Jewish World Review March 21, 2003 / 17 Adar II, 5763

Jerry Della Femina

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What we must do | There's a new baby in our family. My daughter Jodi gave birth to little, and I might add, incredibly beautiful, Annabel Concetta Yae-Un Kim last Thursday. The baby is fine . . . I'm not so sure about the world she has come in to.

Annabel Kim enters a troubled world. When you read this there's a good chance that we'll be at war. Innocent children are the victims of war. War isn't something that happens in another country thousands of miles away anymore. Little Annabel and all children the world over now live in a world where the threat of bombs and bioterrorism hangs over their heads.

As our soldiers march into Iraq there are war protestors marching in our own backyard on the East End. I am in favor of taking out Saddam Hussein. But I'm fully aware that one is not a better American if one is for war at this time. Nor is one a better American if one is against going to war at this time.

Perhaps I can best tell why I am for this war by going back to a column I wrote when the shock and anger of September 11 was fresh in all of our minds. I still stand behind every word wrote.


On a beautiful weather Saturday - the last day of the saddest week in all of our lives -- I sat at 4 p.m. on a beach chair looking out at a sparkling, resplendent ocean in East Hampton.

On the beach, which was unusually crowded for a middle-of-September weekend, little children frolicked in the sand. I hoped they were unaware of their parents' forced smiles of pleasure. I hoped that they were oblivious that their parents were standing closer to them, holding them tighter than they did on any other beach outing in all of their young lives.

I gave up my attempt to numb my mind by reading a good book. Susan Isaacs could not assuage the inner turmoil I felt. The cigar, which I thought was going to taste good, was out after a few meaningless puffs.

I searched for a word that could describe how I, how we all, feel ever since 8:45 last Tuesday morning and I remembered a day many years ago when my wife and I returned to our apartment and discovered we had been robbed. I remembered the feeling of being violated. That's what happened this week -- our world had been violated. Invaders had callously taken the lives of so many sweet, heroic, innocent people. For the past week we have all been glued to our television sets watching one heartbreaking story after another and worrying about our future and the future of our children and grandchildren.

I looked down the beach on Saturday toward Amagansett and it brought back a memory. I went into the house, punched up search "Nazis Long Island" on my computer, and this is what came up:

"As part of 'Operation Pastorius,' a team of four saboteurs were infiltrated into the United States by the submarine U-202 at Amagansett, Long Island on June 13, 1942 and another four landed in Ponte Vedra, Florida on June 16, 1942, all armed with explosives and plans to destroy factories, bridges, tunnels, power plants and waterworks and how to blend into American surroundings. All eight saboteurs were arrested and six were executed in Washington D.C. on August 8, 1942."

We all want payback. I grew up in the '50s with the term "massive retaliation." It was all that we had to discourage our enemies from invading our shores. Now we are in a new era (where, with the exception of Israel, which moves swiftly and decisively with a reflex action to every outrage) when we have "focus group" wars. Like a large corporation contemplating a new venture that won't be put into action until every vice-president signs off, we wait until every country decides to give us their support.

Last Tuesday night we had the support of 99% of the world had we struck at that time. Now the support is less than 75% and it dwindles with every passing day.

"Who do you bomb?" was the question.

I say it's never a mistake to rain bombs on known terrorists like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Hussein has supported terrorism against this country for years and if we didn't have definite proof that Osama bin Laden had been behind the bombing of the Towers, then we could have bombed him in the name of the 17 sailors who had died on the USS Cole, an operation for which he gleefully took credit. Know this about terrorists, they don't take our restraint as a sign that they must cease their war against us. They take our measured response as a sign of our weakness.

This is not meant as criticism of our leaders who need all the support we can give them at this time. This is just an observation of a citizen who is probably living in a bygone era.

I realize there are fewer terrorists in Afghanistan at this time than there are in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. The enemy is here. They came across our borders with forged papers that allowed them the easiest of entry. They took advantage of all of the freedoms we allow our citizens and visitors. Today these killers travel the innocent country with ease. Like us they take out their loose change and keys and put them in a little tray at the airport and walk past the two underpaid, overweight ladies who are discussing their boyfriends instead of looking at the x-ray machine.

They must be stopped.

President Bush has declared we are at war on terrorism and the countries that support them. Mr. President, I respectfully say this is not enough. Yes, we must destroy their leaders. But first and foremost we must drive these terrorists out of this country.

I believe our President should go before Congress and ask them to declare a formal state of war exists against all terrorists and against Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Tajikistan, and any other countries that harbor these bastards.

What would that do? That would do what Roosevelt's declaration of war on December 8, 1941 did to the eight Nazis who invaded our shores in 1942. It made them spies the instant they touched our soil and it enabled us to execute them.

As it now stands, the capture of these suspects means a jail term or expulsion from the country only to have them sneak back under a different name. With a formal declaration of war, they will, in effect, be caught as spies behind enemy lines. We must also make it harder for them to come into the country.

Anyone arriving with a passport from any Arab country must have their photo and fingerprints taken and should be prepared to spend more than a few hours at the airport they arrive in where an FBI office will be established to interview all people entering the country with Arab passports.

Let's check the names. Let's check the fingerprints. Is this racial profiling? Of course it is. But it is profiling that will help save the lives of many Americans, including the lives of the Arab-Americans and Muslim followers living in this country who are law-abiding citizens and must also be protected at all times. Naturally in wartime, the tiny minority of Arab-Americans who co-operate with the terrorists will be tried for treason.

The sneak attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon cost this country billions of dollars. Let's establish a $10 million reward to anyone who comes up with information leading to the capture, conviction, and execution of any terrorist who is planning an attack on our country.

And, last, let us form the Department of Terrorist Control, a special department in this country that is devoted to tracking down and capturing terrorist groups. The best person to take control of this department is, naturally, Rudy Giuliani, who did such a splendid job this past, horrible week. He is brave. He is smart. He is tenacious. And he is an ex-prosecutor who will soon be out of work.

New York's loss can be the whole country's gain.

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JWR contributor Jerry Della Femina was recently named by Advertising Age as one of the 100 Most Influential Advertising People of the Century. He's perhaps the most sought-after advertising expert in the country, there is no network, no publication and no organization on which, in which, or before which Mr. Della Femina has not appeared. He is also the author of two books, From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor (a best-seller), and An Italian Grows in Brooklyn (a non-seller). Comment by clicking here.


03/17/03: Turn your cheek and get another fist in your jaw
02/25/03: In New Yawk, they are finally muzzling celebs
02/06/03: Media empowering terrorism?
01/31/03: Outed at McDonald’s
01/24/03: Fresh ink
01/10/03: Will his political career go up in smoke?
11/07/02: Here's a dirty little secret: Most Italians sort of like the Mafia
10/17/02: Bloomberg for Honorary Italian of the Year

© 2002, Jerry Della Femina