by Jeff Jacoby Boston Globe
According to a pair of Gallup polls released last week, 83 percent of
Americans say Israel is justified in taking military action against
Hezbollah, while 76 percent disapprove of Hezbollah's attacks on
Israel. Yet when asked which side in the conflict the United States
should take, 65 percent answer: neither side. Indeed, 3 in 4
Americans say they are concerned that the US military will be drawn
into the fighting, or that it will increase the likelihood of
terrorism against the United States.
Gallup's numbers suggest two things. First, that most Americans,
sizing up the warfare in northern Israel and southern Lebanon,
recognize that Hezbollah is the aggressor and that Israel is fighting
in self-defense. And second, that most Americans believe this fight
has nothing to do with the United States.
Welcome to Sept. 10.
For years Osama bin Laden had preached that it was "the duty of
Muslims to confront, fight, and kill" Americans. His adherents had
responded by blowing up the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and
slamming a boat laden with explosives into the USS Cole. Yet most
Americans paid no attention to Al Qaeda and its threats — until 3,000
people lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
Has nothing been learned from that experience?
Hezbollah's barbaric assault on Israel — kidnapping and murdering
soldiers who weren't engaged in hostilities, firing waves of missiles
into cities and towns, packing rockets with ball bearings meant to
maximize suffering by shredding human flesh — is part and parcel of
the radical Islamist jihad against the free world. Nothing to do with
the United States? It has everything to do with the United States.
Hezbollah hates Americans at least as implacably as Al Qaeda does,
and rarely misses an opportunity to say so.
"We consider [America] to be an enemy because it wants to humiliate
our governments, our regimes, and our peoples," railed Sheik Hassan
Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, at an enormous rally in February
2005. (Video of Nasrallah's speech, which was broadcast on
Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV, has been posted on the internet by MEMRI,
the Middle East Media Research Institute.) "It is the greatest
plunderer of our treasures, our oil, and our resources. . . . Our
motto, which we are not afraid to repeat year after year, is: 'Death
to America!' "
And from tens of thousands of Hezbollah supporters came the answering
cry: "Death to America! Death to America! Death to America! Death to
These are anything but empty threats. Prior to 9/11, Hezbollah was
responsible for more American casualties than any other terrorist
organization in the world. Among its victims was Army officer William
F. Buckley, the CIA station chief in Beirut who was abducted by
Hezbollah in March 1984 and who died after 15 months in captivity of
torture and illness.
And the young Navy diver Robert Stethem, singled out during the 1985
Hezbollah hijacking of TWA Flight 847 and brutally beaten before
being shot to death.
And William Higgins, a colonel in the Marine Corps and commander of
the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, who was seized by Hezbollah
in February 1988, tortured, and eventually hanged. (As Michelle
Malkin perceptively noted last week, the tape of Higgins, bound and
gagged and swinging from a rope, was one of the first publicly
disseminated jihadi snuff films.)
And the 241 US servicemen murdered by Hezbollah on Oct. 23, 1983,
when a suicide bomber drove a truck rigged with 12,000 pounds of TNT
into their barracks at the Beirut airport.
And the 19 US servicemen killed in the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers
in Saudi Arabia.
For more than two decades, Hezbollah's Shi'ite fanatics, backed by
Iran and sheltered by Syria, have made it their business to murder,
maim, hijack, and kidnap Americans with the same irrational hostility
they harbor for Israel. Yet when Tony Snow, the Bush administration's
gifted spokesman, was asked on July 19 whether the president
believes "that this is as much the United States' war as it is
Israel's war," he answered, "No," and then tried to change the
subject. A moment later the question returned: "I don't think you
really answered the part about why is this not our war?"
Snow's incredible reply: "Why would it be our war? I mean, it's not
on our territory. This is a war in which the United States — it's not
even a war. What you have are hostilities, at this point, between
Israel and Hezbollah. I would not characterize it as a war."
9/11, it was said time and time again, "changed everything." No
longer would Americans walk around with eyes wide shut, oblivious to
the threat from the Islamofascists. Not our war? Listen again to the
Hezbollah hordes: "Death to America! Death to America!"
They're serious about it — deadly serious. Why aren't we?