Monday, July 17, 2006

Billy Get Your Gun

Four years ago, the Daily Times reported that former U.S. President Bill Clinton would have been more than happy to put his life on the line for Israel.

“The Israelis know,” Clinton told a crowd at a Toronto Jewish charity fund raising event, “that if the Iraqi or the Iranian army came across the Jordan River, I would personally grab a rifle, get in a ditch and fight and die.” Clinton’s remark, the paper noted, shocked many Arabs who may have thought he was “more even-handed on the Palestine question than his predecessors.”

Since that time, the Iraqi army has undergone (ahem) reconstitution, but a Hezbollah army of terrorists backed by Iran that has found sanctuary in Lebanon and Syria recently pounded Israel with rockets, with predictable consequences, causing some in Toronto and elsewhere to wonder whether it might be time for the former president to leap into an Israeli foxhole.

Former President Clinton’s wife, the artful and agile Hillary Clinton, is defending her seat as a New York senator, and there are wild rumors that she intends to run at some point on the Democrat ticket for president. Should she be successful, Israel will be gratified to know that they have a potential grunt friendly to them who sleeps but a whisper away from the president's ear.

But none of this will help the punching bag of the anti-war movement, Senator Joseph Lieberman. The long train of abuses that belatedly led to what some have called Israel’s “exaggerated” response to years of mid-East terrorism – If Hezbollah smite thee on the cheek, rip off its head – is not yet fodder for the anti-war chatterers. They can’t quite figure Israel out; the damned nation seems determined to survive, and the proper approach to take towards a democratic state beset on all sides by 10th century theocrats who wish to push it into the sea is still a work in progress among the anti-war, anti-Lieberman crowd over at DailyKos and the Huffington Post, two popular liberal blog sites. According to a recent communication from Lamont’s campaign, “Ned believes that the war in Iraq and threatened action against Iran are destabilizing the Middle East and making Israelis’ and Palestinians less secure.”

But in recent months Israel has made serious concessions to the Palestinians that now has compromised its security. By returning the Gaza Strip to Palestinians, Israel implicitly recognized the necessity and desirability of a Palestinian state. The missles that plowed into non-military targets in Israel were launched from Lebanon by Hezbollah, a Syrian and Iranian backed terror group. Is it possible that Arab states are impervious to concessions? Is it possible that concessions are regarded by them as an fatal admission of weakness that should and must be exploited? Is it possible that Lieberman’s opponents have misunderstood the nature of Israel’s enemies?

Commenting specifically on the current situation, Lamont’s campaign says that he “also supports a two-state peaceful solution and that diplomacy has to be the tool of choice, not force. He believes more has to be done to get international and US aid to humanitarian groups to assist the regular people who are the ones being hurt by this situation.”

But certainly many more than two states are mischievously involved in pressing for a final solution to the Israeli problem. Recent statements concerning the destruction of Israel made by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has praised Hezbollah as a “symbol of pure thought of Islam,” resonated throughout the Arab world and could not have been reassuring to the humanitarian groups the Lamont campaign wishes to insert in the area to assist “the regular people who are the one’s being hurt by this situation.”

In a recent rally in New York, Hillary Clinton said, “To everyone who can hear us, we will stand with Israel, because Israel is standing for American values. We will support her efforts to send a message to Hamas, Hezbollah, to the Syrians, to the Iranians, to all who seek death and domination instead of life and freedom, that we will not permit this to happen, and we will take whatever steps are necessary.”

These brave words cannot easily be molded into campaign bullets destined for the breasts of Lieberman and Bush, and they will not stand Clinton in good stead with the more virulent of Lamont’s homegrown supporters. Both Clintons talk the talk wonderfully well; however, no one should expect either of them to walk into a foxhole any time soon.

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