«« TERRORISME - conflit israélo-palestinien

Manifestation à Concordia à l'occasion du passage de Benjamin Nétanyahou

Fight terrorism with democracy

The Ottawa Citizen Thursday, September 12, 2002

Éditorial - The Montreal protesters who forced the cancellation of Benjamin Netanyahu's speech said that the former Israeli prime minister is a racist who paints all Palestinians as terrorists. Yet in a meeting with this newspaper's editorial board (see opposite page), Mr. Netanyahu made plain that, in his view, neither Palestinians nor any other people are congenitally disposed to terrorism.

All human beings, he said, are endowed with "natural impulses of pity and sympathy." When Yasser Arafat's minions deliberately blow up Israeli children at pizza parlours, they have actually suppressed their natural humanity. If we were Palestinian, our anger would be directed not at Mr. Netanyahu but at the protesters who want the world to believe that Mr. Arafat and the violent group Hamas embody the Palestinian will.

Other politicians hire counterterrorism experts as advisers; Mr. Netanyahu, on the other hand, is his own expert, having served in an élite commando unit (he was wounded rescuing hostages from a hijacked Air Sabena plane) and written several important books on terrorism. The root cause of terrorism, he believes, is not poverty or desperation or oppression, as apologists for suicide bombers claim. Rather, it is the absence of a democratic tradition which values the sanctity of life.

He pointed out that the whole world today, from Latin America to Mongolia, is democratizing, except for one region: the Arab Middle East. It makes no sense to Mr. Netanyahu that Arabs get a pass on democracy, and it makes no sense to us either. It's not just that these dictatorships pose an eternal threat to Israel and the rest of the liberal West. As important, the millions of Arabs and Muslims who suffer under these tyrannies have waited long enough for their freedom.

Mr. Netanyahu came to Canada to advocate for democracy. Our own politicians should echo his message in their own diplomacy.