Fighting to win is only option

August 16, 2006|By CAL THOMAS

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Fighting to obtain a cease-fire is not likely to encourage Israeli soldiers who have given their lives and limbs to defeat a mortal enemy. And turning to the United Nations and its anti-Israel secretary-general to monitor the cease-fire is not exactly a confidence builder, given the U.N.'s record in the region.

Who believes the United Nations has the guts to disarm Hezbollah, as required by a previous U.N. resolution? When arms and missiles continue to flow from Iran and Syria, will the United Nations shout, "Halt!" and apply the necessary force to stop them? They didn't before. And what makes anyone think that Hezbollah is about to disarm? The Jerusalem Post reported recently: "The Lebanese government was scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss the disarming of Hezbollah south of the Litani River, but postponed that meeting following indications by the guerrilla group that they would not do so."

Writing Sunday in The Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick observes, "The resolution makes absolutely no mention of either Syria or Iran, without whose support Hezbollah could neither exist nor wage an illegal war against Israel."

Hezbollah's diplomatic victory feeds its erroneous claim of sovereignty over Lebanon's Shebaa Farms, which separates the Syrian Golan Heights region from the Upper Galilee. The dispute over who owns the territory is between Syria and Israel, not Lebanon and Israel.

At best, Hezbollah has been hurt enough to buy Israel time to rebuild its towns, damaged from the hundreds of rockets fired indiscriminately at civilian targets - with virtually no outrage from the international community, whose fire is reserved for Israel's unintentional strikes on civilians. At worst, Hezbollah will regroup to fight another day with even more dangerous weapons and stronger resolve.

Israel's political leadership must decide whether it wants a nation born in modern times out of a Holocaust to die a slower and inevitable death through terrorist attrition, or whether, as Prime Minister Menachem Begin once told me, Israel alone must be responsible for its own defense and future.

Writing in Haaretz, columnist Ari Shavit calls 2006 "the most embarrassing year of Israeli defense since the establishment of the State of Israel." He laments the absence of a "learning curve" by the government, its slowness to react to provocations, and its caution, which he calls "a recipe for disaster."

The U.N.'s failed efforts in the region extend back at least to 1978, when it created the Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in response to the Coastal Road massacre, during which Palestinian terrorists based in Lebanon hijacked a bus and murdered several dozen hostages and Israeli soldiers. After Israel invaded Lebanon to destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization's terrorist base, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution calling on Israel to "immediately" withdraw. It established UNIFIL to "assist the government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority to the area."

That never happened, and terror returned. When Israel again cleaned out the area in 1982, terror returned as Hezbollah. Too many years elapsed before Israel acted again, thus allowing Hezbollah to establish tunnels, weapons and manpower, which made the current war much more difficult for Israel.

Within the memory of most people over 40, the free world could distinguish between good and evil. But today, fewer make such judgments, and "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter." Instead of the World War I lyric "We won't come back till it's over, over there," we - or in this case Israel - come back before it's over. As a result, it isn't over and it won't be over until Israel and the West get over moral equivalency and political correctness and fight to win. The evil guys are fighting to win.

Cal Thomas' syndicated column appears Wednesdays in The Sun. His e-mail is

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