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   AUGUST 2001 -  Issue #137    


Why Are They Obsessed with Israel?

Herbert Zweibon

The world is beset with conflicts and problems which, by all rights, should attract the active interest of the Bush administration's foreign policy experts.

There is the violent struggle between India and Pakistan for control of the Kashmir region. There are the ongoing problems with China, ranging from its threats to Taiwan to its brutal suppression of political and religious dissidents. There is the human rights violations by the Arab Muslim government of Sudan, which is enslaving Black Christians and animists.

There are the persistent efforts by Iraq--now free of United Nations inspectors--as well as Iran and Libya to develop weapons of mass destruction. Not only has the Bush administration not focused attention on ways to more actively combat this menace, it has actually worked feverishly on Capitol Hill to weaken the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA).

Yet at this time of crises all across the globe, the administration chooses to focus almost obsessively on just one issue: Israel and the Palestinians.

During its first months in office, the Bush administration adopted a hands-off attitude toward Israel and the Palestinians. But under pressure from the Arab states and the Europeans, all that changed. Now virtually every Israeli anti-terror action sends State Department officials rushing to the nearest word processor to issue yet another condemnation.

In recent months, we have witnessed a seemingly endless parade of Bush administration officials hurrying to the Mideast to orchestrate new "cease-fires." First it was CIA director George Tenet. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell. Then State Department bureaucrat David Satterfield. Their version of a "cease-fire": Israel ceases, while the Palestinians still fire.

In late July, in a reversal of the longstanding U.S. position against sending foreign "observers" to monitor Israeli and Palestinian actions, the Bush administration embraced the demand by Arafat and the Europeans for "third-party" observers, who will invariably blame Israel for every outbreak of violence. The Europeans, too have become obsessive about Israel, without any pretense of evenhandedness. They are venomously anti-Israel, period.

How is it that the mighty United States cannot compel a tin-horn dictator like Yasser Arafat to stop shooting at an ally of America? The answer is that there is a vast difference between having power in theory and exercising power in practice. The administration could pressure Arafat if it wanted to--by cutting off financial aid, by suspending diplomatic relations, and by giving Israel a green light to defeat the terrorists--but it chooses not to.

The Bush administration appears to believe that focusing on the Palestinian issue and pressuring Israel for concessions is the only way to avoid a regional Middle East war. Iran and Iraq have made various threatening statements lately; Syria has demonstratively tested its advanced Scud missiles; and Egypt has threatened to renounce its peace treaty with Israel if the Israelis defeat Arafat's terrorists.

Paradoxically, the policy of appeasing such regimes is likely to encourage such a war, not prevent it. Even the most hesitant Israeli government eventually will have no choice but to engage in a full-scale assault on the Palestinian Authority terrorist government. If the Arab regimes see that America is on Israel's side, they will be afraid to get involved; but if they see that America is staying on the sidelines, they will believe they have a free hand to join the war.

The appeasement policies of the 1930s led to a war that cost tens of millions of lives. Let us hope the Bush administration will avoid repeating that error.

Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel.


The Oslo Delusion ...3

Christians and Jerusalem ...7

Another Look at the Mitchell Report ...9

August 2001               - 1 -               Outpost


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