By Mitch Albom, April 14, 2002
When suicide bombers attacked America last September, nothing could stop
Yet when suicide bombers attack Israel, week after week, Israel is told —
even by Americans — to back off.
When we bombed Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda was organized, it was a
mission to “smoke them out.”
Yet when Israel attacks its hornet’s nest of terror, it is accused of
“occupying” and told to retreat.
When we fired on Kabul, from the safety of the air, we said innocent people
would be caught in the crossfire and, sadly, this was war.
Yet when Israeli soldiers go door to door in Palestinian areas, the most
dangerous yet humane way to root out terrorists, we call them “murderers” the
moment one civilian is killed.
When Osama bin Laden denied any involvement with Sept. 11, we said he was
lying and vowed to get him “dead or alive.”
Yet when groups tied to Yasser Arafat boldly claim responsibility for
suicide attacks, Israel is told not to harm their leader.
When we struck back against extremist terror, Israel was behind us.
When Israel strikes back, we say, “Enough is enough.”
You tell me. Is that hypocritical?
When we were scorned by critics who thought our treatment of prisoners in
Guantanamo was inhumane — because we bound them, gagged them and
blindfolded them — we bristled and said, “These are dangerous people.”
Yet when Israel demands certain Palestinians strip and stay on the
ground, we say this is outrageous and must be stopped.
When a videotape emerges showing bin Laden speaking of Sept. 11, we say it
proves the man is evil.
Yet when Israelis produce documents to show Arafat funds terror, they
are accused of forgery.
When certain Muslims suggest we hear out bin Laden and Al Qaeda, that we
understand their cause and the reasons for their anger, we grit our teeth and
say those people want us dead, why should we talk to them?
Yet when Israel says the same thing, it is told it must be sympathetic
and negotiate — even with people who deny Israel’s right to exist.
You tell me. Is that hypocritical?
War means death. There are innocent victims — Palestinians as well as Israelis —
on all sides of this equation.
But let’s be consistent. Our nearly 3,000 dead in the World Trade Center was
horrific, but Israel, relative to its small population, has lost a half-dozen World
Trade Centers in the last 18 months — all to suicide bombing. Every time you
see five Israelis dead in an attack, it is like 250 Americans dead here. How
many of those events would it take for us to lash out with all our power?
Would we pause and consider that the enemy wanted its own state? Or that its
people were “desperate”?
No way. For radical groups such as Hamas and Hizballah, statehood is not a
stop sign anyhow. They want Israel obliterated, state or no state, the same way
bin Laden wants Westerners obliterated. Bin Laden had his own country. He
had billions. Did land and money keep him from murder?
No. No more than desperation drives you to it. There have been desperate
people in Rwanda and Bosnia, yet they never chose to blow themselves up.
There have been occupied people across the globe — even right here, with
American Indians. Would we accept if descendants of the Sioux Nation began
blowing themselves up in shopping malls?
There is a difference between “desperate” and “brainwashed.” Desperate
people want to make their lives better. Brainwashed people think “kaboom”
sends you to heaven. Innocents are being killed on both sides. The difference
is, for Palestinian terrorists, those are the targets.
We can tell the Israelis to stop, but we wouldn’t stop. We can tell them to
negotiate, but we wouldn’t negotiate. We can see their dead and say it hurts as
much as ours, but we don’t mean it. Because if it were ours, we’d be doing
what they’re doing. And we’d damn anyone who spoke against us.