Moderate Militants

Bashar al-Assad, Mahmoud Abbas and Saddam Hussein have been called moderates. Is this for real?

Larry Gordon,

OpEds Larry Gordon
Larry Gordon

Is there such an entity as a moderate militant, or is that simply a contradiction in terms? If there is such a thing, that is precisely what the United States is looking for on the ground in Syria and what Israel may be searching for around the Jewish state.

Despite the expenditure of half a billion dollars, the U.S. could not effectively identify fighters in Syria that could satisfactorily be trained and provided with arms but who would not one day kill or injure Americans with those same weapons.

Israel finds itself in a similar circumstance, but in this case it is not only on its borders but within the very confines of the Jewish state. The late Rabbi Meir Kahane once said it best when asked if he could express a distinction between extremist and moderate Arabs. Kahane said at the time that in his analysis of the matter this is the distinction: Extreme Arabs want to kill Jews extremely, and moderate Arabs want to kill Jews moderately.

The point is that after all this time, we are sadly finding out that the Jewish Defense League founder’s appraisal of the situation was on the mark. As a result, what we have on the ground in Israel today is a matter for which we have no real precedent of proven solutions. Unfortunately, after decades of hoping that some type of reasonable leadership would emerge from within the Palestinian camp, we are once again learning the hard
Extreme Arabs want to kill Jews extremely, and moderate Arabs want to kill Jews moderately.
way that this side of the equation has just one parameter—and that is death and destruction.

But where is the diplomatic courage to finally tell it the way it is—that there are no true moderates on the scene today capable of leadership? The hallmark of Palestinian leadership, as is the case with Iranian leaders, is duplicity. That is, never say what you mean and certainly never, ever mean what you say.

So who and where are the moderates mentioned so often on news programs? If you are a leader who does not call directly for Israel’s destruction or for attacks on Jews but encourages others to express their indignation by doing so, then you still might qualify as a moderate.

In an interview on 60 Minutes the other night, President Obama looked foolish as he verbally stumbled his way through explaining the U.S. plan in Syria. There is no military or diplomatic strategy. There are only talking points and tired expressions that express nothing cogent. We should be embarrassed to support a leader so clueless on a matter so vital to international security. The president did concede to correspondent Steve Kroft that it is difficult to figure out who the moderates are amidst all the bombing and killing taking place throughout Syria.
If you have not seen the exchange between Mr. Kroft and Mr. Obama, it is worthwhile to look it up online and view it. It only runs about ten minutes.

Mr. Kroft represents the best of the liberal mainstream media that for the last seven years have been wholly supportive of Mr. Obama no matter how dangerous, wrongheaded, or bungling his policies have been. But last Sunday on CBS it looked like Kroft was signaling that even the mainstreamers may have lost their patience and have had their fill of the Obama diplomatic doublespeak and deception. The president—after the first couple of minutes—looked very uncomfortable. A usually unquestioning supporter, Mr. Kroft was taking his gloves off and coming after Mr. Obama. He told the president that President Putin of Russia was disrespecting and upstaging him.

Mr. Obama flashed that special calm but venomous look at the journalist, questioning his definition of what it means to be successful when dealing with the already five-year bloody crisis on the streets of Syria.

And what a divide there is between the way we see things and how this administration sees things. Mr. Obama says that it is a loss for Mr. Putin that in order to have an impact on the future of Syria he has Russian troops fighting against the moderate and not-so-moderate rebels as well as against ISIS. Forget about the fact that a country’s military needs to be militaristic at times. Following the Obama formula, it is also a loss for Mr. Putin if Russian air force jets have to fly and tanks and armored personnel carriers have to rumble and roll over the terror-laden Syrian terrain.

To Barack Obama, standing down and withdrawing troops from dangerous areas of the world—even those that endanger the U.S. itself—is the kind of victory that we should seek and be proud of. To the president’s credit, that seems to be the direction that some world leaders are leaning toward while others indulge in the type of foreign policies that are exclusively violence- and terror-oriented. That is why so much of the world today is in absolute chaos.

Mr. Obama does not want to be drawn into that kind of military involvement with thousands of U.S. servicemen being injured or killed in an endless war without an objective. For a legitimate world leader, though, there has to be a middle ground. The Obama policy objective today is uncertainty and keeping things in a vague state of flux. It was a lurid display of confusion on the 60 Minutes program when the president said that his policy on Syria is successful when you consider that he has put together a 60-nation coalition to fight ISIS. The reference is disingenuous because 57 of those countries have done nothing more than sign a document saying they have joined the group.

In the meantime, regardless of what Putin’s true objectives are, he is putting his money where his mouth is. He is not drawing any imaginary red lines or, like Obama, insisting that all the problems in Syria would end if only Mr. Assad would step aside. Mubarak stepped aside in Egypt; Gaddafi in Libya and Saddam Hussein in Iraq were killed. And those countries are in worse disarray today than they were when those despots were in power.

Which brings us to what is going on in Israel. The stabbings and shootings of Jews there are classic symptoms of an intifada. Fifteen years ago it was bus bombs and blowing up restaurants and cafés. Today the violent deviants are using knives that they all have access to in their homes and the stores and restaurant kitchens that they work in.

Jews are being killed and seriously injured as a national trauma is rapidly evolving once again throughout Israel. This scourge needs to stopped in its tracks, before it gets any more widespread. Even though the streets in Jerusalem are now flooded with police, there is a reluctance to fight back, with every story pointing out and distinguishing whether the terrorist involved in an attack has been “neutralized” or “eliminated.” If neutralized, this means they might be injured and were arrested. It also means that they will be going to an Israeli jail, which is a badge of honor in Arab society. If the terrorist is eliminated, that means he or she has been justifiably killed.

The attackers and murderers imprisoned in Israel are housed comfortably, are well fed, and many are allowed cell phones, unlimited family visits, and a number of educational opportunities, even being able to earn college degrees if they are there long enough. In addition, the Palestinian Authority, which is financed by the U.S. and Europe, supports the families of the murderers and attackers with dollar amounts commensurate with the extent of the savagery they have wreaked.

Of course, Mahmoud Abbas has successfully fooled us all by parading around as one of those moderates, a label that is supposed to indicate one’s ability to be dealt with on a civilized level. But how can we call him a moderate if he encourages shooting and knife attacks on Jewish men, women, and children?

It’s no wonder Barack Obama cannot find any moderates in Syria worthy of arming and supporting. As for Bibi Netanyahu, he continues so far to delude himself and take solace in the idea that Mr. Abbas is indeed a moderate who only wants to murder Jews moderately. Perhaps the best thing to do at this point is implement a policy of elimination of this kind of moderation.

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