Hezbollah's Attack a Wakeup Call for the World
On September 11, 2001, as planes slammed into New York City, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, the earth seemed to stop spinning for a few hours, and the planet’s billions immediately realized that the world had changed forever. A similar shudder happened last week when Hezbollah attacked Israel, and it would be prudent for these same billions to look upon this event as seriously.
The sheer volume of terrorist activity Israel has endured in the last 58 years seemingly would suggest that attacks on this particular nation are divorced from the global war on terrorism. But such a conclusion would be folly, for the events of last week are not just another episode in the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Lebanon has now become an albatross for Israel much as Afghanistan was to the United States prior to 9/11.
Given the clear involvement of Iran and Syria in these recent hostilities, as well as both nations’ transparent support of terrorist activity in Iraq against American forces, U.S. officials must look upon the events of the past week more broadly. Unfortunately, as missiles continue to land in Lebanon and Israel with no ceasefire imminent, many American Democrats have viewed this episode through a metaphorical microscope, and, in typical fashion, have used this conflagration as an opportunity to blame President Bush, and, of course, the war in Iraq.
Such sentiments lack any historical reference to Middle East politics since 1948. Between May 1978 and May 2000, Israeli Defense Forces were deployed in southern Lebanon, initially as a response to the May 11, 1978, attacks on two buses near Tel Aviv that killed 37 Israelis and injuring 76. The goal on the part of the Israeli military at the time was to root out Palestinian terrorist bases along the Litani River.
On May 19 of that year, the United Nations issued Security Council Resolution 425, requesting Israel to withdraw. To be sure, it took 22 years, a lot of violence, and piles of failed diplomacy for Israel to fully comply with this resolution. However, on May 24, 2000, the last of Israel’s troops were removed from Lebanon, with then Prime Minister Ehud Barak stating:
From now on, the government of Lebanon is accountable for what takes place within its territory, and the Lebanese and Syrian governments are responsible for preventing acts of terror or aggression against Israel, which is from today deployed within its borders.
It would appear that neither Lebanon nor Syria has lived up to its part of the bargain. Regardless, on that same day in 2000, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs detailed the reasons for this withdrawal, as well as Israel’s expectations of its neighbors:
• The implementation of Resolution 425 constitutes an important step forward, meant to bring about an end to the on-going terrorism and confrontation on the northern border, and to facilitate further progress in the peace process. Israel has reiterated that it remains committed to its goal of concluding peace treaties with Syria and Lebanon, and will continue in its efforts to achieve this.
• Following the withdrawal, Israel hopes that peace and security will be restored to both sides of the international border. Israel further expects that the Government of Lebanon will take effective control of southern Lebanon, confident that the UN and the international community as a whole will undertake an effort to promote this goal.
The release quite prophetically cautioned:
• Israel is aware of the intention of various parties to continue to wield the ‘terrorist weapon’ in Lebanon, even after Israel’s withdrawal.
• If, after the withdrawal, terrorism continues, Israel will react forcefully, in keeping with its legitimate and internationally recognized right of self-defense. This reaction will be directed against both the terrorist organizations and those parties which extend aid to these organizations.
• If any party encourages, aids or facilitates terrorism against Israel from Lebanon following the withdrawal, Israel will view this as a clear act of aggression, and will respond in the appropriate manner. Any other country would act similarly under such circumstances.
It bears noting that Prime Minister Barak, who was seen as a dove compared to his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, had shortly before this withdrawal from Lebanon attempted to establish peace with Syria, only to be rebuffed by then-President Hafez Assad. And, a completely unprecedented olive branch offered by Barak to the Palestinians was similarly refused in July 2000 when he acceded to what most geopolitical analysts at the time felt was upwards of 98 percent of PLO leader Yasser Arafat’s demands at Camp David.
For all of Barak’s extraordinary efforts, the Palestinians began what was known as the second Intifada two months later, thereby ending all peace negotiations, and beginning another bloody period in this region. Yet, Israel still continued striving for peace in the following years, with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon removing Jewish settlements from Gaza and the West Bank in 2005 so that land could be turned over to the Palestinians, moving them toward the goal of creating a supposedly much-desired Palestinian state.
