By David J. Forman, spokesman for the Rabbis for Human Rights group.
October 16, 2001
It would be foolish, not to mention intellectually dishonest, not to reevaluate
one’s political views in light of the recent assault by fanatic Islamic terrorists up
This is especially true for those of us on the left of the political spectrum. This
is not to say that those on the right should not also rethink their position, but
the current reality does seem to justify an “I told you so” attitude on their part.
However, while the Right’s outlook may at present seem correct, the Left’s
notion of a negotiated settlement is still more realistic and hopeful.
A rightist view that we must fight the Palestinians at all costs because what
they really want is all of Israel is a sure-fire guarantee of a never-ending
In addition, in reexamining our political outlook, we must not alter our
progressive attitude on matters of social concern: embracing concepts of social
equality, economic justice, and human rights.
A reassessment for us “lefties” is difficult because one of our enduring
characteristics is that we are so self-righteous. But Osama bin Laden and his
evil cohorts make no distinction between the Left and the Right.
It is Americans, and particularly Jews, they are after. And it could very
well be that the majority of Muslims around the world did rejoice at the
tumbling of the Twin Towers – one major reason being that it would focus the
world, in the most dramatic way imaginable, on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
with the countries of the world, or better yet, ordinary citizens of those
countries, blaming Israel for provoking terrorism.
Such an attitude has already been adopted by many European nations. America
is beginning to swallow the argument as well, as evidenced by President
George W. Bush’s surprising call for a Palestinian state, something we leftists
argue for. However, what was troubling about the president’s statement was
the timing and the circumstances under which it was uttered.
Nothing can justify the horrific act of terrorism that was visited upon the US.
There is no moral equivalency here. And so, Bush’s new awakening to the
Israeli-Palestinian stalemate not only makes a mockery of his claim that America
will never give into terrorist demands, it also is a subtle admission that Israel is,
indeed, partially responsible for the bin Laden phenomenon.
Does any sane person truly believe that bin Laden and all his cheerleaders
throughout the Arab world really want a negotiated settlement of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would tolerate even a truncated Jewish state?
Will not the Muslim world now find encouragement to force the Jewish
state into the sea, just as the Right in Israel believes?
With Bush’s seemingly quick capitulation, apparently all that is needed to
achieve Israel’s destruction is for a few more Muslim extremists to stage
another devastating attack on America.
There are limits to coalition building. But the world has been turned upside
down. What should we leftists be thinking now? Why are we not protesting
America’s wooing of countries such as Iran and Syria, instead of praising
Bush’s call for a Palestinian state, which, under the present circumstances, is
little more than sacrificing Israel so that even the Palestinian Authority, which
has yet to arrest hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives, bin Laden’s
spiritual comrades-in-arms, will be part of the new American coalition?
Imagine how it would be had prime minister Menachem Begin not destroyed the
Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.
Why are we afraid to entertain the possibility that, perhaps, America should
bomb the Pakistani and Iranian nuclear reactors, or blow up Iraqi biological and
chemical factories so that only the Iraqi people suffer President Saddam
Hussein’s menacing ways instead of we in Israel?
Why should we again tolerate America going to war while we sit in
At what point should we leftists rethink our positions?
When bin Laden sends 25 suicide bombers into 25 shopping malls all
across America: from Sacramento, California to Portland, Maine?
Or better yet, when he sends these crazies into Sbarros all across the
United States to blow themselves up, so that by association, not only the
American president, but every citizen in America will call on his government to
There is the story of the psychiatrist who told a patient that he does not suffer
from an inferiority complex, rather he was indeed inferior.
Israel is not paranoic; the Muslim world is against us, and if bin Laden
has his way, as presently seems to be the case, so will be the rest of the world.
This new reality makes me wonder: Could it be that the Right is right?
This better not be the case, otherwise, not only will we be continually
threatened physically, but we will also be spiritually wounded. For should we
follow the rightist view to its logical conclusion, all hope would be lost.
Therefore, even in these uncertain and difficult times, being cognizant of the
dangers that could await us, it is the leftists’ hopes that must guide us, not the