched). Why was that boy there, Elie has asked me several times...why on a Saturday morning in the middle of war? An artillery unit fired smoke into the air; the smoke canister fell to the earth and in a freak accident, struck the boy and killed him. The boy was not the target (trust me, there are more accurate ways to kill than using a smoke canister fired from kilometers away!). His death was a tragedy of war, the callousness of those who fired from the schoolyard, and probably a decent dose of parental negligence.

Schools in Israel were canceled; children stayed home and were kept in doors. We declared many short ceasefires during daylight hours so that the Palestinians could go out and stock up - our people never had that luxury and still we did not break the declared ceasefires. Why was the boy out there?

Yes, I know it was a stupid comment this person sent me and no, I'm not upset and no, I have no intention of changing my name or the name of this blog. I am so proud to be a soldier's mother...four plus times over. I am proud that my sons fight for Israel and confident that my army is among the most moral of armies in the world. My country did not commit murder; my son did not murder anyone.

I doubt @afrikaano will understand or admit the difference - but it matters not at all. What matters is the truth, and this I have written here in this blog, again and again.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Whose Land is it Anyway?

There is politics, and then there is dirty politics. There are promises made, and broken, on a regular basis when it comes to the world of negotiation, national, and international relations. And yet a recent incident should cause outrage because it deals not with promises, but with manipulation; not with honest negotiation but with deceit and pressure on an ally. Perhaps even, it dips into the decidedly dirty field of spying.

Decades ago, Israeli governments started promising that the city of Maale Adumim could build on land that was to be known as Mevasseret Adumim.Perhaps you may recognize it as E1, another name written on a map that does nothing to give a real picture of what is there...and what is not. The real picture is the one you see here - of barren mountains that no one ever settled. This is not an Arab village that was destroyed, but the natural growth of a beautiful city that makes the desert bloom. There on the right, you can see the edge of Maale Adumim as it exists today; and there on the left, the barren hilltop of Mevasseret Adumim.

Mevasseret Adumim, like all of Maaleh Adumim, was uninhabited before Israelis started coming to build, plant and develop it. Peace Now once claimed that 60% was owned by Palestinians - nonsense! They eventually backed down to 0.05% and even there they lack proof for that number. 

Palestinians once went to the Jordanians to claim the land - the Jordanian courts denied their claim, confirming that the area was state-owned land captured from the Ottoman Empire, mandated by the British, held by the Jordanians, and then conquered and settled by Israel.

It is one physical hilltop over from Jerusalem – the only one between the capital of Israel and its suburb, Maale Adumim.

Today, Maale Adumim is a sprawling city of close to 45,000 people, perched on several hilltops overlooking Jerusalem to the west and the Dead Sea to the east.  It has several large commercial centers including a three story mall, several post offices, many schools for all ages, large recreation areas, a city library, an emergency medical center, ambulance and fire fighting squads that respond not only to the cities needs, but to emergencies that happen for miles all around.

According to successive Israeli governments, the borders of Maale Adumim include not only the built-on areas, but several surrounding hills. This is true of many cities in Israel and is how Israeli cities are designed. First the borders of the municipality are drawn; then they begin developing each area.  One has only to travel next to the city of Modiin, for example, to see that the city is in a constant state of growth. So much so, that its residents joke that the city bird is the “crane” for all the massive building cranes that hover over the city.

Like Modiin, Maale Adumim has long been a gathering point for people who want to live near the great city of Jerusalem but welcome the more rural, suburban atmosphere. In fact, the borders of Maale Adumim actually touch the edges of Jerusalem itself – and herein lies the controversy.  On the last remaining hilltop between Maale Adumim, Arabs have decided to feel threatened. After thirty years of building, this last hilltop represents the end for them and so they virulently condemn it and threaten violence. In their eyes, building of this one last hill will remove their chances of destroying Maale Adumim itself.

Successive American governments have admitted that Maale Adumim will never be evacuated, cannot in any practical way be obliterated, nor should it. Even President Obama admits that adjustments such as including Maale Adumim, must be made for any long term peace agreement to be successful.

