Monday, December 1, 2008

Lessons From Israel For India

. There is no comparison between spectacular pyrotechnics and sustained construction that is a way of life.

One of my vivid memories of the intifada in Israel was the aftermath of Israel’s retaliatory strikes against terrorists. The immediate response which was echoed with sympathy in the mainstream media was to condemn random targetting of civilians. The Achilles heel of the State of Israel is of course that it actually cares about protecting the innocent. The Israelis studied the pattern of past attacks. They found the precise location of actual perpetrators and planned accordingly. In one instance of retaliation, a terrorist answered his cell phone. His head was promptly vaporised by a piece of plastic explosive which had been thoughtfully placed in his cell phone. In other cases, cars with top terror operatives were blown into scrap by missiles fired from Israeli drones.

The response was immediate, laughable and predictable. It was echoed by the useful idiots monitoring teleprompters for our major networks. Hamas, Fatah and all the usual suspects condemned “targetted assassinations.”

Let’s keep a score card with all the rules. You can’t have indiscriminate attacks that might involve the innocent. And you can’t have attacks in which the guilty are identified and wiped out. What does that leave? I know! Try the accused terrorists in a Shaaria court in “Palestine”. Then we’ll get real justice. Right? Please!!!

It is obvious that nothing would satisfy Israel’s enemies short of mass suicide. There will always be a “talking point” with which to condemn Israel. America and India are facing the same propaganda tactics employed by the same enemy.

Back in the days when the PLO was in exile in Tunisia, the second in command to Yasir Arafat was killed in his house by masked assassins. His tearful wife and sorrowful looking child appeared on networks around the world to speak of their sorrow. Predictably and I believe correctly, the Israelis were blamed. The rationale made me proud to be a Jew. A PLO analyst said that the psychological profile of the crime scene pointed towards Jewish assassins. An Arab, he explained would have killed every man woman and child in the house along with pets. The failure to kill the man’s family showed a measure of mercy that was a Jewish trademark.

There are certain platitudes and empty phrases that make it impossible to fight a war against Islamic terror. One is the tendency to discuss the “cycle of violence”. This phrase subtly presupposes a moral equivalency between two sides in an dispute. The sight of a bloody pacifier lying in the gutter or the sound of an old man in a wheel chair being pushed into the ocean should permanently put such idiocy to rest. Unfortunately some foolishness keeps getting a new lease on life and needs to be combatted like cockroaches or athletes foot. Some religions, some political philosophies are better than others. Their freedom to exist with rights of free speech is based upon their respect of the rights of others. Not every religion or dialect is entitled to its own sovereign state. And not only should some states not be allowed to have the atomic bomb, but they should be kept away from sharp instruments and shoelaces.

We can not keep apologising for ourselves or looking for the “root cause” of our enemy’s anger. Blaming poverty doesn’t work either. The British have found doctors in their national health care system involved in planning mass terror attacks. The poor are used as chumps. A pension for the family of a suicide bomber provides an incentive for a poor family to have a martyr.

Any discussion of “western decadence” should exclude dialogue with Islamic radicals. Christian girls that are kidnapped and raped by Islamic radicals in Egypt are not wearing spandex or turning tricks. Mandaeans and Assyrian Christians in Iraq are insular minorities trying to maintain a traditions that span centuries. The idiots who assassinate their bishops kidnap their women and extort ransom from their communities are seeking a Koranic imprimatur for murder, avarice and vice. The gangs who take over neighbourhoods and impose fatuous fatwas upon the inhabitants are willfully ignorant of Islamic societies in which peaceful coexistence and tolerance prevailed.

One of my favourite stories about immigrants was that of a Jordanian who was in a movie theatre in his country. A newsreel came on in which angry antiwar demonstrators in an American city burned an American flag. The man watching the newsreel was shocked. Such treatment of a Jordanian flag or a picture of Jordan’s king would have been met with brutal and instant retaliation. The stunned Jordanian resolved to come to America and become a citizen. He felt that any country with enough self confidence to tolerate such public acts of opposition as burning a flag probably had a strong and persuasive governing ideology. He viewed Jordan’s enforced displays of respect as bespeaking a lack of self confidence.

It is one thing to allow the opposition to speak. it is another thing to believe them. Self criticism is a healthy way of weeding out systemic weakness. Perpetual and chronic self doubt is another matter entirely. We have come face to face with an enemy that leveled the World Trade Center. Americans built the World Trade Center. There is no comparison between spectacular pyrotechnics and sustained construction that is a way of life. I am encyclopedically ignorant of theology. “Do not unto your neighbour what is hateful to thee” keeps me busy trying to keep up. How do you treat your friends? How do you treat your workers? How do you treat your enemies? How do you behave towards widows, orphans and your own children? Are you better at building or do you like to blow things up. Worse still do you like to blow people up?

According to the answers I get to these questions, Americans come out way ahead. And so do Israelis, who often risk their own lives to minimise civilian casualties in the war it must wage on terrorism. As pluralistic as it is fashionable to be, sometimes the battle is between right and wrong, between good and evil. Some people don’t deserve their own state or freedom to practice their religion, because their religion is a physical danger to human life and their state would be an extension of that. And if the spurious argument is advanced that hunting down terrorists makes us like them then the choice was theirs, and not ours.

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