Sunday, June 08, 2003

The New York Times called upon an expert on terrorism to offer his thoughts on how to counter the plague. His advice, based upon long experience, was straightforward: ÒThe terrorists, and especially their commanders, must be eliminated.Ó He gave three examples of successful counterterrorist actions: the US bombing of Libya, the Israeli bombing of Tunis, and IsraelÕs invasion of Lebanon. He recommends more of the same Òif the civilized world is to prevail.Ó The Times editors gave his article the title: ÒItÕs Past Time to Crush The Terrorist Monster,Ó and they highlighted the words: ÒStop the slaughter of innocents.Ó They identify the author solely as ÒIsraelÕs Minister of Trade and Industry.Ó His name is Ariel Sharon.(New York Times (September 30, 1986)) His terrorist career, dating back to the early 1950s, includes the slaughter of 69 villagers in Qibya and 20 at the al-Bureig refugee camp in 1953; terrorist operations in the Gaza region and northeastern Sinai in the early 1970s including the expulsion of some ten thousand farmers into the desert, their homes bulldozed and farmlands destroyed in preparation for Jewish settlement; the invasion of Lebanon undertaken in an effort Ñ as now widely conceded Ñ to overcome the threat of PLO diplomacy; the subsequent massacre at Sabra and Shatilla; and others.

Some might feel that the choice of Ariel Sharon to provide Òthe civilized worldÓ with lessons on how to Òstop the slaughter of innocentsÓ may be a little odd, perhaps perverse, possibly even hypocritical. But that is not so clear. The choice is not inconsistent with the values expressed in action and the intellectual culture expressed in words Ñ or in silence.

In support of this conclusion, we may observe that the remedy for international terrorism Ñ at least, a substantial component of it Ñ is within our grasp. But no action is taken to this end, and indeed the matter is never discussed and is even inconceivable in respectable circles. Rather, one finds accolades to our benevolent intentions and nobility of purpose, our elevated Òstandards of democracy, freedom and humanism,Ó sometimes flawed in performance. Elementary facts cannot be perceived and obvious thoughts are unthinkable. Simple truths, when expressed, elicit disbelief, horror, and outrage Ñ at the fact that they are voiced.

In a moral and intellectual climate such as this, it may well be appropriate for the worldÕs greatest newspaper to select Ariel Sharon as our tutor on the evils of terrorism and how to combat it.

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