Scott Tibbs
Hoosier Review, October 7, 2003

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Israel’s response justified

On October 4, a 27 year old woman named Hanadi Jaradat walked into a crowded restaurant and blew herself up, murdering 19 people and wounding 60 more. Four of the people killed were children and five were Arabs. Jaradat was an attorney from Jenin. She met with the Islamic Jihad in planning this act of terror.

One has to wonder what kind of evil possesses someone to walk into a crowded restaurant and kill herself in order to kill as many innocent people as possible. We expressed shock in 1995 when extremist Timothy McVeigh set off a truck bomb under a federal building in Oklahhoma City, killing the children in the building’s day care. Whatever one thinks about the issue between Israel and the Palestinians, how does murdering children solve anything? How does murdering any innocent person solve anything?

The sad thing is that this type of attack is not new, since Yasser Arafat launched an uprising three years ago. 873 people have been slaughtered since September 26, 2000, including 105 children. Israelis are constantly on guard against terrorism, and even then some militants (like Jaradat) slip through the cracks, with devastating results.

Israel responded by launching an air strike against a terrorist training camp in Syria. The U.S. State Department lists Syria as a sponsor of terrorism, and it is well-known that Syria has aided terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah for years.

No reasonable person can deny that Israel has a right to defend itself from the terrorists who have maimed and murdered so many innocent people over the last three years. Syria and other Arab countries denounced this Israeli raid and accused them of “widening” the conflict.

Israel has not “widened” the conflict. Syria has been harboring the terrorists who have cut a bloody swath across Israel for the last three years. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians already included Syria, by Syria’s own choice. The difference was that up until Sunday the attacks have been one way, from Syria into Israel. It is more than a little hypocritical for Syria to cry foul when Israel attacks terrorists on Syrian soil when Syrian-backed militants have been traveling to Israel to murder, maim and destroy for years. By backing militants at war with Israel, Syria has effectively committed multiple acts of war against Israel.

In October of 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban was harboring al-Qaida, the terrorist organization responsible for destroying the World Trade Center, severely damaging the Pentagon, and murdering thousands on September 11, 2001. How is Israel’s retaliatory strike against terrorists in Syria any different from the American action against Afghanistan two years ago?

There is no difference. In fact, Israel has displayed remarkable restraint in not acting against Syria before now. It is difficult to imagine the United States not retaliating against a state sponsor of terrorism if we were the target of the kind of campaign Israel has been subjected to.

Syria is in a difficult position in its relations with the United States right now, due to the fact that Islamic militants are entering Iraq from Syria to attack U.S. troops. The events of last weekend raised the stakes, and the U.S. should make it clear to Syria that they will not tolerate future support for terrorism.

Two years ago, the United States entered into a War on Terror. In reality, however, this war has been in effect for many years, with strikes on Libya highlighting the conflict in the 1980's. The same terrorists that have declared war in the United States are also at war with Israel. While Israel is certainly not perfect, it is our best ally in this war, and we should recognize their contributions to curtailing terrorism. The United States should send a message that we recognize Israel’s right to self-defense and that we view them as our ally and friend.