When suicide bombers attacked America last September, nothing could stop our retaliation.

Yet when suicide bombers attack Israel, week after week, Israel is told — even by Americans — to back off.

When we bombed Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda was organized, it was a mission to
“smoke them out.”

Yet when Israel attacks its hornet’s nest of terror, it is accused of
“occupying” and told to retreat.

When we fired on Kabul, from the safety of the air, we said innocent people would be caught in the crossfire and, sadly, this was war.

Yet when Israeli soldiers go door to door in Palestinian areas, the most dangerous yet humane way to root out terrorists, we call them “murderers” the moment one civilian is killed.

When Osama bin Laden denied any involvement with Sept. 11, we said he was lying and vowed to get him “dead or alive.”

Yet when groups tied to Yasser Arafat boldly claim responsibility for suicide attacks, Israel is told not to harm their leader.

When we struck back against extremist terror, Israel was behind us.

When Israel strikes back, we say, “Enough is enough.”

You tell me. Is that hypocritical?

Sympathize and negotiate

When we were scorned by critics who thought our treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo was inhumane — because we bound them, gagged them and blindfolded them — we bristled and said, “These are dangerous people.”

Yet when Israel demands certain Palestinians strip and stay on the ground, we say this is outrageous and must be stopped.

When a videotape emerges showing bin Laden speaking of Sept. 11, we say it proves the man is evil.

Yet when Israelis produce documents to show Arafat funds terror, they are accused of forgery.

When certain Muslims suggest we hear out bin Laden and Al Qaeda, that we understand their cause and the reasons for their anger, we grit our teeth and say those people want us dead, why should we talk to them?

Yet when Israel says the same thing, it is told it must be sympathetic and negotiate — even with people who deny Israel’s right to exist.

You tell me. Is that hypocritical?

Targets of death

War means death. There are innocent victims — Palestinians as well as Israelis — on all sides of this equation.

But let’s be consistent. Our nearly 3,000 dead in the World Trade Center was horrific, but Israel, relative to its small population, has lost a half-dozen World Trade Centers in the last 18 months — all to suicide bombing. Every time you see five Israelis dead in an attack, it is like 250 Americans dead here. How many of those events would it take for us lash out with all our power?

Would we pause and consider that the enemy wanted its own state? Or that its people were “desperate”?

No way. For radical groups such as Hamas and Hizballah, statehood is not a stop sign anyhow. They want Israel obliterated, state or no state, the same way bin Laden wants Westerners obliterated. Bin Laden had his own country. He had billions. Did land and money keep him from murder?

No. No more than desperation drives you to it. There have been desperate people in Rwanda and Bosnia, yet they never chose to blow themselves up. There have been occupied people across the globe — even right here, with American Indians. Would we accept if descendants of the Sioux Nation began blowing themselves up in shopping malls?

There is a difference between “desperate” and “brainwashed.” Desperate people want to make their lives better. Brainwashed people think “kaboom” sends you to heaven. Innocents are being killed on both sides. The difference is, for Palestinian terrorists, those are the targets.

We can tell the Israelis to stop, but we wouldn’t stop. We can tell them to negotiate, but we wouldn’t negotiate. We can see their dead and say it hurts as much as ours, but we don’t mean it. Because if it were ours, we’d be doing what they’re doing. And we’d damn anyone who spoke against us.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com.

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