And again, we have reached the crux of the matter because what almost every Israeli knows, though not all are willing to admit it – the Palestinian leadership is not interested in a long-term peace agreement. At most, they want hudna – a 10 year cease-fire that their religion allows them to break at any point if it is made with a non-Muslim entity (such as Israel). 

Generations have been born on this land. What might have been had the Palestinians accepted the Partition Plan in 1947 or not instigated war after war is irrelevant. The simple fact is that no Israeli government will ever agree to remove close to 50,000 citizens spread over many kilometers from homes and neighborhoods that have grown and prospered for almost 4 decades. There were no houses, no Arab villages on the hills of Maale Adumim before it was built, nor will there ever be in the future.

A few days ago, frustrated by the lack of progress and the ongoing broken promises of many governments, some people from Maale Adumim decided to begin building the neighborhood of Mevasseret Adumim on E1 with their own hands. More symbolic than real, this was a message to the Israeli government that it was time to move forward. The plans for this neighborhood were submitted and approved long ago – a guest house, hundreds of apartments, affordable housing for young couples. Instead, only a police station and some roads have been built there.

You can agree or disagree with the unilateral action, though unilateral actions such as the withdrawal from Gaza, the recent opening of the Rafiah border by the Egyptians and the promised declaration of a Palestinian state in September seem to be much more controversial than a dozen teenagers erecting some tents in the middle of an area long since declared as a Jewish neighborhood.

What is more interesting and telling, however, is the reaction of the American government and more the actions of the US Consulate in Jerusalem.

American officials arrived to review what the teenagers had built. They took pictures, lied about who they were, though they were stupid enough to arrive in vehicles registered to the US Consulate and did nothing to hide their true identities. A short time later, Israeli security forces arrived to destroy the temporary structures they had built. This is not unexpected and is yet another step in the “game” played by those who wish to make a statement and those who wish to stop them. More sinister, however, is the American visit to the area.

Why did they come there? Why were they taking pictures? Why did they lie about who they were? What business is this lone mountain to these American officals? For the American government, there are questions to be answered – what legal right did they have to visit that location? One wonders how the American government would feel if Israelis started visiting controversial sites in the US in the middle of a sensitive situation? Doesn’t this amount to spying on an ally and trying to influence its internal affairs? Whose land is it, anyway?

For the Israeli government, they should be calling in the US Ambassador to Israel and demanding an explanation. That it fails to do this, suggests the visit was in some way approved, or at very least influential in getting the police to come and disrupt what had been done. One cannot call the police visit so shortly after the American visit a coincidence. Surely , the Israeli government has not outsourced the job of inspecting our land to the Americans, has it? Does the American Consulate now have the right to dictate how the Israeli government treats its citizens and when it chooses to handle internal matters?

For all Israelis, this is a wake-up call. Big Brother Obama is watching and wants us to know it. It is the Obama government’s way of putting pressure on all of us, trying to make us believe that which we know is not true. The future of this land does not rest in Washington’s hands, nor those of the American Consulate. No matter how much they demand it, peace cannot be granted by the threats and blackmail of a line drawn in the sand.

What were the Americans doing there? Why did they come and feel comfortable enough to make their presence obvious? Why did they take pictures? What have they done with them? Why did they feel it necessary to claim they were the police? Those are questions the Netanyahu government must answer. This is an outrage that every Israeli should feel. We are a sovereign nation, not a puppet of Washington. Those Americans had no business trespassing on land allocated to Maale Adumim in an attempt to influence how and when our government would react.

The message to the Americans must be clear: it is NOT your place, not your land, not your plan that will bring peace because the dancing partner you have chosen for us is busy dancing with Hamas. The message must be made clear to the Netanyahu government: if you are not strong enough to answer the Americans and handle their pressure, you have no business leading this land.

Whose land is it anyway? Every day, as the community in Maale Adumim grows and supports those who stay on E1, we answer that question loudly and clearly. 

GPS in Israel

Sometimes, I am amazed at how normal our every day life is here. There are such misconceptions. I once had someone complain about how we forced Palestinians to live without electricity and still, in this day and age, to use outhouses. WHAT???? I asked the person. Are you completely stupid?

