Sunday, June 20, 2004

Positive News from the War on Terror

In Friday's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer notes one extremely positive development, the defeat of the Palestinian terror war against Israel. Here are some excerpts, please read it all:

For Israel, the victory is bitter. The last four years of terrorism have killed almost 1,000 Israelis and maimed thousands of others. But Israel has won strategically. The intent of the intifada was to demoralize Israel, destroy its economy, bring it to its knees and thus force it to withdraw and surrender to Palestinian demands, just as Israel withdrew in defeat from southern Lebanon in May 2000.

That did not happen. Israel's economy was certainly wounded, but it is growing again. Tourism had dwindled to almost nothing at the height of the intifada, but tourists are returning. And the Israelis were never demoralized. They kept living their lives, the young people in particular returning to cafes and discos and buses just hours after a horrific bombing. Israelis turned out to be a lot tougher and braver than the Palestinians had imagined.

The end of the intifada does not mean the end of terrorism. There was terrorism before the intifada and there will be terrorism to come. What has happened, however, is an end to systematic, regular, debilitating, unstoppable terror -- terror as a reliable weapon. At the height of the intifada, there were 9 suicide attacks in Israel killing 85 Israelis in just one month (March 2002). In the last three months, there have been none.

This is an important development for two reasons. First, it shows that a western democracy can indeed withstand and defeat a campaign of Islamist suicide terrorism. The key to Israel's victory was its willingness to persevere through adversity, and to do what was necessary to protect its people, while ignoring the hypocritical carping of the Europeans and the UN. This is a lesson that Americans need to keep in mind. Of course, Israel still has much to do. To begin with, the withdrawal from Gaza must go forward. Israel's settlements in Gaza are strategically untenable and simply not worth the cost. The defeat of the terror campaign will allow Israel to withdraw from Gaza on its own terms, and not as a result of terrorism.

The second major development is the hope that the Palestinians might finally, though no doubt slowly and haltingly, rethink the culture of death and jihad that has led them to their current predicament. The Palestinians have to choose; do they want their children to grow up to be doctors and teachers, or to be suicide terrorists? If the defeat of the 2000-04 "Intifada" makes the Palestinian people begin to ponder this question, then it offers the beginning of hope that a genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace might yet be achieved.

Link courtesy of Roger L. Simon, who made this point before Krauthammer.


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