Like It or Not, Israel's War With Hamas Is America's, Too

(National Journal/Atlantic) Jonathan Rauch - America's terror war and Israel's are not separable, however much we might wish they were. Last week, while Israeli Prime Minister Sharon was being fricasseed for hitting Yassin, the September 11 commission was grilling Clinton's former secretaries of State and Defense for missing bin Laden. Whatever the tactical differences between the two cases, morally they are indistinguishable. Like al-Qaeda, Hamas is a radical Islamist organization that swears it will not rest until it has brought Muslim territory under Islamic rule. For al-Qaeda, the territory at issue is the whole of the Arab world, plus the Spanish peninsula and other parts of Europe, plus ideally North America; for Hamas, the relevant territory is all of Palestine, meaning all of today's Israel plus the territories. The theaters are different, but the battles - America's against al-Qaeda, Israel's against Hamas - are of a piece. What America is doing against al-Qaeda and what Israel is doing against Hamas are the same kind of thing, and that thing is not "extrajudicial killing" or "terrorism," but war. Wars are won by many means (many of them nonmilitary), but killing the other guy before he kills you is one of them. Is killing a Yassin or a bin Laden "extrajudicial"? Yes, but so is the war against militant Islamism. And our side didn't start it. Hamas and al-Qaeda are organizationally distinct but ideologically joined at the hip. Both are anti-Semitic, anti-Western, and dedicated to extinguishing secular politics in what they regard as Islamic lands. Although Hamas has concentrated on Israeli interests while al-Qaeda concentrated on American ones, even that gap is narrowing.

2004-04-08 00:00:00

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