I posted back pictures of some of the mansions in Arab areas - and told him that the Arabs that worked near my home often carried not one...but TWO cellular phones! I explained how their cars are often more expensive than ours...because we pay import taxes of 100%! I was in shock! I couldn't believe the propaganda these people believed. There is running water, electricity - television, telephones, fax machines. They have beautiful mansions and use the same building materials we do. Outhouses? Not even close!

Even with a statement from the United Nations - certainly no one can accuse the UN of being pro-Israel! - even the UN admits that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza - and still, still people complain about the lack of "humanitarian aid" in Gaza! There are malls...fully stocked and selling luxury items...in Gaza. What...what are you talking about? I have often written back to people who write to me about the "poor" Palestinians and their so-called poverty.

I often marvel at world perceptions compared to every day realities...and now, well, I downloaded a GPS program for my new Blackberry phone. You can configure it to select various routes. The first few questions I expected; the last, I did not.

Dirt roads, it asks? And the default is "don't allow"  - smart device. My Honda Civic is pretty low to the ground, so no, thanks - no dirt roads.

Minimize turns is set to "OFF" - honestly, I've been driving for a long time, I can handle turns and when you live in a small country like Israel - you either turn, or end up in the water or enemy territory really quickly.

Avoid highways is set to "OFF" - why would I want to avoid highways?

Avoid toll-roads is set to "OFF" - really, there are only two in the whole country and not that big a deal.

Avoid areas under Palestinian Authority supervision is set to "ON." Isn't that funny? I'm willing to bet that the Arab GPS programs don't have a corresponding setting to avoid Israeli roads. I'm relatively sure a Palestinian driver stumbling into Israel has much less to fear than an Israeli accidentally stumbling into Ramallah or any other Palestinian city.

I guess that is reality here. I know what sometimes happens when an Israeli car accidentally drives into these areas. On a good day, you are quickly escorted out by Palestinian security and met by Israeli security that has come to save you. On a bad day...on a bad day, your car is surrounded, stoned and your very life in danger.

So, yes, I'll leave that "ON" as the default setting and know that peace will come to the Middle East when the default for that setting can be set to "OFF." For all that Obama talks of peace in the Middle East, he has less understanding than my phone about what life is really like here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Israel's Borders - The truth...in pictures

I really don't think you can argue with this explanation - truly a brilliant video...

A Mother's Heartbreak

I've written often about Gilad Shalit over the last few years - too much and never enough. It is coming up on five years...five years. Two years ago, I wrote a list...the list has only gotten longer. What have you done in the last five years? How has your life changed....

  • We sold a house.
  • We bought a house.
  • Our daughter met someone special, got engaged and married.
  • Our son second son met someone special, got engaged and married.
  • One oldest son went into the army, went to war, and was discharged (to continue with Reserve duty for the next 20 years).
  • Another son went into the army.
  • Our third son reached the age of bar mitzvah...the day after Elie returned from the Gaza War.
  • Our youngest daughter entered school...and is now in fifth grade - all of elementary school has passed her by as Gilad sits in captivity.
  • We adopted two wonderful brothers...and saw each into and out of the army.
  • We bought a car and sold it, and bought another (in defense, the first was a lemon).
  • We graduated an additional 150 students from our technical writing class...spread over 12 courses - all in the last five years.
  • We welcomed our first grandchild into the world.
I'm sure the list could go on but the point remains. Always, Gilad remains.

And to balance this horrible situation, today's newspaper carries  the text of a letter written by 12th graders of a military academy that will graduate and enter the army this coming August. They write, "If we are taken captive, don't release murderous terrorists." They write of their love for Gilad Shalit but add that Israel cannot afford to release terrorists in exchange for him. 

It is a sobering message from boys on the brink of tomorrow...today, they are teenagers but they know in a few months, they will walk the same path the Elie walked, Yaakov, Shmulik, Chaim...and Gilad. Elie and Yaakov and Chaim have finished the army - Shmulik will soon finish. Gilad remains suspended in time.

So this post is a mixed message - of Gilad, of these boys, of  my sons. I have no answers that I have not written before - only another mother's heartbreak and the wish that things would change, that mountains would move, that the nations of the world would demand Gilad's release.

