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5 Iyar 5762 - April 17, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Excerpts from Remarks of B. Netanyahu to US Senators in Washington D.C.

The following are excerpts from remarks by B. Netanyahu, former prime minister of Israel, before a group of U.S. senators in Washington D.C. discussing the current events in the Middle East. At the breaks, material was left out. Mr. Netanyahu was on a publicity tour of the U.S. on behalf of Israel.

Thank you. I want to thank Senators Kyl and Lieberman for hosting this gathering, and for my many friends, the distinguished senators who are here, and Senator Helms, who have all been stalwart supporters of the State of Israel and the excellent relationship between our two countries.

It is for the sake of our common values that I have come here today. I have come here to voice what I believe is an urgently needed reminder that the war on terror can be won with clarity and courage or lost with confusion and vacillation.

Seven months ago, on a clear day, in this capitol of freedom, I was given the opportunity to address you, the guardians of liberty. And I will never forget that day -- a day when words that will echo for ages pierced the conscious of the free world. These were words that lifted the spirits of an American nation that had been savagely attacked by evil, words that looked that evil straight in the eye and boldly declared that it would be utterly destroyed. And most important, words that charted a bold course for victory.

Now, these words were not mine. They were the words of the president of the United States. In an historic speech to the world that September, and with determined action in the crucial months that followed, President Bush and his administration outlined a vision that had the moral and strategic clarity necessary to win the war on terror.

The moral clarity emanated from an ironclad definition of terror and from an impregnable moral truth. Terrorism was understood to be the deliberate targeting of civilians in order to achieve political ends, and it was always unjustifiable. With a few powerful words, President Bush said all that was needed to be said. Terrorism, he said, is never, ever justified.

And the strategic clarity emanated from the recognition that international terrorism depends on the support of sovereign states, and that fighting it depends -- demands that these regimes be either deterred or dismantled. In one clear sentence, President Bush expressed this principle. He said, "No distinction will be made between the terrorists and the regimes that harbor them."

This moral and strategic clarity was applied with devastating force to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that supported al Qaeda terrorism. No moral equivalence was drawn between the thousands of Afghan civilians who are the unintentional and unfortunate casualties of America's just war, and the thousands of American civilians deliberately murdered on September 11th. No strategic confusion led America to pursue al Qaeda terrorism while leaving the Taliban regime in place.

Soon after the war began, the American victory over the forces of terror in Afghanistan brought to light the third principle in this war on terror -- namely, the imperative for victory, the understanding that the best way to defeat terror is to defeat it. Now, I know this sounds to you tautologous and it must have seemed at first to be a trite observation. It wasn't fully understood.

But contrary to popular belief, the motivating force behind terror is neither desperation nor destitution. It is, in fact, hope -- the hope of terrorists, systematically brainwashed by the ideologues who manipulate them, that their savagery will break the will of their enemies and help them achieve their objective.

Now, if you defeat this hope, you defeat terrorism. Convince terrorists, convince their sponsors and their potential new recruits that terrorism will be thoroughly uprooted and severely punished, and you will stop terrorism in its tracks.

By adhering to these three principles -- moral clarity, strategic clarity, and the imperative for victory -- the forces of freedom, led by America, are well on their way to victory against terror from Afghanistan. But that is only the first step in dismantling the global terror network. The other terrorist regimes must now be dealt with rapidly in similar fashion.

And yet today, just seven months into the war, it is far from certain that this will be done. Faced with the quintessential terrorist regime of our time, a regime that both harbors and perpetrates terror on an unimaginable scale, the free world is muddling its principles, losing its nerve, and thereby endangering the successful prosecution of this war.

The question many in my country are now asking is this: Will America apply its principles consistently and win this war, or will it selectively abandon these principles and thereby ultimately risk losing the war? My countrymen ask this question because they believe that terrorism is an indivisible evil that must be fought indivisibly. They believe that if moral clarity is obfuscated, that if you allow one part of the terror network to survive, much less be rewarded for its crimes, then the forces of terror will regroup and rise again.

Until last week, I was absolutely certain that the United States would adhere to its principles and lead the free world to a decisive victory. Today, I too have my concerns. I am concerned that when it comes to terror directed against Israel, the moral and strategic clarity that is so crucial for victory is being lost. I am concerned that the imperative of defeating terror everywhere is being ignored when the main engine of Palestinian terror is allowed to remain intact. I'm concerned that the State of Israel, that has for decades bravely manned the front lines against terror, is being pressed to back down just when it is on the verge of uprooting Palestinian terror.

