President Bush said to Congress on September 20, "We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism... Any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." Israel, like America, is now doing exactly as President Bush said - pursuing terrorists and those who support and harbor them. Yet Bush is now demanding that Israel "restrain" its similar anti-terrorist actions.
The Bush administration's demand that Israel exercise "restraint" when facing terrorists echoes the Clinton administration's failed policies. Bush should learn from Clinton's mistakes. From 1993-2000, Clinton pressured Israel to restrain its anti-terror actions and make one-sided concessions to Yasser Arafat. His administration gave the Palestinian Arabs nearly $1-billion in financial aid and overlooked Arafat's constant violations of the agreements he signed with Israel. Did Clinton's appeasement policy work? Hardly. Despite America's generosity, Arafat last year launched a terrorist war against Israel, which, during the past year, has claimed nearly 200 Israeli lives. Arafat's own Fatah, Force 17 and Palestinian Authority security services are carrying out the bulk of the terrorism.
The case of Abdel Rahman Hamad illustrates the flaws of the appeasement policy. Hamad was one of 400 Hamas terrorists whom then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin deported in 1992. Clinton pressured Rabin to let them return to Israel, arguing that such an Israeli concession would facilitate Arab goodwill.
Hamad resumed his terrorism, culminating in the June 2001 bombing of a Tel Aviv discotheque, slaughtering 22 young Israelis, mostly teenage girls. When Israel tracked down Hamad and eliminated him earlier this month, the Bush administration condemned Israel's action. Clinton's appeasement of the terrorists did not bring peace, it only brought Hamad back into Israel. Bush's attempt to appease the terrorists by condemning Israel's elimination of Hamad and other terrorists will not bring peace, either.
Despite Clinton's pro-Arafat tilt, Bush's constant criticism of Israel and Bush's endorsement of Palestinian statehood, the Palestinian Arabs remain overwhelmingly hostile to America. Arafat's official media is filled with vicious anti-American incitement and thousands of Palestinian Arabs - including police officers - publicly celebrated the World Trade Center attack. A recent poll found 89% of Palestinian Arabs condemn America's actions against Bin Laden.
If the United States can go halfway across the world to invade a sovereign country, Afghanistan, in order to eliminate terrorists, surely Israel is justified in entering a non-sovereign area, directly adjacent to its major cities, to eliminate terrorists. Indeed, the Oslo accords - which Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin signed - specifically permit such incursions: Oslo II, Article X, Par.4 states that despite the withdrawal of Israeli troops from some parts of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, in those areas "Israel shall continue to carry the responsibility for external security as well as the responsibility for overall security of Israelis for the purpose of safeguarding their internal security and public order." Oslo II, Annex I, Article XI, Par. (a) & (b) state that in any area "where Israeli authorities exercise their security functions," Israel has the right to undertake "engagement steps" that are "aimed at preventing or terminating any "act or incident constituting a danger to life or property." Israel may "take any measures necessary to bring to an end such an act or incident."
Furthermore, the terrorists Israel are fighting wish to harm Americans, as well: Arafat's media are filled with anti-American incitement, Palestinian Authority (PA) schoolbooks teach that Western civilization will be reduced to "a pile of rubble," a recent poll found 73% of Palestinian Arabs support terrorist attacks against "American targets" and the top PA-appointed clergyman, Sheikh Ikrama Sabri, has repeatedly urged Arabs to "destroy America" and "paint the White House black."
Arafat's regime clearly meets Bush's definition of sponsoring and harboring terrorists. His Fatah, Force 17 and PA security forces are carrying out most of the terrorism against Israel (murdering nearly 200 Israelis in the past year), and he harbors killers from other terror groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. If the United States fights only Bin Laden in Afghanistan, but does nothing against regimes that harbor and finance terrorists, such as Arafat's PA, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Libya, terrorism will continue and Americans and Israelis will continue to die. Bin Laden is just the tip of the terrorist iceberg.
National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice said on September 23: "We are not going to declare that there are good terrorists and bad terrorists. If you sponsor terrorism, you are hostile to the United States." It's time to put those words into action. The administration should stop treating Arafat's forces as if they are "good terrorists," and start treating them like the killers that they are. By, in effect, protecting Arafat's terrorists from Israeli pursuit, President Bush is sending the Palestinian Arabs a message that American policy will become more pro-Arab due to Arab violence, thereby inadvertently encouraging more terrorism.
Morton A. Klein is the National President of the Zionist Organization of America.