As the Israeli people waited Thursday for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to implement his cabinet's decision to widen the ground offensive in Lebanon, Britain found itself under siege. British security officials announced that the entire country was on a red alert for a terror attack. The night before, British security forces foiled a terrorist conspiracy to explode some ten US-bound passenger jets.
As London's deputy police commissioner Paul Stephenson told reporters, "This was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale."
By Thursday morning security forces had arrested some 21 suspects. All are British citizens. All are Muslims.
It is not a stretch of the imagination to assume that these British Muslims are jihadists. Indeed, it can probably be assumed that, like their predecessors last July 7, they made their decision to commit an unspeakable atrocity against their countrymen to advance Islam's takeover of Britain.
The path of jihad is the path of terror. Using terror, the jihadists believe that they can destroy the confidence of citizens of free societies and so coerce them to bend to their will.
In his letter to US President George Bush last May, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad enunciated the coercive goal of jihad when he threatened the US with war unless Bush converts to Islam. Iran, which today leads the global jihad, has managed to make the language of jihad the lingua franca of the Muslim world.
Many have noted that Hizbullah's initial attack against Israel on July 12 was highly convenient for Teheran. Distracted by the war in Israel and Lebanon, the G-8 and the UN Security Council put off their discussions of Iran's nuclear weapons program, which were scheduled to take place that week.
While the actual date of the attack is easily explained, the question still arises, why is the jihad picking up steam now? Why are fanatical Muslims on the march this summer?
It would seem that the answer to this question is found in the increased cultural weakness of the two states leading the war against radical Islam: the US and Britain. In both countries, for the past two years, the forces of leftist radicalism and appeasement have been on the rise. Both countries' leaders are hated by ever larger swaths of their countrymen for their stand on the war against jihad.
And so they waver.
On Tuesday, Britain's Home Secretary John Reid discussed the twin dangers of jihad and Western cultural weakness. Reid argued that Islamic terrorism has placed Britain in its greatest peril since the end of World War II. Reid proceeded to utter a stinging indictment of the British judiciary for preferring the "human rights" of terror suspects to the right of British citizens to security.
Just last week, the British High Court ruled that security forces had to loosen restrictions they had placed on six Iraqis suspected of links of terrorism.
Tuesday also saw the defeat of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman in the primary elections for the Democratic nomination to the Senate. He was beaten by wealthy businessman Ned Lamont, who based his entire campaign on attacking Lieberman for his support for the war in Iraq. The months-long primary campaign against Lieberman was replete with venomous anti-Semitic attacks on him, his family, American Jews and Israel by Lamont supporters.
Lieberman's defeat by an "anti-war" candidate is a clear sign that the Democratic Party is morphing into a radical leftist party. If this trend is not reversed, America's political climate will likely become much less sympathetic and supportive of Israel and much more supportive of countries like France, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. A deterioration of the position of American Jews is also liable to ensue.
UNDER ATTACK domestically, both Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have less time and ability to rally their nations to fight against the forces of global jihad. Moreover, as a result of its own culture wars, Israel today finds itself led by the weakest government it has ever had. The weakness of all three governments presented Iran with an unmistakable opportunity to strike.
While Bush and Blair's weakness is the result of political forces, Olmert's weakness is inherent to his nature. Yet, today, the ability of both Blair and Bush to convince their nations to support their war efforts against forces committed to the destruction of their nations' ways of life is dependent on Olmert's ability to lead Israel to victory in the war against Hizbullah.
With a quarter of our population under attack, our cities and forest in flames and our economy surging toward recession and debt, most Israelis agree that the war we face is a war for our national survival. In that sense, it is not all that different from previous wars.
Yet there is a qualitative difference between the current war and wars of previous generations. In the past, our enemies were states. They wished to conquer Israel and take our land for themselves. Today our enemies do not wish to conquer Israel. They wish to destroy Israel as a stepping stone on their path toward global domination.
An Israeli victory or defeat in the current war will influence not only Israel's future. It will influence the future of the free world as a whole. If Israel is defeated, if we do not fight to victory over Hizbullah, the march of jihad will move forward with unprecedented force.