Words...words are never enough. We must bring Gilad home...and do it without endanger these brave young men, about to start their service to our nation.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Speech for Obama

Bibi Netanyahu is an amazing speaker - few can dispute that. Much of Israel is smiling today after hearing his strongly speak back to President Obama and address the US Congress, where he got rave reviews and a standing ovation. You can find his speech all over the Internet...but maybe it is also worth reading this one.

It was given to the US Congress - on September 24, 2001 - just days after the world was shocked by the barbaric terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Here's the text of that speech - it is quite riveting...both for what it says about the world then...and about the world now. It's very long...but it's a heck of a speech.

Bibi Netanyahu - September 24, 2001

Distinguished representatives, I want to thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. I feel a profound responsibility addressing you in this hour of peril in the capital of liberty.

What is at stake today is nothing less than the survival of our civilization. There may be some who would have thought a week ago that to talk in these apocalyptic terms about the battle against international terrorism was to engage in reckless exaggeration. No longer.

Each one of us today understands that we are all targets, that our cities are vulnerable, and that our values are hated with an unmatched fanaticism that seeks to destroy our societies and our way of life.

I am certain that I speak on behalf of my entire nation when I say: Today, we are all Americans. In grief, as in defiance. In grief, because my people have faced the agonizing horrors of terror for many decades, and we feel an instant kinship with both the victims of this tragedy and the great nation
that mourns its fallen brothers and sisters. In defiance, because just as my country continues to fight terrorism in our battle for survival, I know that America will not cower before this challenge.

I have absolute confidence that if we, the citizens of the free world, led by President Bush, marshall the enormous reserves of power at our disposal, harness the steely resolve of a free people, and mobilize our collective will - we shall eradicate this evil from the face of the earth.

But to achieve this goal, we must first however answer several questions: Who is responsible for this terrorist onslaught? Why, what is the motive behind these attacks? And most importantly, what must be done to defeat these evil forces?

The first and most crucial thing to understand is this: There is no international terrorism without the support of sovereign states.

International terrorism simply cannot be sustained for long without the regimes that aid and abet it. Terrorists are not suspended in mid-air. They train, arm and indoctrinate their killers from within safe havens on territory provided by terrorist states. Often these regimes provide the terrorists with intelligence, money, and operational assistance, dispatching them to serve as deadly proxies to wage a hidden war against more powerful

These regimes mount a worldwide propaganda campaign to legitimize terror, besmirching its victims and exculpating its practitioners -- as we witnessed in the farcical spectacle in the UN conference on racism in Durban last month. Iran, Libya, and Syria call the US and Israel racist countries that
abuse human rights? Even Orwell could not have imagined such a world. 

Take away all this state support, and the entire scaffolding of international terrorism will collapse into the dust.

The international terrorist network is thus based on regimes - Iran, Iraq, Syria, Taliban Afghanistan, Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority, and several other Arab regimes, such as the Sudan. These regimes are the ones
that harbor the terrorist groups: Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, Hizbullah and others in Syrian-controlled Lebanon, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the recently mobilized Fatah and Tanzim factions in the Palestinian territories, and sundry other terror organizations based in such capitals as Damascus, Baghdad, and Khartoum.

These terrorist states and terror organizations together form a terror network, whose constituent parts support each other operationally as well as politically. For example, the Palestinian groups cooperate closely with Hizbullah, which in turn links them to Syria, Iran, and bin Laden. These
offshoots of terror have affiliates in other states that have not yet uprooted their presence, such as Egypt, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.

The growth of this terror network is the result of several developments in the last two decades: Chief among them is the Khomeini revolution and the establishment of a clerical Islamic state in Iran. This created a sovereign spiritual base for fomenting a strident Islamic militancy worldwide, a
militancy that was often backed by terror.

Equally important was the victory in the Afghan war of the international mujahadin brotherhood. This international band of zealots, whose ranks include Osama bin Laden, saw their victory over the Soviet Union as providential proof of the innate supremacy of faithful Muslims over the weak
infidel powers. They believed that even the superior weapons of a superpower could not withstand their superior will.

