- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Early last month, about a million years ago, the United States and Israel turned their backs on the international community and walked out on a United Nations conference on racism in Durban, South Africa. Remember why? As Secretary of State Colin Powell crisply explained at the time, "You do not combat racism [with a conference] … that singles out only one country in the world Israel for censure and abuse."

Those, of course, were the good old days, back before our nation had to face up to how much 6,000 people, 200 stories, five rings and four airplanes meant to its peace and well-being. In retrospect, washing our hands of Durban's rising bile came naturally enough, an expression of high principle rather than high emotion. As far as the United States was concerned, it was still a war of words not deeds.

No more. Now, in one of those weird twists, we find ourselves seeking common ground with many of the same states that only weeks ago were left in the diplomatic dust. And now, it turns out, those same states, largely members of the Arab and Muslim world, are slandering Israel again, this time not regarding such old saws as racism or colonialism, but on the dire topic of terrorism.

It sounds fantastic. But having left the international coalition wide open to any country "committed" to ending terrorism, the United States has left something else wide open: the definition of terrorism itself. As a result, Arab and Muslim leaders have cranked up a massive disinformation campaign to depict Israel war-weary, terror-targeted Israel as a fountainhead of "terrorism" second only to Osama bin Laden.

First, there is the name-calling. From Mecca's Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia, Islam's most sacred mosque, Sheik Saleh bin Hamid declared his support for an international coalition to fight terrorism citing Israel as "a living example of terrorism in practice." Yasser Arafat, one of the great hoaxes of modern times, briefly displaced his suicide-bombing countrymen in the news this week to "demand" that the nations of the world stop Israeli "terrorism" against his people. Meanwhile, in mostly Muslim Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad offered to support the international coalition against "terrorism" if only the United States and Britain would pick their terrorist targets better: "I would support them," he said, "if they wanted to take action against Israel." Then there is the "debate" about the "meaning" of terrorism. At a recent summit in Qatar, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the world's largest Muslim body, came up with an utterly baseless distinction between blowing up American civilians and blowing up Israeli civilians by condemning the former as "terrorism" and hailing the latter as "national resistance."

The fact is, Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban won't be our sole objective forever. But by an act of government policy, we have chosen to avert our eyes from such crucial links in the Islamist terror network as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad those vaunted "resistance" fighters of the Arab and Muslim world. Do we accept this morally corrupt definition of "terrorism" in order to fight "terrorism"? What principle what purpose is served if it turns out that our objective has been rendered meaningless?

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