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August 11, 2006

Why We Must Support Israel

Karen Lewis

While I have been a frequent critic of the current administration in Washington, I am both supportive and appreciative of its current position toward Israel. The United States both recognizes the strategic importance of Israel as well as her right to defend her borders.

The Hamas-led launching of missiles from the northern Gaza into Israel, the killing of several Israeli soldiers and the kidnapping of another required Israel to respond.

At the same time, the unprovoked, and unprecedented attacks by Hezbollah on Northern Israel, including Haifa, Israel's third largest city, left Israel no choice but to respond to attacks on her soldiers and her civilian centers and to defend herself on a second front.

Israel has clearly demonstrated its willingness to compromise and make peace. Seven years ago, Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon and a year ago unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza strip, including relocating almost 8,000 Israeli citizens living in Gaza.

Now, from both of these areas, Israel is being attacked, with the Palestinian authorities and the Lebanese government doing nothing to control this terror or stop the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel.

These conflicts are the direct result of ongoing attacks into sovereign Israel from Hamas and Hezbollah and, as a consequence of the intrusion and capture of Israel military personnel. This fact is clearly recognized by the Bush Administration, has been acknowledged by European leaders and others, and has even been referred to by members of the Arab press.

Hamas is the duly elected governing force in Palestinian lands; Hezbollah is a formal part of the Lebanese government. Israel is under simultaneous attack on two of its borders by forces that are a part of their governing body and not just by scattered bands of terrorists.

And there appears to be nothing that Israel can offer Hamas or Hezbollah other than the dissolution of the Jewish state that seems capable of curbing these terrorist groups' lust for wanton destruction and death.

Hezbollah's ties to the totalitarian regimes in Syria and Iran add an additional chilling dimension to this escalating conflict. It is reported that Iran transfers between $100 million and $200 million to Hezbollah each year, while Syria often acts as an intermediary between Iranian suppliers and Hezbollah forces. It has been said that Israel is really fighting Iran with Hezbollah acting as Iran's agent.

The Bush administration is to be commended for its immediate condemnation of these attacks, and recognizing that Israel can not safely maintain a cease fire or execute a withdrawal from Lebanon until Lebanon can guarantee that it will no longer be a launching pad for missiles and Hezbollah is disarmed.

Nevertheless, the U.S. has sent a strong message to Israel to carry out her military activities with maximum sensitivity to humanitarian concerns and to the welfare of civilians, and to do everything possible to assure that basic civilian needs are met.

Although world opinion has been critical of Israel for the many civilian deaths in Lebanon, Israel is not targeting civilians. Israel is focused on attacking Hezbollah command centers and missile launching sites.

Clearly Hezbollah is ensuring that they surround themselves with civilians in order to either cripple Israel's ability to retaliate or to influence world opinion.

On the other hand, Hezbollah has intentionally targeted their missiles at Israel's largest civilian populations. Over 3000 have been sent in the past several weeks. It is only because Israel is forced to live under a constant threat of terrorism that she hasn't lost a proportionate number of soldiers and civilians.

I hope and pray that this conflict will come to an end at the earliest appropriate point and in a manner that roots out the forces of terror, ensures that the elected leadership of the Palestinian and Lebanese people are responsible and accountable, and moves the parties to this conflict toward diplomacy and peace.

Anything less than Israel's survival as an independent state with secure protection from harm is totally unacceptable.

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