Best Policy: Talk Tough with Israel

In his latest Op-Ed, " The Best P.R.: Straight Talk." New York Times columnist, Thomas L. Friedman, expresses his criticism of President Bush "for not offering a single word of condemnation for those who went out and killed 16 people in Afghanistan in riots linked to a Newsweek report." He goes on to say that this lack of condemnation "pretty much explains why we’re struggling to win the war of ideas in the Muslim world today."

Isn’t it ironic that Thomas Friedman would be so critical of President Bush’s lack of condemnation for those Muslims who killed 16 people in Afghanistan but yet never criticized Bush or any other Washington politician for being so silent in offering any condemnation when Ariel Sharon and his Israeli military dropped a one-ton bomb in the center of a Gaza City apartment complex a few years ago that killed 16 innocent Palestinians including 9 children?

Mr. Friedman must know by now that rarely do you see President Bush or Condoleezza Rice or any members of Congress voice any condemnation against Israel. What other nation on this planet would be allowed to destroy more than 12,000 homes of innocent people, or to uproot more than 100,000 of their olive orchards, or to assassinate dozens of their political leaders, or to grab land that doesn’t belong to them, or to build illegal settlements on confiscated land, or to build an apartheid wall outside their own borders that cuts deeply in the territory which the international community earmarked for creation of a Palestinian state?

The construction of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied territory continue today and the only voice we hear out of Washington is its disappointment that the construction continues. Disappointment? Is that all we get? The construction of illegal settlements is a severe violation of international law, specifically of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids an occupying power from transferring and settling its own citizens in the occupied territory. Where’s the outrage from Washington? Is it too much to ask for some stronger words or for some immediate action? After all, what better leverage does Washington have than that of its generous foreign aid package we give to the Jewish state? President Bush has the perfect opportunity to get tough with Israel, especially after Ariel Sharon promised to end further construction of these illegal settlements during his recent visit to Washington just to do an about face upon his return to Israel. Why is there no action from the president? Is it because he remembers when his father, back in 1991, did something similar by suggesting to delay the $10 billion loan guarantee to Israel as long as it continued to build illegal settlements on the West Bank only to see his father have to apologize a few days later for suggesting such a move?

We demand that Syria leave Lebanon, but say nothing about Israel’s illegal occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights. President Bush had the perfect opportunity to put pressure on Israel immediately when Syria left Lebanon just a few weeks ago.

We demand Iran to abandon any thought of building nuclear weapons but we say nothing about Israel’s 200 nuclear weapons. As a matter of fact, we don’t even require Israel to join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty or even require them to allow international inspections. And it was Iran who has called for a nuclear-free Middle East but the United States opposed the idea. They opposed the idea because it would require Israel to give up its nukes. Maybe if Israel didn’t have nuclear weapons then other countries in the Middle East wouldn’t feel threatened to the extent that they too needed to defend themselves. After all, it was Israel who bombed the nuclear reactor in Iraq.

If the people in Washington didn’t have this double standard of always allowing Israel to get away with violating international law while punishing other nations that do, then maybe the United States wouldn’t be in the mess it finds itself in today. Maybe the Muslim world, and for that matter, all other people around the world wouldn’t hate us as much as they do.

Unfortunately, Israel has a very powerful lobby in Washington and no one dares speak of big brother unless in praise or on bended knees. American taxpayers have been forced to hand over more than 120 billion dollars in foreign aid since 1960 and there is no end in sight, even while our domestic problems continue to mount. Our deficit and our national debt is at an all time high, our social security funds are about defunct, and now we need to close military installations to save money. Yet, you will never hear any person up on the hill suggest a reduction of aid to Israel. They know, that such a suggestion would disbar them from the cliques of political power.

We may be failing to win the war of ideas in the Muslim world, as Thomas Friedman points out in today’s New York Times, but it’s not because President Bush failed to condemn those who killed 16 Afghanistans in riots linked to a Newsweek report. The real reason we fail to win the war of ideas in the Muslim world, and for all other parts of the world, is because of a lopsided Middle East Policy that favors Israel no matter what crimes she commits.