Tyranny And Terror

Remember all those who keep saying that Palestinian terrorism is the result
of years of oppression by the Israelis, and is the natural reaction of a people under
the thumbs of the Israelis?
Binyamin Netanyahu says that they’re full of shit
. (It’s an OpinionJournal
featured article, so you’ll need to register to view it.)

Netanyahu’s analysis is dead-on. A sample:

But the root cause of terrorism, the deliberate targeting of civilians, is not the deprivation of rights. If it were, then in the thousands of conflicts and struggles for national and civil rights in modern times we would see countless instances of terrorism. But we do not.

Mahatma Gandhi fought for the independence of India without resorting to terrorism. So too did the peoples of Eastern Europe in their struggle to bring down the Berlin Wall. And Martin Luther King’s campaign for equal rights for all Americans eschewed all violence, much less terrorism.

If the deprivation of rights is indeed the root cause of terrorism, why did all these people pursue their cause without resorting to terror? Put simply, because they were democrats, not terrorists. They believed in the sanctity of each human life, were committed to the ideals of liberty, and championed the values of democracy.

But those who practice terrorism do not believe in these things. In fact, they believe in the very opposite. For them, the cause they espouse is so all-encompassing, so total, that it justifies anything. It allows them to break any law, discard any moral code and trample all human rights in the dust. In their eyes, it permits them to indiscriminately murder and maim innocent men and women, and lets them blow up a bus full of children.

There is a name for the doctrine that produces this evil. It is called totalitarianism.

The Arafat regime is indeed a totalitarian regime, and one that does exactly as Netanyahu describes. The almost religious reverence that the Palestinians have for Arafat is the same false belief that motivates all totalitarian states; love the leader or die. What is going on in Palestian territory isn’t patriotism or desire for a state. It’s about the need to exterminate the Jewish people. If it were only about a state, they could have a state. Gandhian non-violent resistance could have easily brought them their own homeland years ago. They had the force of international sympathy on their side, and even those in Israel who saw their plight and were willing to help.

Instead, as Netanyahu notes, they chose the path of terror. As President Bush once said, that path leads directly to history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies.

Netanyahu also gives us a clear course of action:

The open debate of ideas and the respect for human life that are the foundation of all free societies are a permanent antidote to the poison that the terrorists seek to inject into the minds of their recruits.

That is why it is imperative that once the terrorist regimes in the Middle East are swept away, the free world, led by America, must begin to build the institutions of pluralism and democracy in their place. This will not happen overnight, and it is not likely to result in liberal, Western-style democracies. But given an option between Turkish-style freedom and Iranian-style tyranny, the choice is clear.

We simply can no longer allow parts of the world to remain cloistered by fanatic militancies. Such militancies, once armed with nuclear weapons, could destroy our civilization. We must begin immediately to encourage the peoples of the Arab and Islamic world to embrace the idea of pluralism and the ideals of freedom–for their sake, as well as ours.

Netanyahu is not the voice of genocide or fanatacism. He does not say that we need to kill all the Palestinians in order to have peace. In the end, his message, as well as those who support ideals like his, is about peace. The only way we can have peace is to sweep aside the regimes that would continue the bloodshed. The war we fight is the same war that we fought a half-century ago. It’s a war of democracy against tyranny, free expression against repression, plurality against fanaticism. It is a war that the future demands we win.