Killing terror leaders apparently a privilege reserved for superpowers like America
by Rafi Israeli
When President Obama, a reserved family man, announced his intention to convene a late-night press conference, everyone held their breath. Some people attributed his quick action to his rush to salvage his sinking prestige ahead of the upcoming presidential elections; others spoke of his great sensitivity and incredible humanism in informing relatives of 9/11 victims without delay that the monster had been nabbed and hurled into the sea, in order to prevent a gravesite that would have drawn zealous Islamic pilgrims.
As the United States and its allies celebrated the superb operational and intelligence achievement, which took years to plan and execute, the sense of satisfaction was doubly great as the arch-terrorist who became a martyr (after educating an entire generation to do so before him) swore to undermine the West, fight the Jews (not the Israelis or Zionists) and bring a new Holocaust upon them.
Indeed, bin Laden and his people were overjoyed by the large number of Jews hurt at the World Trade Center. Had Obama truly been sensitive, he could have at least expressed empathy to the Israeli people, which was marking Holocaust Remembrance Day at the time, in his dramatic announcement.
He didn’t do it because he’s preoccupied with the struggle against global Islamic terror, just like Roosevelt was preoccupied with World War II and did not bother dedicating any effort or attention to assisting the Jews murdered in the camps, even when he could do so. Obama was bothered because we were dealing not with Afghanistan, but rather, with its neighbor Pakistan – the so-called US ally that provides a base and vitality to the Taliban and also a shelter for al-Qaeda.
A wanted man like bin Laden could not have been hiding in Pakistan, in a suburb of the capital Islamabad no less, without the reputed and sly Pakistani intelligence service – which was supposed to be cooperating with America - knowing about it. Hence, the US operation did not involve Pakistani extradition, which America’s weak president couldn’t handle, yet despite his weakness the op required a bold American commando effort that deserves much praise.
Israel should stop apologizing
Israel can draw several lessons here: In order to kill enemy leaders while the world says nothing or lauds the killing, one needs to be a great power. We were condemned when we eliminated Hamas’ Ahmad Yassin and the Iraqi reactor, and we were warned not to assassinate Arafat.
The Americans assassinated bin Laden, tried to kill Hitler, and also hunted and eliminated Saddam Hussein, yet nobody said a word. For every targeted elimination carried out by Israel, we were hit with numerous condemnations and protests, yet the daily US surgical strikes in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan Libya and Iraq are met with silence. Every time we unintentionally harm civilians, the world raises a hue and cry, yet if it happens in Libya, Iraq, Serbia or Kosovo nobody protests.
A second lesson: When we are accused, smeared and slandered, we should dare to complain, openly compare our actions with those of others fighting terror, and initiate debates in the UN general assembly, Security Council, and Human Rights Council, even if we don’t achieve immediately success. If we bombard them with our arguments and present evidence to all, ultimately something will be grasped by global public opinion, where we are used to retreat, apologize and defend ourselves.
The weak and apologizing will always lose its pride and credibility, as opposed to the cheeky nobleman who constantly blames others, just like the mad Arab rulers which the world rushes to appease, until theyrise up against the West as well, and only then the world turns on them: See the case of Gaddafi, Assad and their comrades.
Rafi Israeli is a professor of Islam and the Middle East at Hebrew University, Jerusalem