Mysteriously, such history – some of it transpiring within the last eighteen months – seems unimportant to politicians today looking to win points with voters. Thankfully, this was not the case for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich who said the following on July 16’s Meet the Press:
• First, this is not the fifth day of the war. This is the 58th year of the effort by those who want to destroy Israel.
• Second, the Israelis withdrew from Gaza to create the circumstance of peace. The Israelis withdrew from south Lebanon to create the circumstance of peace.
What did Israel get for all it has turned over to Lebanon and to the Palestinians?
They now have a thousand missiles fired from Gaza; they’ve had hundreds of missiles fired from south Lebanon.
With that in mind, doesn’t it appear that in the past six years since Israel left Lebanon, it has become much like Afghanistan prior to 9/11, and that Hezbollah is Israel’s al Qaeda? Isn’t it now incumbent on Israel, for the future safety of its citizens, to rid Lebanon of Hezbollah in much the same way the U.S. removed al Qaeda and the Taliban from control of Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks?
Gingrich seemed to agree:
[T]he Israelis have every right to insist that every single missile leave south Lebanon and that the United States ought to be helping the Lebanese government have the strength to eliminate Hezbollah as a military force, not as a political force in the parliament, but as a military force in south Lebanon.
The Speaker also drew an interesting analogy:
Imagine Miami had missiles being fired at it every day. Remember that when Israel loses eight people because of the difference in population, it’s the equivalent of losing almost 500 Americans. Imagine we woke up this morning and 500 Americans were dead in Miami from missiles fired from Cuba. Do you think any American would say, “Now, we should have proportionate response. We shouldn’t overreact”? No. We would say, “Get rid of the missiles.”
Gingrich, ever the historian, really drove this point home with a further poignant reference:
And, John F. Kennedy, a Democrat who understood the importance of power in the world, was prepared to go to nuclear war to stop missiles from being in Cuba.
Gingrich’s analogy is even more compelling given Iran’s desire to build a nuclear arsenal, for certainly this discussion would be quite different if one of those missiles that hit Israel in the past week had a nuclear payload.
Maybe such a realization is what moved the U.N. Security Council on July 15 finally to issue a unanimous – albeit watered-down – resolution condemning the July 4 missile firings by North Korea. The next step by the U.N. should be similar action toward Iran, ideally one with more teeth.
A realization of the stakes by America’s left and their media minions would precipitate a more global view of the recent happenings in Israel. A July 15 article from the Russian News and Information Agency Novosti gives some indication that such an awakening may be occurring elsewhere:
The events unfolding in Lebanon shed new light on some recent developments, including the statements made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Israel.
The Iranian leader addressed a high-profile Muslim forum held in Tehran a week ago. “The main issue faced by the Islamic world is Israel’s existence. The Islamic countries should mobilize their efforts to do away with this issue,” said the Iranian president addressing the ministers of foreign affairs of Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Bahrain and Egypt at the conference of Muslim countries.
If members of the Russian media are recognizing the connection between Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel and a nuclear Iran, shouldn’t the left-wing in the United States?
If the events of the past week – combined with two members of the axis of evil being dangerously close to possessing nuclear weapons – don’t frighten Americans on both sides of the aisle as to just how close we are to World War III, what will?
If Democrats allow their hatred of the President today – along with their desire to regain power in November – to interfere with their ability to see the storm clouds, the war on terror will certainly take a dire turn for the worse. They should take a page from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who in a speech Monday to the Knesset said words eerily similar to those of President Bush in an emergency session of Congress just days after 9/11:
And I very greatly respect and appreciate and esteem the way in which the heads of the opposition are acting in the Knesset at the moment. The human competition, personal rivalries just fade away and dissipate. And instead, the feeling of responsibility for each other come in their place, our partnership, our [cooperation] and, above all, our infinite love for our people, and for our country, our land. And this is how things are in this moment.
All of us Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Circassians are now standing as one single individual, as one single people in the face of the evil and the hatred. And we are fighting it by consent and shoulder to shoulder.
If the citizens of the world ignore Olmert’s call for solidarity, and don’t see Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel as another wakeup call to the crazed desires of radical Islamists much as 9/11 was, civilization has surely lost.