- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Now that Israel has responded to rocket attacks and terrorists’ abduction of its soldiers by making military strikes into areas controlled by those terrorists, much of our media are deploring another “cycle of violence” in the Middle East.

For reasons unknown, some people seem to regard verbal equivalence as moral equivalence — and the latter as some kind of badge of broadmindedness, if not intellectual superiority.

Therefore, when Palestinian terrorists (“militants” in politically correct Newspeak) attack Israel and then Israel responds with military force, that is just another “cycle of violence” in the Middle East to some people. The “cycle” notion suggests each side is just responding to what the other does. But just what had Israel done to set off these latest terrorist acts? It voluntarily pulled out of Gaza, after evacuating its own settlers, and left the land to the Palestinian authorities.

Terrorists used the newly acquired land to launch rockets into Israel and then seized an Israeli soldier. Other terrorists in Lebanon followed suit. The great mantra of the past, “trading land for peace,” is thoroughly discredited, or should be. But facts mean nothing to those determined to find equivalence, whether today in the Middle East or yesterday in the Cold War.

Since all things are the same, except for the differences, and different except for the similarities, nothing is easier than to create verbal parallels and moral equivalence, though some people seem proud of their ability at such verbal tricks.

Centuries ago, Thomas Hobbes said words are wise men’s counters but the money of fools. Regardless of fashionable rhetoric, there is no Middle East “peace process” any more than trading “land for peace” has been a viable option. Nor is a Palestinian “homeland” a key to peace.

During all the years Arab countries controlled the land now proposed for a Palestinian homeland, there was no talk about any such homeland. Only after Israel took control of that territory as a result of the 1967 war was it suddenly sacred as a Palestinian homeland. No concession will bring lasting peace to the Middle East because the terrorists and their supporters will not be satisfied by concessions. The only thing that will satisfy them is the destruction of Israel. Pending that, they will inflict as much destruction and bloodshed on the Israelis as they can get away with at any given time. This brutal reality won’t vanish through verbal sleight of hand.

The terrorists have spoken in words and in deeds, including suicide bombers. They have what Winston Churchill once described in the Nazis as “currents of hatred so intense as to sear the souls of those who swim upon them.”

We saw that on September 11, 2001 — or should have seen it. But many, especially among the intelligentsia, are determined not to see it.

Of all the Western democracies, only two have no choice but to depend on their own military forces for their survival — the United States and Israel. The rest have for more than a half-century had the luxury of depending on American military forces in general and the American nuclear deterrent in particular.

People long sheltered from mortal dangers can indulge themselves in the belief there are no mortal dangers. Nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran or North Korea — and, through them, in the hands of hate-filled terrorists — may be all that will finally wake up such people. But that awakening may come tragically too late.

Those who keep calling for an end to the “cycle of violence” make such violence more likely. “World opinion” in general and the United Nations in particular can always be counted on to counsel “restraint” in response to attacks and “negotiations” in response to lethal threats. That means those who start trouble will pay a lower price than if those they attacked were free to go all out in their counterattack. Lowering the price paid by aggressors virtually guarantees more aggression.

Thomas Sowell is a nationally syndicated columnist.


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