Jewish World Review July 14, 2006/ 18 Tamuz, 5766

Wesley Pruden

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Looking for trouble, the thugs find it | If you're looking for a fight in a dark and dangerous neighborhood, you can usually find one. If you pick on the wrong man, you deserve the bloody nose, cracked teeth or broken jaw.

The Arabs who torment Israel ought to have learned by now that they're no match for the Jews, who don't really want to fight but are pretty good at it, anyway. Ganging up hasn't shortened the odds, either. The Arab coalition of the zealots and not always courageous was defeated in 1948, again in 1967 and still again in 1973. The Israelis make quick work of the Arab combinations every time, usually without popping a sweat. Not until women and children were recruited to become suicide bombers did the Arab military machine show the world its manliness.

Now the world is on edge again as the war clouds rim the horizon in the Middle East, and this time it's the fruitcakes in Iran who are eager to show their metal, if not necessarily their mettle. The Jews win every time because they understand they have to win every time to survive. The knowledge that your back is at the edge of the cliff, and hungry alligators wait on the rocks below stiffens the resolve even of the reluctant.

Daniel Ayalon, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, offered a warning to Iran in blunt, forceful language yesterday at a session with reporters at the National Press Club: "They are playing with fire, and will bear the consequences." This is not the usual diplo-speak, but a warning in language that thugs and primitives better understand.

Mr. Ayalon, choosing his words carefully, calls the present crisis "a historic, dangerous juncture." The threat, as is clear to anyone brave enough to look the ugly reality square in the face, is the radical Islamification of the Middle East, forced by an Iranian regime that is backward, totalitarian and dictatorial. "All this," the ambassador says, "and nuclear weapons, too."

Most of the rest of the world is, as usual, either trying to make Israel the villain, or trying to sleep. The United Nations Security Council, ever on the scout for ways to equivocate in the face of moral challenge, would have adopted a resolution condemning Israel yesterday but for a veto by the United States. Four other nations, displaying the irresolution that is the courage of cowards, abstained. Israel's neighbors, who have the most to lose if the radicalized "religion of peace" prevails in the Middle East, displayed their usual manliness. Greece called the Israeli response to the kidnapping of its soldiers on Israeli soil, and the continued rocket attacks on Israeli cities, "excessive." (The bad guys are only terrorists, after all, not Turks.)

President Bush, in Germany to pay court to Angela Merkel, quickly said the right thing. Israel has the right to defend itself, and the blame for the escalation of violence is rightly on Hezbollah, the terrorists who crossed the border earlier this week to seize the two soldiers. Even Mrs. Merkel, whose government often employs timidity in the face of challenge, agreed that Israel and its tormentors do not share equal blame. "I think that one needs to be careful to make a distinction between the root causes and the consequences of something." (One certainly do, as the Hon. Fats Domino might say.)

Mr. Bush is concerned, however, that in its determination to protect itself Israel should not destroy the new government in Lebanon, which is distinctly wary of Syria, which has treated Lebanon as its doxy of convenience for a generation. The Israelis shelled Beirut's international airport whence the rockets arrive from Syria, where they are manufactured.

Syria, as well as Iran, is playing the deadly game. Much of the Hamas administration of the Palestinian government, such as it is, has run to hide in Damascus. Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas, preaches now from a Damascus pulpit. Sample: "Tomorrow our nation will sit on the throne of the world. This is not a figment of the imagination, but a fact. Tomorrow we will lead the world, Allah willing. Apologize today, before remorse will do you no good." Pretty big talk for a fat man on the run, but the Israelis understand that even a fat man on the run is dangerous with his finger on a trigger. It's the lesson the rest of the world has not yet learned.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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