Politics & Policy

Bibi Was Right

Netanyahu saw this coming.

“Our security problems are not about to go away with the withdrawal; they will only begin.”

The prophecies of Israel’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu have come to fruition, and proponents of the Gaza Strip pullout have a lot to answer for.

Written off as a reactionary right-winger by those who think that militant Palestinian minds can be swayed from the goal of the destruction of Israel, one can take note today of why Netanyahu so fervently opposed Israel’s Gaza pullout — and why he was right to do so.

“Gaza will be transformed into a base for Islamic terrorism adjacent to the coast of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu told the Jerusalem Post days before the withdrawal.

The Post reported last October that al Qaeda may have moved in as soon as Israel moved out. “Our efforts are now focused on establishing a strong and unified Muslim nation where love prevails among all its members,” read a leaflet distributed in Khan Younis. The al Qaeda group also claimed in a video that it had fired rockets into Israeli settlements on the eve of disengagement. In March, two West Bank Palestinians allegedly plotting a large-scale attack were charged with membership in al Qaeda.

In addition to physical presence, al Qaeda has stepped up propaganda in the region. Their online “Voice of the Caliphate” news show has accused Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of collaborating with Israel against Hamas, and in June al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri called on Palestinians to reject a two-state referendum proposed by Abbas. A pamphlet circulated in Gaza by the Army of Jihad in February and obtained by World Net Daily claimed that al Qaeda had a leader in the region, to appear “very soon.”

Gaza, post-pullout, has provided a safe haven in a pitifully weak security situation, with a government sympathetic to jihad.

This has also inspired terrorist groups to get more ambitious. Hamas’s military wing scored distance records with its upgraded Qassam rockets, striking deeper than previous Palestinian rockets have ever reached into Israeli territory. Hezbollah has also achieved its deepest strikes into northern Israel.

THE FURY OF MUSLIM NATIONS

“This it isn’t just our problem,” Netanyahu told the Jerusalem Post back at the pullout. “It’s the West’s problem as well because forces that are controlled, deployed and cooperate with Iran–and today Hezbollah and Hamas are controlled in a significant way by Iran–will receive an additional base of operations not only in close proximity to Israel’s cities but also on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea not far from Europe.”

Now Israel is simultaneously under attack from both terrorist groups–receiving vociferous backing in recent days from none other than Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At a regional conference this month supposedly intended to discuss the Iraq security situation, Ahmadinejad delivered his opening remarks on the Middle East in the wake of the Gaza conflict instead:

The basic problem in the Islamic world is the existence of the Zionist regime, and the Islamic world and the region must mobilize to remove this problem. Today there is a strong will… to remove the Zionist regime and implement a legal Palestinian regime all over Palestine.

… The waves of fury of Muslim nations will not be confined within the boundaries of the region, and the people who close their ears to the cries of the Palestinians and blindly support this regime will be responsible for the consequences.

Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric has only become more heated and ambitious with the Israel-Hezbollah conflict: “The day on which the regional people will rejoice will definitely come soon and the world is standing on the threshold of great development and the Muslims are expected to overcome their aggressive enemies,” he said Tuesday, adding that Israel’s offensive was pre-planned. Two days earlier, according to the state-run news agency, Ahmadinejad said, “The Zionists think that they are victims of Hitler, but they act like Hitler and behave worse than Genghis Khan.”

And he’s far from being a lone voice in Iran. In a speech aired Tuesday, parliament speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel said, “Today is the day of the liberation of Palestine, and the day of resistance. As said by [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah, this courageous, vigilant, and informed religious scholar, the war has just begun. … The Americans should know that as long as this festering growth remains in the body of the Islamic world, with their support, the Muslims will never, under any circumstances, cease to hate and oppose America.”

“To Hassan Nasrallah we say, Well done,” added the speaker. “This religious scholar roars like a lion, and the blood of Imam Khomeini rages in his veins.” Iran drawing that parallel certainly doesn’t bode well for the region.

Vowing to launch blistering retaliation if Syria — the Hezbollah backer and host to exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal — is attacked, Ahmadinejad has also been on the phone promising aid to Syrian president Bashar Assad and promising to spin Israel’s defensive action as an attack on the entire Muslim world. Meanwhile, Israel’s fight against Hezbollah is successfully drawing attention away from the nuclear “energy” crisis of another one of the terrorist group’s backers, Iran.

“DEATH TO ISRAEL”

“Our policies need to be bringing down the hopes of terrorists,” Netanyahu said in June 2005. “But the Palestinian street instead is accepting the Hamas line that terrorism is what drove Israel out of Lebanon in 2000, and is driving Israel out of Gaza now. Next the West Bank, and on to Tel Aviv, Haifa, the rest of Palestine.”

Violence in Gaza and the rule of Hamas have turned Israelis against a similar pullout in the West Bank. A June survey in Haaretz found that just 37 percent of Israelis polled supported Ehud Olmert’s proposal for unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank, whereas a February poll showed 60 percent support for the plan. Straight from the horse’s mouth, even Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan told Haaretz last month that a West Bank withdrawal will do nothing to solve the bloodshed, but perpetuate it.

The June 25 Palestinian attack on the Israeli border post in which Cpl. Gilad Shalit was taken prisoner was claimed by Hamas’s Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Army of Islam. The last group first appeared in May with a leaflet P.R. campaign championing a caliphate. Israeli intelligence suspected al-Qaeda links. It was the PRC that reportedly paid a Fatah-linked group to kidnap and murder 18-year-old Eliyahu Asheri, who was taken from the West Bank just hours after Shalit was grabbed. There is no “road map” in these minds, just an assertion that all this land is theirs and a determination to make the West Bank just another front in that offensive.

The European Union slammed Israel for using “disproportionate” force in the face of Hezbollah’s copycat attack on the northern front. Perhaps EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, on his peace mission to the area, should have rented an apartment in northern Israel and fervently prayed that a rocket didn’t land on his porch. “Israel is our enemy,” Nasrallah said last year on Al-Manar TV. “This is an aggressive, illegal, and illegitimate entity, which has no future in our land. Its destiny is manifested in our motto: ‘Death to Israel.’”

INDEPENDENCE DAY

Thirty years ago, Lt. Col. Jonathan Netanyahu was killed in a daring raid that rescued 100 hostages from Palestinian and German hijackers at Entebbe airport in Uganda. There was no prisoner swap, as was demanded by the hijackers, just enough negotiation stalling to swing the military operation into action. There was no politically correct restraint when so many lives were at stake, no permission from the United Nations, no dragging of heels.

In this way the July 4, 1976, Entebbe rescue was an independence day of sorts from terrorism. Now Israel faces a fight for its very survival, under attack at both ends by the terrorists of Hezbollah and Hamas. The Israelis also fight for us, the rest of the free world, who have let the terrorists call the shots one too many times (i.e. Madrid) and not understood that Israel’s battle is a microcosm of the global threat posed by Islamofascism.

So at these crossroads, remember the words of Benjamin Netanyahu: “If you flee from terror, then terror continues to chase you.”

 – Bridget Johnson is a columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She blogs at GOP Vixen.

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