European Affairs

Letter to the Editor: European Criticism of U.S. Support for Israel is Unfounded     Print Email

Although Rupert Cornwell addresses several issues at the core of the disagreement between the United States and its European allies regarding the Israeli-Palestinian con§ict, any such assessment would benefit from a closer assessment of the validity of Europe's concerns pertaining to U.S.-Israeli policies. Such an assessment demonstrates that European criticisms of American support for Israel's war on terrorism cannot be defended either on intellectual or on moral grounds.

Europeans who suggest that Israel be effectively stripped of a right not denied to any other state - namely the right to defend itself and its citizens from any hostile attack - are unaware of the nature of the forces that Israel is forced to deal with. Pure evil must be recognized for what it is, and the deliberate murder of civilians, in the furtherance of any political agenda, is evil and must never be tolerated.

No matter how much intellectualizing the Israeli-Palestinian con§ict is subjected to, the fact remains that there exist dangerous forces, bitterly opposed to the very existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East, that will continue to commit acts of terrorism against innocent Israeli civilians until such time as the leadership of the Palestinian people takes a clear stand against the practice.

Israeli anti-terrorist policies, just like those pursued by the United States in the aftermath of September 11, and those pursued by European states when they face dangerous forces that cannot be bought off, re§ect a pragmatic - and not simplistic - approach toward the new and dangerous threats faced by the civilized world today. Those Europeans who support the global war on terrorism should be supporting the right of the Middle East's sole democracy to combat terrorism.

Those who claim that terrorism suffered by Israelis is in-herently different from terrorism suffered by Americans at the hands of al Qaeda should recognize that terrorism is best defined according to its barbaric means, regardless of any claimed "legitimacy." President Bush has laid before the Palestinians a vision for a future Palestinian state supported by the United States contingent upon a complete rejection of the use of violence and terror in pursuit of their political objectives.

Cornwell's linking, on the one hand, of the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and discussion of a strike against Iraq with, on the other, a fading European sympathy for the United States is particularly disturbing. The legitimacy of America's war on terrorism in the light of the deaths of 3,000 innocent Americans and other nationals on September 11 stands on its own merits. The treatment of unlawful combatants detained at Guantanamo Bay has been humane, and there is no evidence that the most basic human rights of these dangerous individuals have been denied them.

It is inconceivable that such an issue could possibly place the moral legitimacy of the war on terrorism in question. Moreover, Saddam Hussein's aggressive totalitarian regime will eventually have to be confronted, as both the United States and Europe share a need in ending his program of developing weapons of mass destruction.

Benjamin A. Gilman (R - New York)
U.S. House of Representatives Member, House Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Europe
Washington, DC


This article was published in European Affairs: Volume number III, Issue number III in the Summer of 2002.

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