Jerusalem (JTA) — Just a few months ago, America lost thousands of its citizens to terrorist attacks. How can we defeat this international terrorism?
First, we must recognize the difference between freedom and tyranny, between good and evil.
President Bush boldly declared that terrorism, the deliberate attack on civilians, is never justified; it is always evil. Israel and the United States are today waging the same war and confronting the same evil.
Like the United States, Israel did not seek this war. It was forced on us by a savage enemy that glorifies in a culture of death, in which murderers are called martyrs and suicide is sanctified.
Second, we must topple the terrorist regimes. An enemy that sends children to die and to kill other children is an enemy that cannot be placated. An enemy that openly preaches the destruction of our state is not a partner for peace.
With such evil, there can be no negotiations and no concessions. The only way to fight it is to confront it and to destroy the regimes that sustain it. Once terror is defeated, I believe other Palestinians will come to the fore with whom we will forge a genuine and lasting peace.
Yet the apologists of terror say that the way to end terror is not to fight it but to appease it, to give in to the terrorists’ demands. The root cause of terrorism, they say, is the deprivation of national and civic rights.
If that were the case, we would have found endless examples of terrorism in the thousands of conflicts and struggles for national and civil rights in modern times. But the opposite is true.
Mahatma Gandhi did not use terrorism in fighting for the independence of India. The peoples of Eastern Europe did not resort to terrorism to bring down the Berlin Wall. Martin Luther King, Jr., did not resort to terrorism in fighting for equal rights for all Americans.
These and other genuine fighters for freedom pursued their cause without resorting to terror because they believed in the sanctity of each human life. They were committed to the ideals of liberty, and they championed the values of democracy.
Means reveal goals
But those who practice terrorism do not believe in these ideals. They believe that the cause they espouse is so all-encompassing, so total, that it justifies anything and everything. They believe that it allows them to break any law, discard any moral code and trample all human rights into the dust.
There is a name for the mind-set that produces this evil. It is called totalitarianism. Indeed, the root cause of terrorism is the totalitarian mind-set, a tyranny that systematically brainwashes the minds of its subjects to suspend all moral constraints for the sake of a twisted cause.
This is why from its inception totalitarianism has always been wedded to terrorism, from Lenin to Stalin to Hitler to the ayatollahs to Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden to Yasser Arafat.
It is not merely that the goals of terrorists do not justify the means they use. It is that the means that they choose tell you what their real goals are.
Those who target the innocent never protect freedom and human rights. We can see this clearly every time terrorists come to power. Those who fight as terrorists rule as terrorists, setting up dark dictatorships in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan or Arafatistan.
Indeed, Palestinian Authority President Arafat is the quintessential terrorist. Both the means he employs and the goal he espouses are illegitimate.
Arafat pursues a goal of “policide,” the destruction of the Jewish state, by employing the means of suicide and mass terror. Arafat does not want a Palestinian state next to Israel. He wants a Palestinian state instead of Israel.
By contrast, any time that Israel has been confronted with an Arab leader who was genuinely committed to peace and spoke of peace to his people, we have made peace with that leader: Prime Minister Menachem Begin with Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin with Jordan’s King Hussein.
But five Israeli prime ministers have been unable to make peace with Arafat for a simple reason: Arafat does not want peace.
America rightly defeated the Taliban. And today, in an historic mission that deserves the support of civilized peoples everywhere, President Bush is courageously leading the free world to dismantle Saddam’s regime before it acquires nuclear weapons.
If Israel is to end terror and begin peace in our own part of the world, we must also dismantle Arafat’s regime, a mission equally worthy of support from all foes of terror and all friends of liberty.
Benjamin Netanyahu is a former prime minister of Israel and a leader in the Likud Party.