April 3, 2002
The Honorable George
President of the United States
Dear Mr. President:
We write to thank you for your courageous leadership in the war on terrorism
and to offer our full support as you continue to protect the security
and well-being of Americans and all freedom-loving peoples around the
In particular, we want to commend you for your strong stance in support
of the Israeli government as it engages in the present campaign to fight
terrorism. As a liberal democracy under repeated attack by murderers
who target civilians, Israel now needs and deserves steadfast support.
This support, moreover, is essential to Israels continued survival
as a free and democratic nation, for only the United States has the
power and influence to provide meaningful assistance to our besieged
ally. And with the memory of the terrorist attack of September 11 still
seared in our minds and hearts, we Americans ought to be especially
eager to show our solidarity in word and deed with a fellow victim of
No one should doubt that the United States and Israel share a common
enemy. We are both targets of what you have correctly called an Axis
of Evil. Israel is targeted in part because it is our friend,
and in part because it is an island of liberal, democratic principles
-- American principles -- in a sea of tyranny, intolerance, and hatred.
As Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has pointed out, Iran, Iraq, and Syria
are all engaged in inspiring and financing a culture of political
murder and suicide bombing against Israel, just as they have aided
campaigns of terrorism against the United States over the past two decades.
You have declared war on international terrorism, Mr. President. Israel
is fighting the same war.
This central truth has important implications for any Middle East peace
process. For one spoke of the terrorist network consists of Yasser Arafat
and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Although your critics
in the United States, Europe and the Arab world suggest that you and
your administration bear some responsibility for the lack of political
progress between Israel and the Palestinians, they are mistaken. As
Secretary of State Powell recently stated, the present crisis stems
not from the absence of a political way forward but from
, terrorism in its rawest form. That terrorism
has been aided, abetted, harbored, and in many instances directed by
Mr. Arafat and his top lieutenants. Mr. Arafat has demonstrated time
and again that he cannot be part of the peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. He demonstrated it in July 2000, when he rejected the most
generous Israeli peace offer in history; he demonstrated it in September
2000, when he launched the new intifada against Israel; and he demonstrated
it again these past two weeks when, despite the hand you offered him
through Vice President Cheney, he gave sanction to some of the worst
terrorist violence against Israeli citizens.
true that the United States has a leading role to play in the Middle East
and, potentially, in resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
But it is critical that negotiations not be the product of terrorism or
conducted under the threat of terrorist attack. This would send a most
dangerous signal to our adversaries that civilized states do not have
the necessary courage to fight terrorism in all its forms.
Mr. President, it can no longer be the policy of the United States to
urge, much less to pressure, Israel to continue negotiating with Arafat,
any more than we would be willing to be pressured to negotiate with Osama
Bin Laden or Mullah Omar. Nor should the United States provide financial
support to a Palestinian Authority that acts as a cog in the machine of
Middle East terrorism, any more than we would approve of others providing
assistance to Al Qaeda.
Instead, the United States should lend its full support to Israel as it
seeks to root out the terrorist network that daily threatens the lives
of Israeli citizens. Like our own efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere,
Israels task will not be easy. It will not be accomplished quickly
or painlessly. But with fortitude, on our part as well on the part of
the Israeli people, it can succeed in significantly reducing the risk
of future terrorist attacks against Israel and against us. And, in so
doing, we will give the Palestinian people a chance they have so far not
had under Arafats rule -- an opportunity to construct a political
culture and government that do not marry their national and religious
aspirations with suicide bombers.
Furthermore, Mr. President, we urge you to accelerate plans for removing
Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. As you have said, every day that Saddam
Hussein remains in power brings closer the day when terrorists will have
not just airplanes with which to attack us, but chemical, biological,
or nuclear weapons, as well. It is now common knowledge that Saddam, along
with Iran, is a funder and supporter of terrorism against Israel. Iraq
has harbored terrorists such as Abu Nidal in the past, and it maintains
links to the Al Qaeda network. If we do not move against Saddam Hussein
and his regime, the damage our Israeli friends and we have suffered until
now may someday appear but a prelude to much greater horrors. Moreover,
we believe that the surest path to peace in the Middle East lies not through
the appeasement of Saddam and other local tyrants, but through a renewed
commitment on our part, as you suggested in your State of the Union address,
to the birth of freedom and democratic government in the Islamic world.
Mr. President, in that address, you put forth a most compelling vision
of a world at peace, free from the threat of terrorism, where freedom
flourishes. The strength of that vision lies in its moral clarity and
consistency. In the war on terrorism, we cannot condemn some terrorists
while claiming that other terrorists are potential partners for peace.
We cannot help some allies under siege, while urging others to compromise
their fundamental security. As you eloquently stated: Our enemies
send other peoples children on missions of suicide and murder. They
embrace tyranny and death as a cause and a creed. We stand for a different
choice, made long ago, on the day of our founding. We affirm it again
Israels fight against terrorism is our fight. Israels victory
is an important part of our victory. For reasons both moral and strategic,
we need to stand with Israel in its fight against terrorism.
William J. Bennett
Reuel Marc Gerecht
Bruce P. Jackson
Stephen P. Rosen
William Schneider, Jr.