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Jonathan Power: Palestine and the War of Civilizations

Just what Barack Obama needs as he prepares to be the forty-fourth president of the United States: another Israeli/Palestinian war re-inflaming passions all over the Arab and Muslim world. Will that middle name of his count for something in this intense firefight?

Well, possibly—but only if he moves fast to change the long-time American emphasis on supporting, by both word and deed, the Israeli side at the Palestinian’s expense. It is as simple—and as complicated—as that. After the Bush years, during which the “clash of civilizations” became the de facto interpretation of American, and to some extent European, policy in the region, the West quickly needs to de-escalate its fixation with what it often interprets as the rabid policies of the Islamic world. The focus instead should be on restoring a sense of humility in dealing with the world-wide Muslim civilization, albeit one with its share of bad apples.

Comparison, even in the time of Al Qaeda, does not work in Christendom's favor. The West should not overlook its near-takeover by the Nazis, whose attempt to eliminate the Jews was launched from a country that was in many ways the fulcrum of modern Christianity. It would be a mistake to forget the inroads that atheistic Marxism made in Europe; or the everyday crime rates in Western nations that far, far exceed those in Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East.

Joshua Miller: Capitulation to Terror is Shortsighted

Joshua MillerAt an international boundary between two countries that do not have diplomatic relations, recently fought a war and have a bitter history of violence, one might expect to find fortified gun emplacements, concertina wire, and the deep diesel rumble of idling tanks. But the Rosh Hanikra border crossing that sits at the juncture of Israel, Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea is an exquisite, peaceful corner of the Middle East. Set atop chalk cliffs overlooking the sea, and situated next to a vast array of grottoes formed by millennia of water lapping at the rocks, Rosh Hanikra (Hebrew for head of the grottoes) is a national park, a popular tourist attraction, and is even occasionally a location chosen by Israeli couples for their weddings. Sitting at the local restaurant, looking out at the Mediterranean, it’s almost possible to forget that one is at a military site.The border crossing between Israel and Lebanon. A line of buoys in the sea, marking the official border between Israel and Lebanon, stretches out from the shoreline to the horizon. In the distance, one can often see Israel Defense Forces (IDF) naval gunships assiduously patrolling the demarcation line. But in the early morning hours of April 22, 1979, there was only one ship moving along this coast, a small rubber skiff that had left from Tyre, Lebanon and was headed for Nahariya—an Israeli city of 50,000 people four miles south of Rosh Hanikra. After pulling the boat up on the beach in Nahariya, its four occupants, PLO terrorists led my a young man named Samir Kuntar, killed a policeman who had come upon them. They entered a nearby apartment building, waking a young Israeli couple, Danny and Smadar Haran, and their two children. Hearing gunshots, Danny helped Smadar and their two-year-old daughter, Yael, into a crawlspace in their bedroom. He was headed for the door with their other daughter, four-year-old Einat, when the terrorists burst into the Haran’s apartment. Suspecting there were more than two people in the apartment, the terrorists spent a few minutes searching for the other occupants. Trying to keep her two-year-old from making a noise and giving away their position, Smadar kept her hand over her daughter’s mouth, accidentally suffocating her to death. In a Washington Post op-ed, Smadar described what happened next:
“…the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.”
Last week, on June 29, the Israeli cabinet, led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, agreed to release Samir Kuntar (who is currently serving four consecutive life sentences in an Israeli prison), four other Lebanese nationals, and the remains of Hezbollah fighters killed in the 2006 Lebanon War in return for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Ehud “Udi” Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. For Israel, this was a decision with far-reaching implications. Capitulation to terrorist demands has dire consequences.

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