When Tony Snow stood up to Hizbullah

In his pre-White House spokesman days, Snow would put Israeli terror victims on his radio show.

tony snow 88 (photo credit: )
tony snow 88
(photo credit: )
In a tragic coincidence, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were buried the same week as former White House spokesman Tony Snow. In his 17 months as President George W. Bush's press secretary, one of Snow's most memorable moments occurred during the Second Lebanon War two summers ago, when Regev and Goldwasser were taken, two years before Snow succumbed to cancer at 53. Helen Thomas, a reporter of Lebanese decent and the dean of White House correspondents, was questioning Snow on July 18 - actually giving a speech loosely disguised as a question - demanding that Bush halt Israel's invasion of Lebanon. Snow affably thanked Thomas for presenting "the Hizbullah view" of American policy. On August 2, Snow was again asked by reporters about the war in which Hizbullah rained more than 4,000 missiles on Israel - but much of the world was pushing Israel to stop defending her citizens. Reporter's question: "You've said that Israel has a right to defend herself and -" Tony Snow's answer: "And Israel will have a right to defend herself. And furthermore, if - well, let me ask you this. The question is, somebody fires - somebody goes across your border, kidnaps some of your citizens, kills some of them and begins firing rockets. Do you have a right to defend yourself? By international law, you certainly do. "What we're hoping for - and I think what you've done is you're putting all the focus on the Israelis rather than on the people who started this, and continue to provide the impetus for the violence, and that is Hizbullah. Hizbullah, and also its supporting nations, Iran and Syria, need to understand that we are committed to peace and democracy in the region, and we're not going to back away from it." TONY WAS my friend, and one of my heroes. I got to know him best when he was a writer at Gannett/USA Today. By coincidence, my office was in the same building as his, and we often parked next to one another. We would walk in together, talking politics. Tony and I saw many things differently. But we shared a commitment to supporting America's ally, Israel, in its fight against terrorism. We shared a deep respect for Israel as a democracy in the Middle East. Tony's smile was like the eyes of the Mona Lisa - no matter from what direction I looked at him, and no matter how serious the topic, it always seemed as though he was smiling at me and others. He had what I called "a voice for radio and a face for TV." I think he remained a print writer as long as he did because he loved words. Eventually, enough people prodded Tony to leave writing behind and go into the electronic media. He became a star on Fox TV and with his own talk radio show. He knew much more about the threat of Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas that most Jews and many Israelis. He put Israeli victims of terrorism on his radio show to teach Americans about the human cost of terror and the need to stop it. In doing so, he played an important role in increasing the support of the American people for Israel during critical times. WHEN TONY got the hugely important and challenging job of White House spokesman, I knew that having him as the spokesman of America's most important political office would be good for both America and Israel. But I had no idea at the time how important it would be. I didn't see Tony as much when he was at the White House. He worked like crazy, and then needed time for his family. Then he got sick. The last time I saw him was at the White House correspondents' dinner on April 26. Everyone knew he was sick, and we were thrilled to see him. We spoke for a long time about our kids, his health and the world. He warned me to spend more time with my kids because they grow up so fast. Tony spoke about his wife and their three young children endlessly. He adored them. At his funeral, I watched his children through my tears. It was thousands of miles away from the funerals of Goldwasser and Regev, yet connected by a commitment to make the world a safer and better place. All of them will be missed. The writer is the founder and president of The Israel Project. Previously she worked on projects with the White House and more than 60 US senators.