These concerns first surfaced with the appearance of a reprehensible moral symmetry that equates Israel, a democracy that is defending itself against terror, with a Palestinian dictatorship that is perpetrating it. The deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians has been shamefully equated with the unintentional loss of Palestinian life that is the tragic but unavoidable consequence of legitimate warfare. Worse, since Palestinian terrorists both deliberately target civilians, and deliberately hide behind civilians, Israel is cast as the guilty party because more Palestinians have been killed by Arafat's terrorist war than Israelis have been killed.

No one, of course, would dare suggest that the United States was the guilty party in World War II because German casualties, which, by the way, included millions of civilians, were 20 times higher than American casualties. So too, only a twisted and corrupt logic would paint America and Britain as the aggressors in the current war because Afghan casualties are reported by some -- I don't have conclusive figures -- to have well exceeded the death toll of September 11th.

The responsibility for civilian deaths in the U.S. on September 11th and in America's subsequent military actions lies squarely with the Taliban's chief, Mullah Omar, and with Osama bin Laden. And similarly, the responsibility for civilian deaths in Israel, and in Israel's subsequent military action in Palestinian- controlled areas, lies squarely with Yasser Arafat, who has actually the dubious distinction of being the world's only terrorist chieftain who both harbors and perpetrates terrorism.

Now, my concern was sparked not only by this specious allocation of blame for civilian casualties, it deepened when, incredibly, Israel was asked to stop fighting terror and return to a negotiating table with a regime that is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state and openly embraces terror. Yasser Arafat brazenly pursues an ideology of "poliscide" -- I think I coined this phrase -- "poliscide," which is the destruction of a state, and he meticulously pursues it by promoting a cult of suicide, and with total control of the media, the schools, the ghoulish kindergarten camps for children that glorify suicide martyrdom -- for G-d's sake, this is a man who signs the checks for the explosives for the suicide bombs. Arafat's dictatorship has indoctrinated a generation of Palestinians in a culture of death, producing waves of human bombs that massacre Jews in busses, discos, supermarkets, pizza shops, cafes -- everywhere and anywhere.

Israel has not experienced a terrorist attack on the scale that you have witnessed on that horrific day in September. That unprecedented act of barbarism will never be forgotten. It too will live in infamy. In my judgment, it will surpass in infamy the other great attack on America. But in the last 18 months, Israel's six million citizens have buried over 400 victims of terror -- a per capita total equal to half-a-dozen September 11ths. This daily -- indeed, hourly carnage, is also unprecedented, even in terrorism's long and bloody history. Yet, at the very moment when support for Israel's war against terror should be stronger than ever, my nation is being asked to stop fighting. And though we are assured by friends that we have the right to defend ourselves, we are effectively asked to suspend -- not to exercise that right.

But our friends should have no illusions. With or without international support, the government of Israel must fight, not only to defend its people and to restore a dangerously eroded deterrence to secure the Jewish state, but also to ensure that the free world wins the war against terror in this pivotal arena in the heart of the Middle East.

* * *

But to assure that this evil does not re-emerge a decade or two from now, we must not merely uproot terror but also plant the seeds of freedom. If we win against Arafat, as I know we will -- if you win against Saddam and Iraq -- what will prevent a new Saddam or a new Arafat from coming back 10 years or 20 years from now?

It is important to understand that only under tyranny can a diseased, totalitarian mindset be widely cultivated. And this totalitarian mindset, which is essential for terrorists to suspend the normal rules that govern human beings' conscious behavior -- the behavior that prevents them from committing grisly acts, from blowing up babies, or a bus full of innocent people -- you have to brainwash people systematically under a tyrannical system in order to get them to make these acts, these suicide acts.

Well, it is impossible to produce such a mindset in a climate of democracy and freedom, because the open debate and plurality of ideas that buttresses all genuine democracies and the respect for human rights and the sanctity of life that are the shared values of all free societies, these are, at the end of the day, the permanent antidote to the poison that the sponsors of terror seek to inject into the minds of their recruits.

And that is why it is also imperative that once the terror regimes in the Middle East are swept away, the free world, led by America, must begin to build democracy in their place. This will not happen overnight, and these will not become western democracies overnight or ever.

But we simply can no longer afford to allow this region to remain cloistered by a fanatic militancy. We must let the winds of freedom and independence finally penetrate the one region in the world that clings to unreformed tyranny.

* * *

I have come before you today to ask you to courageously continue to carry this torch with courage, with honor, by standing by an outpost of freedom that is resisting an unprecedented terrorist assault. I ask you to stand by Israel's side in its fight against Arafat's tyranny of terror, and thereby help defeat an evil that threatens all of us, that threatens all of mankind. And, knowing you, I'm sure that you will respond.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)


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