To this should also be added Saddam Hussein's escape from destruction at the end of the Gulf War, his dismissal of UN monitors, and his growing confidence that he can soon develop unconventional weapons to match those of the West.

Finally, the creation of Yasser Arafat's terror enclave gave a safe haven to militant Islamic terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Like their mujahadin cousins, they drew inspiration from Israel's hasty withdrawal from Lebanon, glorified as a great Muslim victory by the Syrian-backed
Hizbullah. Under Arafat's rule, these Palestinian Islamic terrorist groups made repeated use of the technique of suicide bombing, going so far as to run summer camps in Gaza that teach Palestinian children how to become suicide martyrs.

Here is what Arafat's government controlled newspaper, Al Hayat al Jadida, said on September 11, the very day of the suicide bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon: "The suicide bombers of today are the noble successors of the Lebanese suicide bombers, who taught the US Marines a tough lesson. These suicide bombers are the salt of the earth, the engines of history. They are the most honorable people among us."

A simple rule prevails here: The success of terrorists in one part of the terror network emboldens terrorists throughout the network.

This then is the who. Now for the why.

Though its separate parts may have local objectives and take part in local conflicts, the main motivation driving the terror network is an anti-Western hostility that seeks to achieve nothing less than a reversal of history. It seeks to roll back the West and install an extremist form of Islam as the
dominant power in the world. And it seeks to do this not by means of its own advancement and progress, but by destroying the enemy. This hatred is the product of a seething resentment that has simmered for centuries in certain parts of the Arab and Islamic world.

Most Muslims in the world, including the vast majority of the growing Muslim communities in the West, are not guided by this interpretation of history, nor are they moved by its call for a holy war against the West. But some are. And though their numbers are small compared to the peaceable majority, they nevertheless constitute a growing hinterland for this militancy.

Militant Islamists resented the West for pushing back the triumphant march of Islam into the heart of Europe many centuries ago. Its adherents, believing in the innate supremacy of Islam, then suffered a series of shocks when in the last two centuries that same hated, supposedly inferior West penetrated
Islamic realms in North Africa, the Middle East, and the Persian Gulf.

For them the mission was clear: The West had to be first pushed out of these areas. Pro-western Middle Eastern regimes were toppled in rapid succession, including in Iran. And Israel, the Middle East's only democracy and its purest manifestation of Western progress and freedom, must be wiped off the face of the earth.

Thus, the soldiers of militant Islam do not hate the West because of Israel, they hate Israel because of the West - because they see it is an island of Western democratic values in a Muslim-Arab sea of despotism. That is why they call Israel the Little Satan, to distinguish it clearly from the country that
has always been and will always be the Great Satan - the United States of America.

Nothing better illustrates this than Osama bin Laden's call for jihad against the United States in 1998. He gave as his primary reason not Israel, not the Palestinians, not the "peace process," but rather the very presence of the United States "occupying the land of Islam in the holiest of places" - and where is that? - "the Arabian peninsula" says Bin Laden, where America is "plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, and humiliating its people." Israel, by the way, comes a distant third, after "the continuing aggression against the Iraqi people" [Al Quds al Arabi, February 23, 1998]. 

For the bin Ladens of the world, Israel is merely a sideshow. America is the target.

But reestablishing a resurgent Islam requires not just rolling back the West; it requires destroying its main engine, the United States. And if the US cannot be destroyed just now, it can be first humiliated - as in the Teheran hostage crisis two decades ago - and then ferociously attacked again and
again, until it is brought to its knees. But the ultimate goal remains the same: Destroy America and win eternity.

Some of you may find it hard to believe that Islamic militants truly cling to the mad fantasy of destroying America. Make no mistake about it. They do.

And unless they are stopped now, their attacks will continue, and become even more lethal in the future. To understand the true dangers of Islamic militancy, we can compare it to another ideology which sought world domination - communism. Both movements pursued irrational goals, but the communists at least pursued theirs in a rational way.

