Patience is a virtue, and is also usually wise counsel. But patience cannot be endless. Israel -- after the Untied Nations declared it a nation in 1947 -- has been under attack more or less continuously by its Arab neighbors and their proxies, the Palestinians. Arafat's "intifada," now three years old, has taken so many lives that the Israelis have lost patience, and will not listen to those who counsel it. Good for them.
On Saturday, another homicide bomber took the lives of nineteen innocents sitting in a Haifa restaurant. Among them was a man I was looking forward to meeting on my coming trip to Israel. Retired Adm. Ze'ev Almog, who was a friend of and well known to our special operators, was killed with his wife, Ruti, their son, Moshe, 43, and their grandson Tomer, 9. They all were killed by a Palestinian woman who shot a security guard, entered the Maxim restaurant, and detonated her bomb. According to Al-Jazeera (all-jihad all the time), the bomber's brother -- a youth of 15 named Thahir -- wasn't sorry to lose his sister. He said, "Why should we cry? It's like her wedding today, the happiest day for her."
In response, the Israeli Air Force bombed the Ein Saheb terrorist camp about thirty miles from the Syrian capital of Damascus. It was the first Israeli strike into Syria in at least twenty years. This time, the Israelis didn't notify us of the strike before it was made. The Israeli mood changed in August with the Jerusalem bus bombing. The bonds that have for years enabled us to restrain the Israeli responses to terror homicides are broken, and the Israelis will -- and should -- do what needs to be done. That means taking the war to the nations that sponsor, train and fund terrorism against them, and against us. And that is a very good thing.
The Syrians ran to the terrorists' nannies -- the Arab League and the U.N. Security Council -- to get condemnations of the Israeli action. The Arab League complied, sending Egypt's Hosni Mubarak out to describe the raid on Ein Saheb as "aggression against a brother nation." The U.N. on Sunday began discussions of a resolution to condemn Israel and demand that it stop its actions against the terrorist states. Gerhard Schroeder (co-founder with Chirac of the Axis of Weasels) jumped up to say that the Israeli raid "cannot be accepted." According to an MSNBC report, France called the Israeli raid an "unacceptable violation" of both international law and rules of sovereignty. (Schroeder and Chirac are so contemptible they should be on the Internet or in Hollywood raising money for Howard Dean.)
As Israeli actions against terrorism take place in Syria and soon in other countries, the U.N. will go full-bore to censor, sanction and otherwise drive Israel out of the community of nations. We cannot sit idly by while this goes on. And it appears we will not.
Though the usual calls for "restraint" were gurgled by the State Department, U.S. ambassador John Negroponte got it right. He said, "The United States believes that Syria is on the wrong of the side of the war on terrorism." Though he counsels calm, Negroponte -- who chooses words carefully -- painted a big red bull's eye on Bashar Assad's forehead. The Israelis should widen their attacks on the terrorist offices, bases and camps in Syria. If anyone objects, they should take it up with us.
By doing that, we can regain the lost momentum in the fight against terrorism. The reason the Israelis are going off the reservation is the perception that we have expanded the fight beyond our capability. The U.N. and the Axis of Weasels are all too anxious to see us fail in Iraq, and while we are occupied there -- and the President under attack and facing a tough campaign -- our political adversaries and our blood enemies both see us as weaker than we are. It is a dangerous time for us, and one at which the counsel of caution and patience may be very unwise.
The President knows that for every terrorist camp the Israelis bomb, it's one less we have to deal with. He may, outwardly, have to counsel caution and restraint. But in the back-channel conversations he will surely have with Ariel Sharon, he should urge firmness, and assure Sharon of America's withdrawal from the "peace process" for some period of time. We have had a decade of process, and damned little peace. We should promise the Israelis -- and make it known publicly -- that we will veto any U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel for attacks such as the one on Syria.
But Syria is small potatoes. Israel has two much bigger problems, and we should be involved in solving both. First in Iran -- specifically in Natanz and wherever else the Iranian nuclear problem is metastasizing -- Israeli action may yet be aimed. In simplest terms, the Iran problem is as much ours as theirs. The Iranians are playing the Saddam shuffle, and stalling to get time to hide their program and to finish it before we can stop them. We should tell the Israelis that if they want to strike the Iranians, fine. But if they want to do it right -- which means B-2s and MOABs -- it will be when we say, and not necessarily when they do. We need to make the secret commitment to them that if the intelligence says the situation is ripening, we won't wait for the U.N. or anyone else. We'll run the strike on Iran.
The second problem is the one Israel has had since the 1960s. Yassir Arafat has to go. His Palestinian Authority is a spider web of terrorists, and its promises under the Oslo Accords have never been performed. (A group of Israelis have produced a documentary film on this titled, Relentless. More about the film in another column). It is highly unlikely that the Israelis can capture Arafat alive and exile him. We should let them know that if Arafat is killed in a capture attempt, we will not shed any tears. If Arafat is taken alive, let him be exiled to Paris. He and the French deserve each other.