Jewish World Review April 15, 2003 / 13 Nissan, 5763

David D. Perlmutter

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'Palestinians' are to blame for Fedayeen Saddam | Using women and children as human shields and shooting them if they try to escape the fighting; positioning strong points, ammo dumps and gun emplacements inside or on hospitals and temples of worship; booby-trapping homes and schools; faking surrenders; murdering POWs; and now homicide bombings. These are tactics that American and British troops still face -- and inevitably will continue to die of -- in the sands and among the mud bricks of Iraq. The culprits, in the main, are the "Fedayeen Saddam" a fanatical paramilitary group, comprised partly of foreigners and who seem to be the last holdouts fighting for the old regime.

To longtime observers of the paramilitaries of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip such tactics are depressingly familiar.

Welcome to Palestine-on-the-Euphrates, Sgt. Stryker.

America's most famous fictional warrior was played by John Wayne in the classic combat film, the Sands of Iwo Jima. The title comes from the island of the same name that witnessed one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific theatre of World War II and the iconic flag-raising on Mount Suribachi.

The real life Sgt. Stryker's of World War II faced a determied, often suicidal enemy in the Japanese soldier. But even tough-guy Sgt. Stryker and his counterpart Sgt. Takimoto would be shocked, as are today's Coalition forces and many of the embedded reporters, at the kind of abuses of the codes of war they meet. As one British soldier described of the fedayeen of Basra to The Scotsman newspaper, "They [the militia] were crossing the road to try and outflank us on the left and as they crossed, four or five of them grabbed kids by the scruff of their necks and dragged them across with them? They were using them as human shields so that I had to stop firing."

A horror, yes, but I wonder if Sgt. Shlomo of the Israeli army is thinking, "Welcome to the Middle East." After all, when Israeli troops faced the same devilry, they were condemned by the world and lectured to show "restraint." Even now the U.S. State Department condemns "targeted killings" of Palestinian terrorist leaders. In addition, the press corps of Europe--including that of England--seemed to take special delight in taunting that the Israeli troops battling fedayeen in Jenin or Ramalla were acting like Nazis.

Perhaps now the embedded foreign journalists might apprise that Israeli army urban battle techniques are and always have been the same as NATO and American. Indeed, it was recently revealed that U.S. troops took training from Israeli veterans in street fighting techniques--again, all the while our government was condemning those same tactics.

Such a retraction is unlikely. For years Israel faced an enemy that intentionally tried to ratchet up the body count of its people, whether as battle tactics or to win world sympathy. After all, as Yasser Arafat put it so lyrically and brutally, to him the Palestinians are nothing but "millions of martyrs marching to Jerusalem." Yet, such world sympathy is exactly why Americans and British service men and women are dying in ambushes and car bombings. For 50 years the world green-lighted Palestinian war crimes; now we are facing their heirs and copycats in Iraq.

To defeat the fedayeen's present incarnation, we have to admit our role in allowing them to prosper.

When the Jewish state was attacked by Palestinian fedayeen in the 1950s, the world excused them. Then that terrorism was unleashed on the world in the 1960s. The response: more sympathy and cash for the perpetrators. Likewise, in the 1970s terrorists attacked Israel, massacring civilians, from bases in Lebanon. Israel struck back, driving north, which, surprise, brought swift condemnation by the world (including the United States). And a suicide attack against an American marine barracks killing more Americans than have been so far in the Iraq war. And so on until 9/11.

Now America is attacking terrorist bases half a world away, and Centcom and the CIA targets for death-from-above Iraqi as well as Taliban and Al Quaeda leaders. And we are beginning to understand that what we surrender to in Palestinian tactics, eventually comes back to kill us. This was confirmed in the last few days when the Palestinian Authority decided to name the center of Jenin after a homicide bomber, Ali Alna'amani, who killed 4 American soldiers in Iraq. Also Iraqis and the U.S. military report most of the Fedayeen Saddam are Palestinians, Egyptians and Jordanians.

More damning, MSNBC Special Foreign Correspondent Bob Arnot observed that hundreds of homicide bomber vests found at an Iraqi school were identical in design to the Palestinian models.

It's a simple lesson, but one that escapes so many world leaders. Terror rewarded and unpunished in one place begets terrorism everywhere else. Palestinian terrorists got away with mass murder and now the same kind of murderers are ambushing Coalition soldiers.

And, of course, the U.N. and world leaders are demanding that Coalition forces show "restraint."

Sgt. Stryker is finding out what Sgt. Shlomo always knew, and the price is yet more hero's blood in the sand.

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JWR contributor David Perlmutter is an associate professor of mass communication at Louisiana State University and a senior fellow at the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs. He is the author of, among others, Visions of War : Picturing Warfare from the Stone Age to the Cyber Age. Comment by clicking here.


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02/13/03: Don't warn me, again
01/23/03: 'Palestine' for Dummies
11/05/02: Decision '02 may well be finalized on Dec. 7
08/29/02: Should Israel go Nazi?
07/29/02: Thou shalt judge our Jewish leaders
07/11/02: The Lie of the Land
05/30/02: What did you do while Israel was destroyed?
05/21/02: George Lucas has gotta go!
04/18/02: To jump-starting the market, the animals need to be re-trained

© 2002, David Perlmutter