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Sympathy among occupiers?

Matt Zalaznick

At the same time the Justice Department is arresting men it accuses of financing Hamas terrorists in the Middle East, the Bush administration is pumping up the group’s suicide bombers with better and better propaganda to blow up buses in Israel. The administration, worried that its pal Ariel’s political problems could hurt W.’s standing with the religiously imperialistic and Christian fundamentalist supporters of Israel, has said it would be all right if some of the settlements in the West Bank expanded by a few hundred homes here and there, give or take an acre or two of Palestinian territory.Before we attacked Iraq, the administration’s tolerance of the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was the No. 1 reason that Arabs less fanatic than al-Qaida had to hate Americans. But the administration’s battle for Arab hearts and minds – from Ramallah to Fallujah to Kandahar – has been half-hearted and often, politically self-serving. So it’s not surprising the United States hasn’t been tougher with the Israelis. Stifling the eternally useless Yasar Arafat, though an unpopular move in the Arab world, was one of the few clever foreign policy decisions the administration has made. But squeezing the Palestinians without also putting substantial pressure on Israel is not in the best interest of the Jewish state. Israel is faced with problems beyond the simply ideological in assuring its survival. The original Zionists envisioned a democratic, Jewish homeland. But an Israel that includes the Gaza Strip and the West Bank – and the settlements there – can only be a democratic, Jewish homeland if the world is willing to accept a rerun of South African-style apartheid in which Arafat becomes a vulgar version of Nelson Mandela. Israel, as it stands now, cannot be democratic and Jewish because if the Palestinians within its borders had an equal say, Yasar Arafat might soon be the prime minister of Israel and the country would no longer be run by the Jews, who would soon be a minority. But an Israel withdrawn from the West Bank and Gaza to its U.N.-mandated borders can stay true to ideals of the original Zionists, if not to the dreamy visions of extremist rabbis who seem blind to the tyranny to which their county has been driven. Pulling out of the West Bank and Gaza, of course, would require intense support from the rest of the Arab world in helping the Palestinians create a viable society. But Israel, and its supporters in America – both Jewish and Christian – is worried about how secure such it would be without its buffers in the West Bank and Gaza. The answer is more secure. An Israel withdrawn from the West Bank and Gaza could take the moral high ground back from the Palestinians and would be free to use its overwhelming military strength to attack and annihilate Palestinian terrorists whom the world could no longer call freedom fighters.The suicide bombers would be seen for the maniacs they are, should they continue slaughtering innocent Israelis after the world had let them run their own country. The United States should have a better understanding of this dynamic. The world gave us plenty of political room to fight the war on terror after we were attacked on Sept. 11, but the world has not been so happy since we rumbled into Iraq unprovoked. City Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or at mzalaznick@vaildaily.comVail Colorado


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