Anytime they had to choose between ideology and their own survival, as in Cuba or Berlin, they backed off and chose survival. Not so for the Islamic militants. They pursue an irrational ideology irrationally - with no apparent regard for human life, neither their own lives nor the lives of their
enemies. The communists seldom, if ever, produced suicide bombers, while Islamic militancy produces hordes of them, glorifying them and promising them that their dastardly deeds will earn them a glorious afterlife. This highly pathological aspect of Islamic militancy is what makes it so deadly for

When in 1996 I wrote a book about fighting terrorism, I warned about the militant Islamic groups operating in the West with the support of foreign powers - serving as a new breed of "domestic-international" terrorists, basing themselves in America to wage jihad against America: "Such groups," I wrote then, "nullify in large measure the need to have air power or intercontinental missiles as delivery systems for an Islamic nuclear payload. They will be the delivery system. In the worst of such scenarios, the consequences could be not a car bomb but a nuclear bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center." Well, they did not use a nuclear bomb. They used two
150-ton fully fueled jetliners to wipe out the Twin Towers. But does anyone doubt that given the chance, they will throw atom bombs at America and its allies? And perhaps long before that, chemical and biological weapons?

This is the greatest danger facing our common future. Some states of the terror network already possess chemical and biological capabilities, and some are feverishly developing nuclear weapons. Can one rule out the possibility that they will be tempted to use such weapons, openly or through terror proxies, or that their weapons might fall into the hands of the terrorist groups they harbor?

We have received a wake up call from hell. Now the question is simple: Do we rally to defeat this evil, while there is still time, or do we press a collective snooze button and go back to business as usual?

The time for action is now.

Today the terrorists have the will to destroy us, but they do not have the power. There is no doubt that we have the power to crush them. Now we must also show that we have the will. Once any part of the terror network acquires nuclear weapons, this equation will fundamentally change and with it the
course of human affairs. This is the historical imperative that now confronts all of us all.

And now the third point: What do we about it? First, as President Bush said, we must make no distinction between the terrorists and the states that support them. It is not enough to root out the terrorists who committed this horrific act of war. We must dismantle the entire terrorist network.

If any part of it remains intact, it will rebuild itself, and the specter of terrorism will reemerge and strike again. Bin Laden, for example, has shuttled over the last decade from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan to the Sudan and back again. So we must not leave any base intact.

To achieve this goal we must first have moral clarity. We must fight terror wherever and whenever it appears. We must make all states play by the same rules. We must declare terrorism a crime against humanity, and we must consider the terrorists enemies of mankind, to be given no quarter and no
consideration for their purported grievances. If we begin to distinguish between acts of terror, justifying some and repudiating others based on sympathy with this or that cause, we will lose the moral clarity that is so essential for victory.

This clarity is what enabled America and Britain to root out piracy in the 19th century. This is how the Allies rooted out Nazism in the 20th century.

They did not look for the "root cause" of piracy or the "root cause" of Nazism - because they knew that some acts are evil in and of themselves, and do not deserve any consideration or "understanding." They did not ask if Hitler was right about the alleged wrong done to Germany at Versailles. That they left to the historians. The leaders of the Western Alliance said something else: Nothing justifies Nazism. Nothing! We must be equally clear cut today: Nothing justifies terrorism. Nothing! Terrorism is defined not by the identity of its perpetrators nor by the cause they espouse. Rather, it is defined by the nature of the act.

Terrorism is the deliberate attack on innocent civilians. In this it must be distinguished from legitimate acts of war that target combatants and may unintentionally harm civilians.

When the British bombed the Copenhagen Gestapo headquarters in 1944, and one of their bombs unintentionally struck a children's hospital, that was a tragedy, but it was not terrorism. When a few weeks ago Israel fired a missile that killed two Hamas arch-terrorists, and two Palestinian children
who were playing nearby were tragically struck down, that is not terrorism.

Terrorists do not unintentionally harm civilians. They deliberately murder, maim, and menace civilians - as many as possible.

No cause, no grievance, no apology can ever justify terrorism. Terrorism against Americans, Israelis, Spaniards, Britons, Russians, or anyone else is all part of the same evil and must be treated as such. It is time to establish a fixed principle for the international community: Any cause that uses terrorism to advance its aims will not be rewarded. On the contrary, it will be punished and placed beyond the pale.