Not surprisingly, Olmert hesitates as he faces this challenge. His nation tells him to choose victory. His instincts tell him to seek the path of least resistance.
If Olmert allows the IDF to fight, if he orders the implementation of the security cabinet's decision to widen the ground offensive to the Litani River and so enable us to vanquish Hizbullah, we will be able to change the face of the region and of the world as a whole.
A clear Israeli victory against Hizbullah that destroys Hizbullah as a fighting force would enable leaders like Bush and Blair to defend their decision to wage war against jihad. Quite simply, an Israeli victory will help them inspire their nations to believe that they can win this war as well.
SINCE HIS ascension to power last year, Ahmadinejad has been on one long winning streak. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's success in convincing Bush to open direct negotiations with Teheran regarding its nuclear weapons program was a huge victory for Ahmadinejad. And nothing breeds success like success. Because he has yet to fail, the Iranian leader enjoys an aura of invincibility that deters other leaders from challenging his power. An Israeli victory against the Iranian military's advance guard would shatter that aura and facilitate a much more robust Anglo-American stand against Teheran and its client Syria.
As well, events in Iraq will be critically influenced by how Israel comes out of this war. On the one hand, an Israeli defeat is liable to foment a violent Shi'ite revolt led by Hassan Nasrallah's underling Muqtada al Sadr and his terror squads. On the other hand, an Israeli victory will galvanize the moderate Shi'ite forces in Iraq that are working to stabilize their country.
Finally, an Israeli victory will put paid the fiction which claims that Israel is a strategic liability for to West. The forces who call for Israel's abandonment and a US "engagement" of the Syrians and Iranians will be exposed as fools.
But the option of defeat has an allure of its own. Defeat, or as Olmert might put it, "bowing to international pressure" has the advantage of being the path of least resistance. Unfortunately for Israel, if Olmert surrenders to his nature and opts for capitulation, the result will be catastrophic.
If, as Rice, Shimon Peres and Olmert himself recommend, Israel holds its fire and
waits for a multinational force to deploy along the border, Israel will lose its right to self-defense. The laws of political gravity dictate that a relinquishment of the right to self defense is tantamount to a surrender of sovereignty. If Olmert decides that he would rather have foreigners patrol our borders than the IDF, his message to the world will be clear: As far as he is concerned, Israel does not value its liberty because it is unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices to defend it. If Olmert truly wants for foreign forces to be stationed in south Lebanon, he can do us all a favor and agree to Hizbullah's demand to keep UNIFIL in place. At least UNIFIL, for all its fecklessness, is more or less harmless. It is not empowered to limit Israel's right to defend itself.
If Olmert decides to surrender to outside pressures, he will be serving the interests of the forces in Washington who claim that Israel is not worthy of America's support. An Israel that is unwilling to contend with Hizbullah is an Israel that cannot be trusted as an ally. That is, if he goes along with Rice and her colleagues at the UN and agrees not to fight to win, Olmert will be paving the way for the defeat of pro-Israel forces in US policymaking circles and politics.
The fact of the matter is that those who push for Israel's abandonment are the same people who push for a US-British retreat from Iraq and an end to their war against radical Islam. If Israel capitulates and so strengthens the powers who oppose it in the US and throughout the West, it will similarly contribute to the political defeat of the political forces that call for the jihad to be defeated. So in a very profound sense, as goes Kiryat Shmona, so go Washington and London.
TODAY ISRAEL is gripped by dread. There is not a household in the country that is not directly impacted by this war. All of us have family and friends in the North and in the IDF. All of us are concerned about the future of our country.
It would be nice to think that there is some shortcut that we could take to secure our country and our freedom on the cheap. It is the natural tendency of men like Olmert to look for such a shortcut.
But there are no shortcuts in this war, this existential war that in many respects we brought on ourselves by attempting to disengage from the reality of our surroundings.
At the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Olmert demanded that his ministers behave like grown-ups because "the whole nation is watching us now." This is true. We are watching. And at this time, it is up to our nation to force our leaders to lead us to victory.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.