WASHINGTON On Tuesday night Haifa mayor Amram Mitzna proved that our Labor party has officially decided to march its way directly into the political dustbin. For this he is to be thanked. In his unambiguous message of total capitulation to Palestinian terrorism — I'll negotiate with Arafat and if he won't agree, I'll give him a state anyway — Mitzna has done a service to the country.
Gone are Labor's protestations of patriotism and security-mindedness. Gone are the vestiges of national responsibility and self-respect that could give voters pause to believe that despite all the failures, perhaps the party of David Ben-Gurion still exists. With Mitzna comes clarity: In handing the helm to Amram Mitzna on a silver platter, the Labor party said good-bye to its ninety-year legacy of national leadership and responsibility and embraced the party's decade-old identity as an ultra-orthodox movement of true believers in the all knowing Messiah of Oslo.
The night before Labor's self-destruction, in a glittering ballroom not far from the Pentagon outside Washington, DC, a different, less historic and yet highly revealing occasion was taking place. US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz received the Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson Distinguished Service Award from the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.
No one has ever bothered to ask Mitzna what he thinks of President George W. Bush or the US administration's war on terrorism. He has never been asked about Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. But judging from Mitzna's enthusiastic embrace of Yasser Arafat in the face of the Bush administration's pointed demand that the mastermind of the Palestinian terrorist war against Israel be replaced, it seems reasonable to assume that Mitzna, like Shimon Peres, does not hold the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies in particularly high regard.
What is most interesting about the Bush administration's policies regarding international terrorism is that in large part, they were framed twenty-five years ago by the namesake of Wolfowitz's award — the late US Senator Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson. And the interesting thing about Jackson's view of international terrorism is how central Israel's unstinting war against Palestinian terrorism was in shaping his thinking.
The occasion at which Jackson articulated his thoughts most extensively was in a speech he gave in Jerusalem in 1979 when he addressed the Conference on International Terrorism sponsored by the Jonathan Institute named for Yoni Netanyahu. In his speech in 1979, Jackson referred to terrorism as "a modern form of warfare against liberal democracies" whose goal "is to destroy the very fabric of democracy."
Alluding to the PLO, Jackson argued then, "To insist that free nations negotiate with terrorist organizations can only strengthen the latter and weaken the former. To crown with statehood a movement based on terrorism would devastate the moral authority that rightly lies behind the effort of free states everywhere to combat terrorism." Jackson ended that address by praising Israel's battle against Palestinian terrorism saying, "In providing for her own defense against terrorism, Israeli courage has inspired those who love freedom around the world."
Jackson was a leader in the Democratic party and yet, in the 1970s, as that party under George McGovern and Jimmy Carter veered increasingly to the anti-war, "blame America first" Left, many of Jackson's key aides switched to the Republican Party. These "Jackson Republicans" among them Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Elliot Abrams, Jeane Kirkpatrick and Frank Gaffney held key positions in the Reagan administration. Today they and their proteges are now firmly rooted in the Bush administration.
In accepting his award on Monday night, Secretary Wolfowitz extolled Jackson, his mentor, as a visionary. In so doing, Wolfowitz spelled out his view that terrorism, as the greatest evil in the world today, must be expunged by force because it cannot be appeased.
Perhaps to avoid being quoted, on Monday night, Wolfowitz spoke of who he is by commenting on Jackson. "One of the things that characterized Scoop," he said, "was a willingness to confront the truth squarely, including some of the world's worst evils, but at the same time, to think in hard practical terms about how to deal with them." Wolfowitz drew a straight line connecting Jackson to his current boss, President Bush saying that the late politician "would have been proud and pleased to know our President," who Wolfowitz defined as "a man who is determined to move forward strategically, pragmatic step after pragmatic step toward a goal that the faint-hearted deride as visionary."
Wolfowitz used Jackson to defend against his own critics who have cast aside his clear views of fighting international terrorism by mindlessly labeling him as a "hawk." He said that Jackson himself once rejected this label, quipping "I'm not a hawk or a dove, I just don't want my country to be a pigeon."
For his part, Wolfowitz took strong issue with those, like Mitzna, who argue that fighting terrorism is not a goal because there is no promise of Nirvana at the end of the fight. "To suggest that we must accept a dismal status quo because we cannot achieve perfection is to counsel despair. It discourages us from those bold and realistic steps that can achieve real progress," he said.
Denouncing the appeasers, Wolfowitz explained that defeatists are singularly ill-equipped to lead a war for freedom from terrorism. "Freedom cannot be defended, much less advanced by the faint hearted who shun all risks. And it cannot be advanced if we believe that evil dictators can be brought around to peaceful ways without at least the threat of force."
Wolfowitz, who is now one of the principle architects of the US war against Islamic terrorism, comes from a pedigree of successful strategists schooled by Henry Jackson. Their policies are shaped by a deep-seated belief in the justice of their country. They acknowledge realistically that as the land of freedom and liberty, the US is locked in a constant and never-ending struggle against movements and ideologies that would murder innocents and blot out freedom.
As their teacher, Henry Jackson made clear, the inspiration for much of what they stand for comes from watching and emulating Israel.
It is the legacy of the Jewish state, indeed of the Jewish people as the solitary fighter combating terrorism against innocent civilians that captivated these men's attention thirty years ago. It was Israel's struggle that made them recognize that terrorism, like Communism – the major threat of that day must be fought without compromise. As Jackson put it, "The idea that one person's 'terrorist' is another's 'freedom fighter' cannot be sanctioned. Freedom fighters or revolutionaries don't blow up buses containing noncombatants; terrorist murderers do . It is a disgrace that democracies would allow the treasured word 'freedom' to be associated with the acts of the terrorists."
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem on Thursday morning, terrorist murderers greeted Mitzna's "peace at any price" victory by blowing up a bus full of children on their way to school.
The job of the Likud, whether led by Ariel Sharon or Binyamin Netanyahu is to restore to Israel the mantle of warrior for freedom and justice against darkness and evil – a mantle we wore so defiantly and naturally throughout our history until Oslo. Our earlier unstinting combat of terrorism is in large part responsible for the fact that today the Bush administration is able to advance so clearly the notion that terrorists mu
st be destroyed because they cannot be appeased.
Amram Mitzna's ascension to leadership of Labor, like George McGovern and Jimmy Carter's leadership of the Democratic party in the 1970s, has shown that the Likud today, like the Republican party then is the only party capable of leading.
Paul Wolfowitz quoted on Monday night from President Bush's State of the Union message in explaining the end of the current war. "This is a decisive decade in the history of liberty," Bush said. "We've been called to a unique role in human events. Rarely has the world faced a choice more clear or consequential."
According to the opinion polls, we Israelis have already made our choice. The great challenge before our leadership today is not merely to remind us that we have no choice but to fight and win our war on terrorism. Our leaders must make us again believe, like we once made Senator Jackson believe, that by fighting without apology and without pause, we are fulfilling our dream of advancing the cause of world peace by making our world safe for ourselves to live freely and without fear.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.