The calendar this week contains two of contemporary history’s most somber
anniversaries: September 11 and September 13.
Two dates, two 24-hour
periods ostensibly no different from any other. The sun rises in the morning and
sets in the evening, people go about their daily affairs, and life marches on.
And yet, both of these days are seared into our individual and collective
memories, or at least they should be.
For it was on September 11, 2001,
when al-Qaida attacked New York and Washington, and on September 13, 1993, when
Israel signed the Oslo Accords with the PLO, that the forces of international
terrorism claimed two of their biggest triumphs of the modern era.
despite all the differences between them, both events contain a cardinal lesson
we dare not forget. It is a cold, hard and uncomfortable truth, one that many
would prefer not to grapple with, but which remains a truth nonetheless: there
is evil in the world and we must confront it.
Many of us recall the
morning of 9/11 and the sense of shock that we felt watching the horror unfold
before our eyes live on television. The disarray, the chaos, the feeling that
this was all coming out of left field. Why, many thought, are these people
attacking us all of sudden? But that is only because we have short
After all, the 2001 attack was the second time – not the first
– that Islamic extremists sought to bring down the World Trade Center. On
February 26, 1993, at 12:18 p.m., they set off a truck bomb in the underground
parking garage of the North Tower, killing six people and injuring over a
America pursued legal action against the perpetrators,
capturing them and putting them on trial. But what if the Clinton administration
had taken a more bold approach and launched its own war on terror? What if it
had marshaled the vast resources of the US government at the time to move
against the growing threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism? Might that not have
prevented subsequent tragedies from ever occurring? Five years later, on August
7, 1998, al-Qaida attacked the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing
hundreds of people with truck bombs. Clinton responded by firing a few cruise
missiles at targets in Sudan and Afghanistan, but did little else. Osama bin
Laden and al-Qaida once again lived to fight another day, and on 9/11 we all saw
just how myopic and lethal that decision proved to be.
innocents lost their lives, and our way of life was changed forever, simply
because Washington lacked the will to tackle the cancer before it
And the same holds true for Israel’s capitulation to
Palestinian terror, when prime minister Yitzhak Rabin shook the bloody hand of
Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn in 1993.
Instead of treating Arafat
as the lowly thug that he was, Israel chose to elevate him to the status of
lofty statesman, allowing him to create a corrupt and authoritarian entity
alongside the Jewish state. Not surprisingly, Arafat and his heirs continued to
wage war against Israel, unleashing the greatest wave of terror ever seen in
this part of the world. More than 1,000 Israelis were murdered by terrorists in
the three years after the signing of Oslo, which was almost twice the number
killed in the 25 years that preceded the agreement.
And now we find
ourselves with a Hamas-run regime in Gaza, rockets occasionally raining down on
Israeli cities, and a decrepit and ineffective Palestinian regime in Ramallah
that is threatening to declare unilateral independence. Oslo was a classic case
of self-deception, one in which Israeli leaders chose to appease the enemy in
the vain hope that yesterday’s serial killer would become tomorrow’s friendly
If Israel had done what was necessary, arresting or killing
Arafat for his crimes, rather than allowing him to win a Nobel Prize, who knows
how many innocent lives would have been saved? By choosing to accommodate terror
rather than eradicate it, the government made a grave and deadly
The lesson, then, of this week’s two anniversaries should be
apparent. 9/11 and 9/13 should remind us all that as dangerous as it might be to
confront a ruthless enemy, failure to do so is even more perilous.
and appeasement may buy a few years of quiet. But in the end, the price of
refusing to respond forcefully to terror is, inevitably, still more terror, and
on a much larger scale.
The events of 9/11 and 9/13 might never have come
to pass had our leadership had the mettle and foresight to recognize this simple
We must never forget that evil exists and cannot be negotiated
away. There are times when a nation or a civilization comes under assault, and
it must arm itself with the courage to fight back.
Good will triumph in
the end, but only if it is alert to the dangers it faces and responds