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---   War against Terror   ---




On April 2, Donald Rumsfeld announced that Saddam Hussein had instituted a $25,000 payment for suicide bombers.  How should the civilized world regard this gruesome form of terror and Saddam's peculiar subsidy for it?

We are familiar with murders committed by hired killers acting for the mafia.  These are horrible crimes, but the persons ordering the murders try to remain anonymous in order to avoid arrest and trial.  Saddam, on the other hand, has advertised his support for the suicide bombers and the fact that he ordered their actions, secure in the knowledge that he won't be prosecuted for this.  Moreover, people are not killed one at a time; the idea is rather "the more, the merrier."  The innocent victims are killed only because of their race, religion or political opinions.

The suicide bombers have introduced a new weapon  cheap and easily transported - into the business of terrorism.  And without a doubt, it will spread around the world, not only to promote the political aims of various extremist groups, but also as a way for tens and hundreds of mentally disturbed persons to solve their problems. Anyone - tacitly sympathizing with the suicide-terrorists - who thinks that this new weapon of murder-on-command can be kept localized is mistaken.  If there is no attempt to fight back against them, very soon the suicide bombers' attacks will spread beyond Jerusalem.  Their bombs will explode on the Champs-Elysees, on Red Square, on Broadway, on Picadilly, and on the streets of Peking, Cairo, Baghdad, and Damascus, depending on who orders and pays for the explosion and what are his goals.  And the suicide squads may use weapons more dangerous and destructive than bombs strapped to their waists.

Terrorism does not always involve weapons of mass destruction.  But it always affects the minds of large numbers of people, destroying their sense of security which is so necessary for a normal life, and it undermines the rule of law, the foundation of our civilization.

Suicide-terrorists commit crimes.  Those who direct them and give them orders commit crimes against humanity.  The criminal code includes a law against incitement to suicide.  Despite the seemingly voluntary nature of the suicide bombers' actions, incitement is always involved and those who order these crimes, provide the weapons for them and make posthumous payments for them should be held fully accountable for them.  If we don't stop the epidemic of suicide bombers today,  it will very soon spread around the world, fueled by petrodollars which will be used to provide stipends for the bombers' children, pensions for their parents, and other subsidies.  Moslems and Christians, Confucians and Hindus, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, Buddhists and Protestants, no one will be safe from the explosions.

Sudden death will become an everyday occurence, and fear will be omnipresent.  The idea that some states will be exempt from the plague is an illusion.  You won't escape being eaten by an alligator even if you feed your neighbors to him one-by-one.  Those who hailed the 1938 Munich agreement in hopes that it would secure peace learned this much too late.  They helped bring on World War II.

It has never been possible to stop the proliferation of a new weapon or guarantee its complete destruction.  However,  international efforts have succeeded in preventing widespread use of weapons such as atomic bombs which threaten the existence of civilization or chemical weapons which are clearly inhuman.

Suicide-terrorists have existed before in history, but they were a rare if tragic phenomenon.  Today they have become a common occurrence, turning this form of terrorism into a threat to everyone everywhere.  Paradoxically, this evident truth has not yet heightened the sense of danger usually caused by weapons of mass destruction directed  primarily against civilians.  The suicide bombers who blew up the World Trade Center and the discotheque in Tel Aviv are such a weapon.  And it makes little difference whether they acted on the orders of Bin Laden or Arafat.

Despite all this, in Europe and America there is a growing anti-Israeli hysteria whose battlecry is the defense of the Palestinian people, even though Israel is conducting a necessary and just war not against the Palestinian people but against world terrorism, against the terrorism syndicate linking Al Qaeda, Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, et al.  The war conducted by Israel is every bit as justified as the war conducted by the anti-terrorist coalition headed by the United States.  Who is behind the anti-Israeli hysteria and who pays for it we don't yet know.  But it is fed by specialists discussing the inevitability of an oil boycott, by the blackmail of Saddam Hussein, and by the personal ambitions of some politicians and press lords.  The extent of this hysteria is impressive  it has infected American students, Hollywood stars, European scholars, members of the Norwegian parliament and human rights organizations.  Scientists have been considering a boycott of their Israeli colleagues.  Two hundred and sixty-nine members of the European Parliament voted for an anti-Israeli resolution.  Members of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee have questioned whether Shimon Peres was worthy of his prize. Perhaps Arafat alone should have received the 1994 prize!

Politicians have a short memory.  They have forgotten how Arafat's Black September almost destroyed Jordan, the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, and much else.  The hysteria has tragically isolated Israel, but it is also dangerous for Europe and America where it has stirred up a troubling wave of antisemitism.  And it is well known that nothing is easier than fomenting antisemitism, but that it is not at all easy to quench it.  And no one knows what new political leaders  what new Hitlers  may ride this wave to power.  "Beat the Jews and save Russia" was the slogan of Russia's Black Hundreds.  It seems that Europe and America are sliding toward something similar.  And these are not the impoverished countries of Africa and Asia, these are the centers of world democracy. 

Once we were caught by surprise and said "It can't be - Germany and suddenly Auschwitz?  A country with its history, its culture!"  Everything is possible when memory fails!  Perhaps the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, and even the Nobel Committee will come to realize - I only hope it won't be too late - that it is untenable to demand the immediate creation of a Palestinian state or to award a Nobel Prize based on fine words or even formal treaties.  

They will understand that the first step after adoption of the Security Council resolution endorsing a Palestinian state must be the destruction of all terrorist organizations in the lands bordering on Israel.  That's what Israel is doing now.

The second stage, which should be the responsibility of the United Nations or the countries overseeing the peace process, must be the creation of a demilitarized zone separating the Palestinain state from Israel for a significant period of time, and the formation or election of a new Palestinian administration without past or present ties to terrorist organizations.  UN or NATO forces should be responsible for policing the Palestinian  territory.

Only after all this has been accomplished should peace negotiations begin.  Peace in the Middle East can be reached only in stages and after the unavoidable use of force to eliminate all terrorist groups.  Without this, the efforts of peacemakers will be fruitless, and the Security Council resolution will be remembered as a document that provoked violence instead of advancing peace.

The United Nations and European organizations have to take clearcut decisions with respect to the fight against terrorism.  They have already wasted time by their failure to organize an international tribunal or to adopt clear juridical decisions regarding terrorism in general and suicide bombing - the new weapon of mass destruction  in particular.  Much else has been left undone, allowing an ambiguous approach to the problem of terrorism, adversely affecting relations among the countries of the anti-terrorist coalition, and vitiating its initial success.

Either terrorism, nourished by anti-semitism, anti-Americanism, and the ambitions of some politicians, will win, or our common human reason will defeat it.  No third way can be found!

I ask all who share my concern for our future, for the future of our 
children and grandchildren, to support my appeal.

Elena Bonner          April 12, 2002

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