A deeply troubling U.S. posture

The Washington Post, like President Bush, is “deeply troubled” by Israel’s attempt to kill Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi. It argues that Israel has undermined the “road map” because now Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas “may have to back off” his attempts to cause Hamas to stop attacking Israeli civilians. But this should be troubling only if these attempts had any realistic hope of succeeding. Otherwise, Israel is not undermining anything — it is simply striking back at terrorists in an effort to protect itself.
The Post offers no evidence that Abbas’ approach can succeed. His approach consists of trying to persuade (the Post says “pressure” but it’s not clear what that means in this context) Hamas and other similar groups not to continue the deadly attacks. But Hamas has expressly rebuffed these attempts at persuasion and is continuing to attack. The Post suggests that Sharon rejects Abbas’ strategy in principle, even though President Bush accepts it. The Post goes on to claim that Israel is insisting that Abbas launch a war against Hamas. This is a distortion. Sharon demands only that Abbas’ strategy work. If he could persuade Hamas to abandon terrorism, that would be fine with Sharon. But it is abundantly clear that Abbas cannot do so. Hamas, in the person of Rantisi, has told him “no” and is continuing to commit terrorist acts. In this context, Abbas’ unwillingness to attack Hamas constitutes a breakdown in the road map. For even the Post acknowledges that “a crackdown on terrorism is the road map’s first and most important step.” Abbas manifestly is unable or unwilling to take that first step. Thus, Sharon has the right and the duty to reclaim responsibility for dealing with Hamas.
In the last paragraph, the apologists at the Post inform us that “Mr. Rantisi represents a movement that engages in terrorism, but his specialty is media interviews not suicide bombings.” Yeah, and Osama bin Laden specializes in making video tapes, not personally blowing things up. Rantisi is a high-level Hamas leader and recruiter of suicide bombers, although he has, to be sure, rejected attempts to recruit his son on the theory that the lad is better cut-out to be a doctor. Rantisi is precisely the kind of figure the U.S. targets in its war against terrorism. Indeed, Rantisi would be a pretty good U.S. target. As the Seattle Times has reported, he called on Muslims to engage in suicide bombings against the U.S. in Iraq. The president of the United States should not be deeply troubled by attempts to kill Abdel Aziz Rantisi.

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