By LAWRENCE HART
Israel at one time was the world leader in combating terrorism. Military colleges studied the Entebbe raid of 1976. People marveled at the courage of storming a children's house on Kibbutz Misgav Am in 1980 and killing all five terrorists before they could slaughter the remaining children. Israel launched a daring commando raid against a particular terrorist in Lebanon, coming under cover of night, killing him and getting back out without losing a man - a perfect surgical strike.
Israel is responsible for declaring that terror can never be negotiated with, knowing that any such negotiations represent a slippery slope to defeat.
But Israel has been languishing in recent years, infected by the same political correctness that is drowning the rest of the Western world. It just doesn't seem to have what it takes to deal the proper blow to the terror in its midst. What with the 2006 debacle in Lebanon, and missing the opportunity to cut the head off one of these snakes in Gaza last year, Israel appears doomed to live with terror until it either destroys us or burns itself out - in 100 years or so.
ENTER THE Sri Lankans. I think they have an answer, and I think Israel should listen to what they have to say.
Sri Lanka used to be just like Israel. It had a perennial terrorist problem with its Tamil minority. For almost 30 years, organized bands from that community terrorized the nation, to the point where the country could not evolve. Navin Dissanayake, Sri Lankan minister of investment promotion, claims that it "could have been another Singapore if it had not been for that war." Terrorism in Sri Lanka, as it did in Israel, held that country from progressing - progress which would have been good for Sri Lanka and the world.
The Tamil Tigers , sometimes referred to by its full name, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), resembled Middle East terror groups. Actually, it is more correct to say that Middle East terror groups resemble the Tamil Tigers, as the Tigers introduced many of the techniques subsequently used by Israel's enemies. They invented the suicide belt and perfected the suicide bombing attack, turning it into a tactical device. They were the first to use women and children in these attacks. And they have been accused of using their own innocent civilians as human shields. They are a vicious crowd, and were implicated in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi of India in 1991. As we all know, the Palestinians have imitated these tactics with devastating brutality.
The Sri Lankans had more or less lived with this horror since 1983. Then 9/11 happened and a new dynamic, promoted by president George W. Bush and the United States, gave the Sri Lankans a new outlook. With a new administration elected on the promise of stopping the LTTE permanently, the country embarked on a full-scale military assault. It sent its army, much stronger than the Tamil tigers, into Tamil-occupied territory and began to take back town by town, going street to street in some cases, and killing anyone who resisted.
Jehan Perera of the Sri Lankan Peace Council said, "This government has taken the position that virtually any price is worth paying to rid the country of terrorism."
The price paid was indeed a heavy one. Many innocent people died. The Sri Lankan government deeply regrets the killing of innocent civilians, but most government officials believe they made a conscious choice to pay that price, and that the alternative status quo was simply no longer acceptable.
It was bloody and dirty, and they took a lot of criticism for it. The UN estimates that during the final months of fighting in Sri Lanka, at least 7,000 Tamil civilians were killed and 13,000 were wounded. But they also wiped out the scourge of terror, not stopping until total victory was declared last May. Today, Sri Lankans can once again walk the streets of their cities, visit the marketplaces and conduct business without the fear of being murdered in such gruesome ways that not even their loved ones can identify their bodies. It is a new dawn for Sri Lanka.
Israel can take a real lesson from this experience. The threat facing the Jewish state from the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon is no different than the threat to the north of Sri Lanka, and its coastline into the south that the Tamils occupied before the Sri Lankan army began its war of elimination.
THE TIME has come to admit that there might not be a solution to the Palestinian problem, but there is a way to end it. The next time terror forces Israel to take military action, this option should be considered. Israel must realize that there will be no peace with an intransigent enemy that refuses to act in good faith. Palestinian rejectionism and Iranian-backed Hizbullah threats to our existence will never be placated; they will not stop until Israel is destroyed. Once the population realizes this unfortunate reality, there is only one way to change it. Israel must take the Sri Lankan initiative and move into these areas one by one, cornering, enveloping and killing off all armed resistance.
Bending over backward to make peace with the Palestinians has proven fruitless. It's time to make the choice of a better life for all. More than 60 years of living with this is enough. When we have completely wiped out this enemy, a new dynamic will rise. Without the Muslim thugs holding their own people back, there will be nothing to stop them from negotiating genuine peace. There might be a Palestinian, a Lebanese, a Syrian, maybe even an Iranian peace partner which will transform the Middle East from a charnel house of hatred and bloodshed to a prosperous community of nations working together to make the daily lives of all their citizens better.
The writer lives and works in Los Angeles. He has a BA from California State University, Northridge in history, with an emphasis on the Middle East and is currently a graduate student at that institution. He is a father of three.
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