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What They Are Saying week of 1/26/06
Columnist Mona Charen writes in JewishWorldReview.com on Jan. 20 about whether Israel will serve the world's Iran problem:
"It is remarkable how quickly discussions about Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons turn to Israel. 'Well,' worriers are reassured, 'Israel will never permit Iran to go nuclear. Remember Osirak?'
"In 1981, Israeli planes streaked across the desert at low altitude and destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak, a facility built by the French and partially manned by Italians.
"The world's response was volcanic. Then U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim (not yet unmasked as a former Nazi) called the Israeli raid a 'clear contravention of international law.' And the U.S. State Department spokesman called the air raid ''a very serious development and a source of utmost concern.'
"Israel's explanation - that it was acting defensively because it believed Iraq was attempting to obtain nuclear weapons - was rejected by nearly everyone.
"Yet today, many seem to hope that the world's favorite scapegoat will again take matters in hand and destroy a looming threat. Perhaps they plan to denounce Israel again and sleep soundly thereafter.
"But there is a problem with this tidy scenario. The Iranians have learned from Iraq's mistake - they've thought of little else - and have hardened and dispersed their nuclear facilities all over the vast territory of Iran.
"In other words, from the world's point of view, there is no easy fix. 'Let the Israelis do it' won't work.
"For more than two years, the Europeans, with America's blessing, have been exhorting the Iranians to forego nuclear weapons. Shocking though it may seem, this has not worked. Last week, Iran announced that the country is removing the seals from its Natanz plant - a direct violation of an agreement with Britain, France and Germany.
"The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran was made more terrifying with the ascent of the Holocaust-denying, religious vision-seeing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. He reportedly believes in the imminent return of the righteous descendant of the Prophet Mohammed, the 12th imam, whose appearance will be presaged by war and chaos.
"A previous Iranian leader mused that only one nuclear bomb would be sufficient to completely obliterate Israel and the largest Jewish population on Earth. A return salvo by Israel could destroy only a fraction of the world's Muslims.
"Would this madness be within the realm of the conceivable to Ahmadinejad? Even apart from his hysterical rantings about Israel ('a disgraceful blot' that 'should be wiped off the face of the Earth'), consider what he said to his own countrymen when a plane crashed into a Tehran building killing 108. 'What is important is that they have showed the way to martyrdom, which we must follow.'
"Ahmadinejad and the sick mullah who run Iran may be crazy, but they're not fools. They know that between fighting Al Qaeda and building a durable democracy in Iraq, we're hardly in a mood to deal with Iran at the moment. But we cannot avoid it. The current state of play suggests that Iran will be referred to the U.N. Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency. But sanctions against Iran will probably be vetoed by Russia or China.
"That leaves us with no painless options. We ought to be supporting the democratic opposition within Iraq for all we're worth."
Why Use Terror? Because Nine Times Out of 10, It Works!
Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz writes in The Boston Globe (www.boston.com) on Jan. 16 that film prescriptions for counterterrorism don't work:
"Whatever anyone might think of the artistic merits of Steven Spielberg's new film 'Munich,' no one should expect an accurate portrayal of historical events.
" 'Munich' portrays a squad of Mossad agents, led by a fictional character named Avner Kauffman, tracking down and killing the Black September terrorists who had perpetrated the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. As the movie progresses, Avner becomes increasingly disillusioned with his mission. His chief concern is that counterterrorism only incites more terrorism, which in turn provokes reprisals. The last shot in the movie rests on the World Trade Center, suggesting a connection between the Middle East's 'cycle of violence' and the Sept. 11 attacks.
"The trouble with this 'cycle of violence' perspective is that it confuses cause and effect. The period immediately preceding Munich was plagued by airline terrorism, including the blowing up of a Swiss airliner that killed all 47 passengers and crew, and dozens of deadly hijackings. Palestinian hijackings were successful because even when the hijackers were captured, they were quickly released as soon as Palestinian terrorists hijacked another airplane. This long pattern of high-publicity, low-risk hijackings is what encouraged Black September to up the ante by infiltrating the Olympic Village in Munich.
"In short: Terrorism works because it is successful, and success begets repetition.
"In the final scene of the movie, Avner asks his Mossad handler why Israel killed the Black September terrorists instead of arresting them. The answer, never given in the film, is that the arrest method had failed.
"Arrested terrorists were never tried and imprisoned for long. Between 1968 and 1975, 204 terrorists were arrested outside of the Mideast. By the close of 1975, only three were still in prison. George Habash, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, noted that Europe's refusal to imprison terrorists meant that, when it came to plotting hijackings and bombing, 'success [was] 100 percent assured.'
"Take the example of PFLP hijacker Leila Khaled. In 1969, Khaled hijacked a TWA plane. She was arrested but soon released. Only a year later, in September 1970, she led another hijacking operation, this time on an El Al flight to New York. Khaled was held in a British prison where, by her own account, she was treated 'as if I were an official state guest.' The British released her - after her second hijacking! - before she had spent even one month in jail.
"Both Israel and America pressured the British to extradite Khaled to Israel to stand trial. England refused, aligning itself with every other European country that had refused to extradite terrorists for trial in Israel.
"And it is not only Israel whose extradition requests have been utterly frustrated. In 1985, for example, Italy allowed Achille Lauro mastermind hijacker Abu Abbas to flee safely to Tunisia, rather than sending him to the United States to face charges of killing American tourist Leon Klinghoffer.
"Without European cooperation, Israel stood little chance of curbing international terrorism. Sure enough, Germany released the surviving Black September terrorists less than two months after Munich, when Palestinian terrorists 'hijacked' a Lufthansa plane. According to the senior aide to Germany's interior minister, it is 'probably true' that the 'hijacking' was orchestrated as part of a German-Palestinian scheme to free the terrorists.
"It was the German decision to free these killers to kill again that strengthened Golda Meir's resolve to take the steps necessary to protect her citizens, but you wouldn't know that from watching 'Munich.' "