The Same Loyalty
by Jonathan Rosenblum
Baltimore Jewish Times
October 15, 2004
Fox News recently made a rare visit to the fervently Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem to film an American vote-registration drive. One of the first questions asked of those registering was: Do you feel it is appropriate to vote in an American election while living in Israel? That is not a question that would have been asked of tens of thousands of expatriate Americans registering to vote in London, Paris, Toronto, or Mexico City.
Those living in Israel, the question implies, will be voting based on their narrow (Jewish) self-interest, not the best interests of the United States. Yet no one ever impugns the fitness to vote of millions of American citizens who do so primarily on the basis of self-interest or single issues – seniors concerned with prescription drug prices, farmers addicted to grain subsidies, or NRA members.
I have lived in Israel for 25 years, and yet I have never felt so much a patriotic American as today. I view America’s republican government as, in Lincoln’s words, the "last best hope of mankind." By voting, I will be doing what I can to ensure that the United States remains the world’s great beacon of freedom.
I am untroubled by insinuations of dual loyalty. Nor should the mere 15% of American Jewry, who according to a recent Democratic poll, rank Israel (and not, say, "reproductive rights") among their top three electoral concerns. The same Providence that destined America to be the world’s bulwark against threats to liberty – whether from dictatorships or overreaching multinational bureaucracies – has linked the fates of Israel and the U.S.
As a consequence, concern for the physical security of one’s fellow Jews in Israel places one on the right side of the overarching issue facing the U.S: how to deal with the threat of Islamic terror. Israel’s struggle for survival is but a subset of West’s struggle against terrorism generated by failed Islamic societies.
The single issue of Islamic terrorism dwarfs all others. A series of large-scale terror attacks in the United States or Europe would plunge the world into depression, and render the economic impact of tax cuts or budget deficits trivial by comparison. Western countries would be transformed into security states, in which the irritation of today’s airport security measures would not even register.
THE BATTLE WITH ISLAMIC JIHAD is above all a test of will that pits, in the words of jihadist preachers, the lovers of death against lovers of life. The former are continually probing to expose the weakness of the lovers of life. Every such sign only emboldens them further. (The failure of the Jakarta bombing of the Australian embassy to tip the recent Australian elections is, from this point of view, a highly positive sign.)
In a series of interviews in the late ‘90s, Osama bin Laden described how the lack of American response to the first World Trade Center bombing, the hasty retreat from Lebanon, after the bombing of a Marine barracks, and the flight from Somalia a decade later convinced him that America was a paper tiger. The subsequent feeble response to the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the U.S.S. Cole only confirmed that impression.
The jihadists cannot be appeased; their list of non-negotiable demands is too long. They seek world hegemony and the destruction of all who do not submit, not some minor territorial adjustments. The European model of rational bureaucrats engaged in calm discussion has no relevance for jihadists. Expressions of understanding for their rage and sympathy for their backwardness only inspire more contempt and rage.
Improving defenses against terrorists and their weapons is crucial. But a purely defensive posture or a law enforcement approach of rounding up a few bad guys offers no hope. America cannot presently come close to stopping the flow of illegal immigrants or drugs, and will be no more able to interdict every terrorist or WMD, especially with tens of thousands of potential Moslem terrorists already living among us.
The West must understand what Israel rediscovered after the Netanya Pesach massacre: the battle must be taken to the enemy: Once the suicide bomber is strapped up and on his way it is too often too late.
Only the transformation of failed Moslem societies offers, in the long run, a means of draining the swamps in which the terrorists breed. Creating examples of free civil societies in Iraq and Afghanistan provides the only means of reducing the threat of Islamic terror. Abud Musab al-Zarqawi has explicitly acknowledged that the emergence of democracy in Iraq would spell his doom. Thus the savagery employed to stop it.
Promoting strongmen, in the name of stability, cannot lead to requisite transformations. The great error of Oslo, for instance, was the failure to recognize that a Palestinian dictatorship would always need Israel as an external enemy to distract the population from their downtrodden state. That is why America has correctly recognized Palestinian democracy as a pre-condition for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Prior to that, a return to the peace process – i.e., further Israeli concessions – is not only pointless but counterproductive.
The candidate who most thoroughly comprehends the nature of the struggle will be the best for the entire free world, not just Israel.
Related Topics: Peace Process
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