So long as there is the smallest rationale that legitimizes terror and the infliction of terror on people, the global war against terror will not be a success.
So while it was at first shocking that terror would so wantonly visit rush hour in London, it was---at the same time--- not surprising. Observing the British reaction to becoming victims of Islamic terror and watching how the media covered the breaking events as they happened was both fascinating and intriguing. Watching from the wary perspective of having studied and absorbed so much and so many terror attacks in Israel one could not help but to reflexively note the contrasts of the media coverage of terror in Israel and terror in London on a routine Thursday morning.
As the news began to come out of London of explosions in the underground and possibly on a double-decker bus, instinctively both British officials as well as news reporters tried serving up a different type of spin on these attacks as compared with what we have become accustomed to hearing over the last few years---that there was an attack of this nature somewhere in the streets of Israel. To that end discussion on the news during the first few hours after the attack revolved around whether or mot there were suicide bombers involved in these attacks. Strangely and with a sense of relief Brittan’s police immediately reported that there were definitely no suicide bombers involved.
We all know that as events were pieced together it became clear that all four attacks were brought to bear by suicide bombers. So why the official rush early on to declare that no such bombers were involved? Apparently there seems to be levels of depravity----acceptable and unacceptable---when it comes to these types of attacks. It was as if had these been planted bombs the entire episode would have been elevated a level or two. Suicide bombings, however, are the lowest and most frightening type of an attack that a population anywhere can be subjected to. What can terrorize a people, a community or a country more than the possibility that the person sitting next to you may have a bomb strapped to their belly or back?
This is terror in its rarest form. This is what the United States fight steadfastly with heightened security and the rules of the Patriots Act which keeps suspected terrorist out of our country. They cannot attack us if they are not physically here and in the aftermath of 9/11 and President Bush’s initiatives this country has significantly stepped up it’s fight against terror and commitment to protecting us---the citizens of this country.
Out there in the world, however, the idea exists that if you lend terror a little sympathy and understanding, if you give them a little freedom and latitude within your borders they will be appreciative and express that appreciation by not attacking you. What happened in London proved the absurdity of this theory. Nonetheless, a good deal of the political left and some of the right in this country understand the motivations and causes of terror.
Leading the charge on this count is none other than one of the more liberal New York Times columnists, Thomas Friedman. This is what he wrote in the July 15 paper. “One of the London bombers was married, with a young child and another on the way. I can understand but never accept suicide bombing in Iraq or Israel as part of a nationalist struggle. But when a British Muslim citizen, nurtured by that society just indiscriminately blows up his neighbor and leaves behind a baby and pregnant wife, to me he has to be in the dangerous grip of a cult or preacher---dangerous to his faith community and to the world.”
Friedman is right----they certainly are dangerous to the world, all the world. Two weeks ago the IDF apprehended a Palestinian woman on the way to a hospital in Israel where she had been treated for an ailment several weeks prior. What can be more innocent than a woman going for a follow up consultation with her doctor? I’m sure that Israel security frequently lets such cases slide through with minimal scrutiny. Thankfully that was not the case this time. The woman on the way to the hospital was wearing a bomb and planned to blow herself up in the hospital. Is Tom Friedman saying that he understands the rationale for her actions? It’s people like Friedman and the attention they command that must give terrorists some hope of prevailing sometime down the road.
This was a major part of the problem with how the United States as well as other countries---including Israel--- dealt with Yasser Arafat during all those years of his tyrannical rule of Palestinians in the territories. Arafat was an open and avowed terrorist that sometimes indulged in the doublespeak of diplomacy. The Europeans and even the US wanted so badly to turn him into a legitimate leader, so much so that they even agreed to look the other way every time he authorized a terrorist attack with the hope that this would be the last pr perhaps next to the last murders that he would oversee of innocent people. This behavior was not only an endorsement of the scent of triumph that terrorist could bring but an attitude that encouraged terrorist elsewhere in the world---folks like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
Tom Friedman’s understanding of suicide bombings under certain circumstances and the free worlds desire to turn terrorists into diplomats just does not work. It communicates to fledging terrorists that their twisted violent ways have a chance to bear fruit if only they persist and stay the course---things that should repulse those who love freedom and democracy wherever they are found. Using Friedman’s logic he should clearly understand why Islamic terrorist sought to bomb a bus and London’s underground two weeks ago. England is America’s staunchest ally in the battle to bring democracy to Iraq and freedom to the Iraqi people. London is the second most important player globally in the effort to defeat terror. At the same time London apparently subscribed to Friedman’s way of thinking--- lend understanding to and coddle the terrorists and they won’t attack you. It’s like trying to reason with a scorpion. Tony Blair’s first comment on the bombings in his capital city was that it was because of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He probably now realized how terribly wrong he was.
A few years ago during the height of the intifada when Palestinian terrorists would attack Israeli’s in busses and on the streets and then Israel would hit back with the ferocity of the IDF, then Israel Deputy Defense Minister, Ephraim Sneh appeared with a Palestinian counterpart on ABC-TV’s Nightline. Sneh was apologetic to his adversaries for being forced by the terrorists to seek them out and retaliate. Sneh said, “What can we do, in Israel our problem is that our strength is our weakness.” It’s a mind boggling concept, having to apologize for having the ability to overcome and defeat your enemy. It’s Tom Friedman logic. It encourages terror attacks. And when fighting terror the only weakness is being weak.