- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 22, 2006

The most recent battles in the Global War on Terror — on the northern and southern borders of Israel — have provoked politicians and pundits to make some very strange comments:

“As a sovereign nation Israel has every right to defend itself from terrorist activities,” said President Bush. “I fully support Israel’s right to defend itself,” said Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat. “Israel must defend itself , and it had the right to do so,” said French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

On its face, each statement appears supportive of Israeli military action after terrorist attacks across Israel’s borders by Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north. Unfortunately, these expressions of “approval” miss the point — and invite an irrelevant debate. Every sovereign state, by any definition, has the “inherent right of self-defense.” Even raising the issue concedes there may be a question about Israel’s “right to exist” — the principal argument made by the Jewish nation’s opponents since it came into being in May 16, 1948.

Worse, nearly all of these preambles are followed by judgments about the nature of the Israeli response to attacks across internationally recognized borders perpetrated by groups nearly universally accepted at terrorist organizations.

Mr. Bush concluded his “self-defense” comments with the rather strange admonition: “Our message to Israel is to defend itself but to be careful about the consequences.”

Paris, apparently chagrined that Israel would have the temerity to hold a war that competes with coverage of the Tour de France, was of two minds about the conflict. French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin insisted on an “immediate cease-fire” while Interior Minister Sarkozy, urged, “As friends of Israel we must advise it to maintain level-headedness and restraint.”

The “cease-fire” theme was quickly adopted by Kofi Annan at the United Nations and within the European Union. Javier Solana, the globe-trotting, promise-them-anything, EU foreign policy representative, rushed to Jerusalem to have his photo taken urging that the Israelis “stop combat operations immediately to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Lebanon.”

As expected, the so-called mainstream media jumped on the “bash-Israel-now” bandwagon. Photos and videotape of Lebanese killed and wounded dominate the coverage — rather than explanations about Israel’s attempts to break Hezbollah supply lines through Syria. A New York Times headline challenged: “With Israeli use of force, debate over proportion.” In the same edition, the “Newspaper of Record” included an “interactive feature” titled, “A question of proportion,” and invited reader input as to whether the Israeli Defense Forces had gone “too far.”

Now, the Euro-elites and many in the U.S. media — the very ones most critical of American military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq — urge that the U.S. intervene to “force” the Israelis to cease their efforts to eliminate Hamas and Hezbollah as threats. Critics of U.S. policy in Washington, New York and Paris are call on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to commence a round of “shuttle diplomacy” to “stop the killing.”

Absent from all this is any sense of reality. Here are a few perspectives on the current conflict you won’t get from the so-called mainstream media:

• Israel is fighting for survival against a regime that has sworn to wipe the Jewish state “off the map” — the Islamic Republic of Iran. While racing to build nuclear weapons, the Iranians are supplying money, rockets, missiles, weapons, training and technology to their Hezbollah proxies.

• Since the 1980s — when I was dispatched to Beirut and Tehran to seek the release of American hostages held in Lebanon — the U.S. government has known for certain Hezbollah is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Iranian Intelligence Service, VEVAK, and that the organization has killed hundreds of Americans.

• There is no way any U.S. secretary of state should ever sit down to discuss anything with Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah, or Mohammed Deif, the leader of Hamas wounded in an air strike this week. Thus, “shuttle diplomacy” is worthless.

The best way we can help end the current Mideast conflict isn’t to “pressure Israel” but to help break Hezbollah — an entity that cannot exist without direction and support from Iran. The key to Hezbollah is Tehran — and the key to Tehran is, strangely enough, Pyongyang.

Tehran was stunned by last week’s U.N. Security Council Resolution condemning North Korea’s missile launches. Rather than try to compel Israel to cease military action against Hezbollah, we should pressure our Western “allies” into a similarly strong-worded, enforceable resolution aimed at Tehran. We should start by seizing all Iranian assets now “frozen” in the United States, distributing the proceeds of their sale to victims of Iranian terror — and urging the Europeans to follow suit.

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Freedom Alliance, a foundation that provides college scholarships to the dependents of members of the U.S. Armed Forces killed in action.

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