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Negotiations Alone Never Brought Peace

By Ed Koch

Israel's response to Hezbollah has demonstrated to the enemies of the Jewish state that Israel will stand up and fight. This is in marked contrast to Spain, France and Germany under Schroeder, who have blinked and withdrawn responding to Islamic terror or threatened terror. Thankfully, our country's leaders appreciate that we are at war with international terrorism. The West confronts a war of civilizations that is not for the fainthearted.

There are those who believe that negotiations without the will to engage in military action will suffice. They are wrong. For 58 years, Israel has tried both negotiations and self-defense by its armed forces. The work of its armed forces has given it considerable security vis-à-vis those states and terrorists who seek to destroy it. Negotiations alone never brought peace.

Negotiating after defending oneself -- as Israel did with Egypt and Jordan, with which it now has peace treaties -- is far more successful and preferable to blinking, hesitation and faintheartedness.

Israel has been compelled to engage in five previous wars in which Arab nations have sought to destroy the Jewish state. Israel prevailed in those wars. It has been involved in two wars against terrorists in Lebanon, one in 1982 and the other which is now underway. It won the 1982 war against the Palestinians led by Yasser Arafat, forcing the PLO to flee Lebanon by ship to find sanctuary in Tunisia. Israel held a buffer zone in southern Lebanon for 18 years. Israel left Lebanon in 2000. Hezbollah falsely proclaimed it was the victor responsible for Israel's decision to leave Lebanon. This is as ludicrous as Hamas claiming it drove Israel out of Gaza. The United Nations Security Council certified that Israel had vacated all of Lebanon and in 2004, adopted Resolution 1559 which called for the demilitarization of Hezbollah, now represented in both the Lebanese parliament and the president's cabinet. UN Resolution 1559 called for the Lebanese Army to take over control of the Lebanese territory and its southern border with Israel.

Hezbollah, with the financial and material assistance of both Syria and Iran rebuilt southern Lebanon into a Hezbollah redoubt with an arsenal of an estimated 13,000 rockets with the ability to reach Israeli cities like Haifa. On July 12th the day after the G-8 nations demanded that Iran stop enriching uranium, Hezbollah invaded Israel, killing 8 Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two soldiers from Israeli territory. Since then, Israel has inflicted ten times the casualties it has suffered. Hezbollah continues to fire missiles into northern Israel, including into Haifa, forcing a million Israelis into underground bunkers.

Israel's critics characterize its response as disproportionate. Hezbollah's continuing its missiles barrage on Israel convinces me that Israel's response should be even tougher, and should only end when Hezbollah returns the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers, ends its missile bombardment and yields to the Lebanese army which by right should patrol southern Lebanon and its border with Israel.

According to The New York Times on July 25, 2006, "Jan Egeland, who is in charge of humanitarian affairs for the United Nations...accused Hezbollah of 'cowardly blending' among women and children...'I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this...I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men.'"

The New York Times recently quoted Israeli leaders, some anonymously and others by name, on why those leaders have concluded that their Arab neighbors -- terrorists and governments -- can no longer be allowed to believe that Israel will sit back in the face of mounting terrorist acts perpetrated against it and rely on the logic of negotiations which includes the "road map" and declining to respond to suicide bombers sent into Israel and missiles hurled at its cities. On July 23rd, The Times reported, "Israel wants 'to change the calculus for any future kidnapper,' showing that it will respond in force and that the Israeli population is willing to suffer pain and casualties, undermining the theory of Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, that Israeli society is 'like a spider's web,' soft and easily broken. Hezbollah will not surrender, the officer said. 'They won't come out with a white flag. But at the end they should be beaten and be seen to be beaten. It won't be a knockout, but what matters is how big the decision is on points.' Israel needs to 'restore our military deterrence against terror organizations, whether Hamas or Hezbollah,' the officer added, 'and this goal is already achieved.' Israel must show again that 'Israeli soldiers on the ground can defeat any enemy,' the officer said, pointing to Gaza, where Israel has killed about 100 Palestinian fighters since June 25 and lost only one soldier, who was killed by another Israeli by error.' General Halutz, the chief of staff, put it this way: 'The restraint which we showed over the course of years is interpreted by those among the terrorists as weakness.'"

There are those who wishfully conclude that if Israel turns the other cheek and does not respond with armed force to attacks upon it, that such restraint will pay off with an ultimate peace treaty with its neighbors. That is ridiculous. I agree with those who believe that standing up to terrorism and never blinking is the only way to win that war. Remember that it is a war against Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and all Western civilization. It is a war being waged against Europe, Russia, India, Iraq, the U.S. and elsewhere. It is a war we must win.

Ed Koch is the former Mayor of New York City.

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