Eye on the Middle East Nov/Dec 2001
In a matter of minutes on September 11, Americans were led into the violent world Israelis have occupied in the Middle East for more than half a century. Despite the fact that terrorist murder-merchants repeatedly declared their intentions to kill and maim Americans in massive numbers, few people took them at their word. It just couldn’t happen here, they thought. But porous airport security and authorities indifferent to ominous intelligence warnings made it all too easy to accomplish the “impossible.” So last month, fuel-heavy, highjacked jetliners slammed into the heart of America. It was a black day for the United States and freedom but a spectacular win for international terrorism.
Radical zealots in the Muslim world viewed the tragedy with unbridled glee and trumpeted their contempt for the United States. They were collectively convinced that the Great Satan was at last being brought to its knees. Their disdain for our dead and their intemperate threats of future carnage were monumental mistakes.
In a very real way, the United States suddenly emerged from decades of apathy and shook off the fiction that the threat of attack from abroad died with the end of the cold war. Those who said America has been forever changed were not far off the mark. Certainly, with time, the acute rage, frustration, and demands for an immediate, retaliatory, military strike will begin to subside. But the dangers America and democratic societies face will not. Rogue, radical Islamic nations are racing to achieve nuclear capability, which will give them delivery systems for weapons able to hit Tel Aviv; New York; Washington, D.C.; London; and whomever else they deem offensive to their demented way of life.
Israel’s 1981 air attack on Iraq should be a pattern for future long-term actions by the United States and its allies. When Israeli jets swept down on the Iraqi nuclear plant to deliver a preemptive knockout blow, most of the international establishment cried “foul.” But the intervening years have proven, to the relief of those same thin-skinned bureaucrats, that the Israelis did us all a tremendous service. One can predict that the same hue and cry will be raised in some quarters when allies begin to bomb the death factories of Saddam Hussein, the Mullahs of Iran, and their big-time-terrorist wannabe pals.
Today two words ring in my ears. I have heard them repeatedly over the years from Israeli friends in the military when discussing the final objective of unavoidable combat. They are these: “Finish it!”
President Bush has been given carte blanche to use every means available to repay the perpetrators for the evil they have committed and to expose and shut down those who have provided support, safe haven, and a green light to keep on killing. We now say to the president, “Finish it!”
In the process, we must not forget that, despite the understandable reticence to offend Arab leaders who have been asked to join the coalition, Israel cannot be treated as a separate case. Backing off on using such words as crusades and infinite justice to avoid offending Muslims may be a small matter. But excluding Israel as a full partner is quite another.
On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the people of the United States, as well as many hundreds who were here from other countries, fell prey to unspeakable aggression. On that day, the die was cast. No longer can anyone doubt that these attacks have placed in jeopardy two bastions of democracy (the United States and Israel) as well as religious freedom; civil liberties; and moral, ethical lifestyles. Let us not forget that the same radical Islamic network that killed hundreds aboard the highjacked airliners and cut down thousands in the World Trade Center towers and Pentagon also have scattered the bodies of scores of innocent Israeli civilians at the Dolphinarium Disco in Tel Aviv, Sbarro Restaurant in Jerusalem, and along the roads of Israel.
Sensitivities aside, Israel will be there, standing for us and with us, when many others in the region have taken their leave. In a recent speech, President Bush said, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Israel, without reservation, is with us. And we must allow Israel to help us “Finish It.”
The compelling message for Christians relates to the current wave of terror afflicting our fellow believers in many parts of the world. The same terrorist network that attacked America and is waging relentless war on Israel is slaughtering, incarcerating, and selling into slavery Christians in numbers unheard of in modern times. To kill us and/or drive us from the Islamic world is their fondest obsession. Therefore, we must recognize that the scope of this conflict extends beyond the two fronts of Israel and America. We are the third front; and we must respond accordingly.