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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Naomi Ragen: Who is the Enemy?

I have not been able to recover from the terrorist attack in Beslan. Terrorism is not the enemy. Terrorism is a tactic of the enemy. Who, then, is the enemy that fights all those who identify with the civilized world -- the world in which children and their mothers are cherished and protected, even in war? The world in which school buildings, and ambulances, and hospitals, and holy places are respected and left out of armed conflicts as neutral zones? The world in which children are taught to love thy neighbor, even if he is different and follows another religion? A world in which there can be no excuse for wiring a school building with explosives, starving children and shooting them and their mothers in the back when they cry, and finally blowing up the roof over their heads, burying hundreds in rubble?

The enemy is the man who shot Tali Hatuel when she was nine months pregnant and then shot her four little girls in the head at point blank range. The enemy is the man who blew up elderly Holocaust survivors at their Passover Seder in Netanya. The enemy is the man who blew up the nightclub in Bali, who laid the bombs on the train tracks in Madrid. The enemy is the political framework that train this man and rewarded him. The enemy is the country or countries that financed the political framework. The enemy is the leader of these countries.

The enemy is the religious leaders of these countries, who did not teach their people right from wrong. The enemy is the congregations who sat through the hate-mongering sermons. The enemy is the head of the family who went home and beat his wife, and strapped suicide belts on his sons, and slit the throats of his daughter and sister for supposed violations of the family honor. The enemy is the child who grows up in such a culture and becomes one of its perpetrators.

The enemy is the Western nations who turn a blind eye, looking to excuse this behavior so it will not have to do anything about it. The Sunday Telegraph, Le Monde, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Bild, all claiming the problem is that the Russian government has brought this on itself by angering the Chechans. It is the victim who is to blame. Just as Israelis deserve what they get. Tali Hatuel deserved what she got. Her little girls. The little children of Beslan. The only way to stop the murderers of children from murdering is to give into their demands, these newspapers claim [http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2004/09/06/202.html]

I disagree. The only way to stop murderers from murdering is to destroy them.

And if you say this is impossible, I say: think back sixty years. The Thousand Year Reich is the dust of history. We destroyed their leaders, their governments, their buildings, their youth movements, their philosophy. We destroyed it all. We didn't negotiate. We didn't appease. We didn't try to show them our softer side. We uprooted the evil from mankind, because no negotiations, no fence, no signed agreement,no borders, no words were effective against them.

Long before September 11, I wrote to this list: If an Israeli grandmother and her grandchild are not safe in a playground, than no grandmother and no grandchild anywhere in the world are safe in a playground.

If the children of Beslan were not safe in their school, then no child and no school is safe anywhere in the world. Until this enemy is destroyed root and branch, without mercy or equivocation.

The breakdown in morality which we witness everyday is finally engulfing us. Those in the Western news media who call armed terrorists, men who wire schools with explosives and murder women and children, 'hostage-takers' and 'militants' are setting themselves up to mourn their own children.

A generation ago, fifty million people died because the reaction of their governments and their religious leaders and their press came too late. The Neville Chamberlains saw to that. Too late. And for us, who have our Shimon Peres', and our Yossi Beilins, and our Chiracs, and our Kofi Anans, and Michael Moores and John Kerrys will it also be too late?

For the children of Beslan, the answer is yes. And for your children?

Copyright Naomi Ragen, 2004."