Friday, September 08, 2006

Sad News for a Friend in Israel

Ned Barnett
(c) 2006

On the day that Israel accepted the UN-brokerd "cease-fire," I sent this (below) to a friend and professional colleague, "David," who owns a PR firm in Israel. Like me, he's a strong advocate of a strong Israel. I think this assessment of what this so-called cease fire really means, to Israel, to America, to the Middle East (and, though they don't give a damn, the world) is on-target, and worth sharing more broadly.

David -

You need to know how this so-called "cease fire" is playing in the US. I mean this as no attack on you - it was your country's elected government that struck this shameful surrender to terror, not you - but a "shameful surrender" and "defeat" is just how the US (and the world) now sees Israel's retreat from confronting terror.

This does not bode well for Israel.

For instance, it will be much harder for America to support Israel in the future, especially if we have to take the heat for that support. After all, if your government won't take the heat, the reasoning will go, why should we? As bad - or perhaps even worse - this does not bode well for US activities targeting terrorists throughout the middle east. We will now be seen as the ally of a paper tiger, one on the losing side. It's tragic - and I've got to wonder what in hell your government leaders were thinking in "making peace" with terrorists who think nothing of strapping bombs on children to blow up Israelis, let alone pumping hundreds of high-explosive war rockets into civilian neighborhhoods. To my mind, the only peace you make with terrorists like that is the peace of the grave - their grave. Israel used to know this.

As I said, this is not going to play well in the US - at least not from the perspective of those who support Israel and who believe that there can be no quarter asked or given when fighting terrorists. Here's how I see the "take" on the cease fire, here in the US.

1. Expert "pundits" are already all over the Sunday TV talk shows and on cable news (not to mention in the New York Times), proclaiming that Hezbollah won their war with Israel. This now-legitimized terrorist organization has defeated the once-feared IDF, and in doing so, they have forced the Israeli government into a shameful negotiated armistice. This, they say, is a virtual surrender, and they're right. This cease fire leaves Hezbollah strong and in place, while it has shattered what's left of Israel's "moral high ground" (that which came because Hezbollah started the war). Israel is no longer seen as formidable, nor is it seen as standing on the high ground, nor even seen as willing to defend itself. That's today's news, the media's spin, on this cease fire.

2. If they haven't already done so, American friends of Israel are now on the verge of giving up. They are wondering - perhaps rightly - why they should speak out, or take the heat, when Israel's own elected government clearly doesn't have the spinal fortitude (i.e., the backbone) to stand up to terror. When Israel would rather cut-and-run, taking the first easy out and leaving their friends hanging, twisting slowly in the wind, why should their friends in America stand strong for them?

3. This defeat of Israel (for that is how it is perceived by enemies of Israel - and, sadly, by her friends as well) undermines the entire US position in the Middle East - and in the process, it makes those on the American Left who demand a quick withdrawal of US forces from the region feel far more powerful. How can we, they reason, stand up to terror when our strongest (perhaps our only real) ally in the Middle East would rather give in to terror than to fight it? More important, they ask, WHY - why should we bother to fight terrorists, and take casualties, when Israel would rather surrender to Hezbollah as soon as the blood-price started to hurt, just a bit?

4. Terrorists everywhere now know that democracies cannot stand the heat - we cannot stay the course and stand up to terror. Worse, they now know that all they have to do to win is to survive, to wait out the freedom-loving democracies, who cannot stand against terror (or the casualties inflicted by terrorists). Israel has shown that their long-suffering democracy - one that was once ready to pay any price for freedom - cannot now stand even moderate casualties inflicted in a short-term, "sanitized" war, no matter how many rockets hit the homeland, no matter how many innocent civilians back home pay the ultimate blood-price for your government's unwillingness to fight evil. That is a terrible message to send to terrorists, yet what else should they deduce from this surrender to Hezbollah?

Bottom line: Israel's friends feel that they were sold down the river by your elected government - and they will wonder why they should ever again stand up for Israel, when clearly Israel won't stand up for herself - while Israel's enemies have been emboldened as never before.

This has got to be a bitter pill for you, David, but if I'm right (I hope I'm not, but I fear I am) things will only get worse for you and your country. Terrorists - Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, and all the other crazies - they'll all now see you as a toothless old tiger. Eager for blood and victory, they will pounce on your still-breathing carcass, slavering for their own piece of still-warm flesh. These terrorists will be emboldened, and the blood-price your country has paid so far will prove to be a small down-payment on the ultimate price.

The worst thing you can do is surrender to terrorists, and that is exactly what it seems your government has done.

I wish it were otherwise, and I hope I am wrong. You, and your brave country, are in our prayers, but as an old American saying goes, "God helps those who help themselves ..."

All the best