March 28, 2002
The script has been read so many times it can be recited by heart. A Palestinian
suicide terrorist lights himself up in the midst of an Israeli public gathering,
killing five, or 10, or 20.
President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell express carefully
measured heartbreak and outrage, and demand Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
“do everything in his power” to stop the terrorism. Arafat and his henchmen
blame the violence on Israel’s occupation. The rest of the world says nothing.
And the next day, the scene repeats.
It’s time for Bush to fill in the blank, to tell Arafat, “Or what?” He must end the
killing, or what? What will happen if he doesn’t?
Because so far, ignoring the president’s demands has carried no consequence
for Arafat and the Palestinians.
Instead, Bush and Powell have moved steadily closer in recent weeks toward
Palestinian appeasement, rewarding their violence with ever greater support for
On Wednesday, Israelis were cleaning up the debris and counting the bodies
after the bombing of a Passover Seder in a Netanya hotel, where 15 were killed
and 130 wounded. What was the Bush administration doing? Blindly embracing
the potential of a wispy peace proposal placed on the table by Saudi Crown
Prince Abdullah at the Arab League meeting in Beirut.
The Bush administration finds the offer quite hopeful, even though it would
open Israel’s borders to a flood of Palestinian refugees with ancient claims to
Israeli land, effectively eliminating the world’s only Jewish state.
It finds promise in the proposal, even though it requires Israel to give up
all security buffers and hand over Jerusalem for a Palestinian capitol.
And what does Israel get in return? An ambiguous promise of peace that not
even each of the Arab states can agree on the details.
Wednesday’s outrageous attack on a religious service is a crime against
civilization. It deserves a stronger response from the United States – and the
rest of the world – than a simple expression of dismay and a toothless demand
for action. If the Israelis had lobbed a missile into a mosque during a worship
service, would the world be this quiet? Would Bush be this passive?
Israel’s response to Wednesday evening’s murders is a promise of harsh and
sweeping measures to bring Palestinian terrorism under control. The last time
Israel attempted such a sweep, Bush and Powell interfered, demanding it pull
back its tanks, fearing the reaction of the United States’ tenuous Arab allies.
This time, Bush should at the very least remain silent while Israel does what
must be done. He is, after all, the proud author of the Bush Doctrine, which
clears the way for military action against terrorists and the state sponsors of
terrorism. The Palestinian Authority is the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism in
the world today.
The Palestinian Authority does not deserve an asterisk excusing it from the
Bush Doctrine. It deserves to be treated as the Taliban was treated in
It’s time Bush made Arafat understand that.