Some people in Europe and elsewhere are deeply disturbed that the U.S. Navy Seals on their secret mission in Pakistan last week killed an unarmed Osama bin Laden. But it didn’t matter to me whether he was fighting back or not at the time he was shot.
He did his fighting by training al Qaeda followers to murder almost 3,000 innocent men, women and children in the U.S. on 9/11, not to mention the many hundreds and thousands of his fellow Muslims who have been his victims since then.
He rejoiced in these acts, and called for the destruction of Big Satan and Little Satan — America and Israel.
So whether bin Laden was killed in a firefight or executed by an American bullet, justice was done, as President Barack Obama said.
I think bin Laden was evil. He was zealous in his religious belief that we in the West are infidels and thus deserving of death. He saw the world in black and white, and cared more about waging a worldwide religious war than in caring for his own people.
He needed to be defeated, not debated.
I know there are many people uncomfortable with the notion that we — Americans, Jews or both — have real enemies who seek to destroy us and our way of life.
In an age of political correctness and relativism, it may sound jarring to speak in such terms. And surely we have to be cautious about applying such definitions. But Judaism acknowledges evil at work in the world and mandates a response.
Jewish history and tradition speak of Amalek, the personification of evil in his attack on the weakest of the Israelites in the Bible, and the obligation to erase his memory, and the memory of subsequent Amaleks, from Haman to Hitler, who rise up against us.
If there is anything we have learned from the Holocaust in the days after our annual observance of Yom HaShoah, it is that when a political or religious demagogue calls for the destruction of an entire people or way of life, take him seriously. And take action to stop him.
That was true of Hitler, and the world suffered horribly for its disbelief that the man who spelled out his plan in “Mein Kampf” to seek world domination and destroy the Jews would carry out his convictions. It took a dozen years and many millions of deaths to stop the instigator of World War II.
It was true of bin Laden, and the U.S. sought him out and hunted him down.
Today, the president of Iran denies the Holocaust even as he threatens to launch another one, calling for the destruction of the Jewish state. But as Tehran speeds up its efforts to develop the instruments for nuclear warfare, the naysayers and disbelievers insist that we should not overreact. It’s just rhetoric, they say, calling for more dialogue even after Washington’s engagement efforts these last two years have been rejected out of hand.
And now, as Israel celebrates its 63rd Independence Day, the Jewish state finds itself in a unique position — never stronger, or more vulnerable. It’s the kind of contradiction that Israelis have learned to live with, balancing existential threats to their existence with the joys of daily life. But many of us who love and support the Jewish state worry that the international tide of support for a Palestinian state will prevail come September at the United Nations despite the reality of a new Palestinian leadership that includes Hamas, the terror group still firm in its mandate to eradicate Israel.
True, Jerusalem’s democracy is thriving in a sea of Mideast turmoil, and its military is powerful. But after more than six decades of statehood, its borders are not determined, its diplomatic standing in the international community is increasingly isolated and its chief enemy, Iran, appears closer to tightening its grip on the region surrounding Israel through its militant surrogates in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and maybe Egypt.
The Quartet (the U.S., European Union, UN and Russia) dealing with Mideast peace continues to insist on The Three Principles: that prior to recognition of Palestinian statehood Hamas must renounce violence, honor past Israeli-Palestinian agreements and recognize the Jewish state. But these nations are acting as if nothing has changed since Hamas and the Palestinian Authority merged, even though the leaders of Hamas have made clear that they have no intention of adhering to any of the three requirements.
The New York Times reported Monday that in an interview, Khaled Meshal, the leader of Hamas, “pointedly declined to say that [a Palestinian] state would mean the end of his movement’s dispute with Israel nor would he declare his opposition to the use of violence.
“Unfortunately, nonviolence doesn’t work against Israel,” he said. (At least he’s direct about his positions.)
For now, Meshal would prefer to let PA President Mahmoud Abbas serve as diplomatic front man, asserting that he, Abbas, is still in charge of dealing with Israel and “I am against terror and violence.”
So far this good cop/bad cop arrangement seems to be working even though the two partners — the PA and Hamas — can’t even agree on a common goal. Abbas says it’s to create a state; Hamas, according to its leadership and charter, says it is to eradicate one — namely, Israel — and Jews everywhere.
But even the U.S. refuses to say outright that it would stop funding a unified PA-Hamas government at this point or stop urging Israel to negotiate with a government co-led by a party espousing genocide.
The limits of reason have been reached here. Dialogue and diplomacy are in order when there is a basis for compromise. But as Hamas has made brutally clear, that is not possible in this case —unless the issue is Israel’s national suicide.
The New York Times editorial Monday, “A Fatah-Hamas Deal,” got it half right. We certainly agree that the deal “is not the answer” to building a “successful Palestinian state.” But in calling on Washington “to press Mr. Netanyahu back to the peace table,” the Times ignores the fact that it is the Israeli prime minister who has been calling for renewed negotiations and Abbas who has refused until Israel suspends, again, all settlement activity.
When Abbas is prepared to risk the advances that have been made via Washington and Jerusalem in West Bank security and economy for the artificial appearance of Palestinian unity, he should face the consequences of his decision rather than be rewarded for it.
He can’t have it both ways: peacemaker and co-conspirator.
Partnering with the devil has its price.