Armed with this moral clarity in defining terrorism, we must possess an equal moral clarity in fighting it. If we include Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority in the coalition to fight terror - even though they currently harbor, sponsor, and dispatch terrorists - then the alliance against terror
will be defeated from within.

Perhaps we might achieve a short-term objective of destroying one terrorist fiefdom, but it will preclude the possibility of overall victory. Such a coalition will melt down because of its own internal contradictions. We might win a battle. We will certainly lose the war.

These regimes, like all terrorist states, must be given a forthright demand: Stop terrorism, permanently, or you will face the wrath of the free world - through harsh and sustained political, economic, and military sanctions.

Obviously, some of these regimes will scramble in fear and issue platitudes about their opposition to terror, just as Arafat, Iran, and Syria did, while they keep their terror apparatus intact. We should not be fooled. These regimes are already on the US lists of states supporting terrorism - and if
they are not, they should be.

The price of admission for any state into the coalition against terror must be to first completely dismantle the terrorist infrastructures within their realm. Iran will have to dismantle a worldwide network of terrorism and incitement based in Teheran.

Syria will have to shut down Hizbullah and the dozen terrorist organizations that operate freely in Damascus and in Lebanon. Arafat will have to crush Hamas and Islamic Jihad, close down their suicide factories and training grounds, rein in his own Fatah and Tanzim terrorists, and cease the endless incitement to violence.

To win this war, we must fight on many fronts. The most obvious one is direct military action against the terrorists themselves. Israel's policy of preemptively striking at those who seek to murder its people is, I believe, better understood today and requires no further elaboration.

But there is no substitute for the key action that we must take: imposing the most punishing diplomatic, economic and military sanction on all terrorist states. To this must be added these measures: Freeze financial assets in the West of terrorist regimes and organizations; revise legislation, subject to periodic renewal, to enable better surveillance against organizations
inciting violence; keep convicted terrorists behind bars. Do not negotiate with terrorists; train special forces to fight terror; and not least important, impose sanctions on suppliers of nuclear technology to terrorist states.

I have had some experience in pursuing all these courses of action in Israel's battle against terrorism, and I will be glad to elaborate on any one of them if you wish, including the sensitive questions surrounding intelligence.

But I have to be clear: Victory over terrorism is not, at its most fundamental level, a matter of law enforcement or intelligence. However important these functions may be, they can only reduce the dangers, not eliminate them. The immediate objective is to end all state support for and complicity with terror. If vigorously and continuously challenged, most of these regimes can be deterred from sponsoring terrorism.

But there is a real possibility that some will not be deterred - and those may be ones that possess weapons of mass destruction. Again, we cannot dismiss the possibility that a militant terrorist state will use its proxies to threaten or launch a nuclear attack with apparent impunity. Nor can we
completely dismiss the possibility that a militant regime, like its terrorist proxies, will commit collective suicide for the sake of its fanatical ideology.

In this case, we might face not thousands of dead, but hundreds of thousands and possibly millions. This is why the US must do everything in its power to prevent regimes like Iran and Iraq from developing nuclear weapons, and disarm them of their weapons of mass destruction.

This is the great mission that now stands before the free world. That mission must not be watered down to allow certain states to participate in the coalition that is now being organized. Rather, the coalition must be built around this mission.

It may be that some will shy away from adopting such an uncompromising stance against terrorism. If some free states choose to remain on the sidelines, America must be prepared to march forward without them - for there is no substitute for moral and strategic clarity. I believe that if the United
States stands on principle, all the democracies will eventually join the war on terrorism. The easy route may be tempting, but it will not win the day.

On September 11, I, like everyone else, was glued to a television set watching the savagery that struck America. Yet amid the smoking ruins of the Twin Towers one could make out the Statue of Liberty holding high the torch of freedom. It is freedom's flame that the terrorists sought to extinguish.
But it is that same torch, so proudly held by the United States, that can lead the free world to crush the forces of terror and secure our tomorrow.

It is within our power. Let us now make sure that it is within our will.

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