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Catching Cold

by Berel Wein

I have noticed that after living in Israel for the past number of years, whenever I now visit the United States, I immediately catch a cold.

Whether the cause is medical, psychological or emotional, I am unable to determine. But the sniffling truth is that I catch cold in America.

Now, when one has a cold - a nasty, sniffling cold that is obvious to all around you - people politely ignore you and keep their distance. By exhibiting the symptoms of one's cold, one is transformed into at least a minor pariah. Therefore my reception in America is one of warmth and friendship, curiosity and interest - but at a distance.

This pretty much describes the attitude of the US administration toward the State of Israel currently. Israel definitely has a bad cold and the US is determined to keep away. While America is certainly justified in attacking Afghanistan, it has no tolerance for our attempts to prevent or control Palestinian terrorism. Having enlisted the aid of the foxes in protecting the chicken coop, America is foolishly blind to the incongruity of its war on terrorism policies.

Thus Saudi Arabia, home of the main Osama bin Laden terrorists, banker for Arab terrorism worldwide and the representative of the most extreme and violent definition of Koranic Islam, is a welcome partner in the war against terrorism. But for that war to be won, Saudi Arabia itself will have to be revolutionized, its current society and system of government greatly altered, and its official intolerance to Christianity and Judaism tempered. The US won't touch Israel with a 10-foot pole, lest it be contaminated by our "cold" - by our hard realization of what is really necessary to fight terrorism and who the terrorists really are. But the Saudis are apparently germ-free no matter what they do or say.

We are all aware how the cause of world peace and security has now been advanced by the inclusion of Syria in the Security Council of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning United Nations organization. It cannot be easy to win any war on terrorism with partners such as Syria on our side.

But the chief hypocritical partner in all of this charade is our own "peace partner," also a Nobel Peace Prize winner, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.

Piously decrying all violence, he continually allows the forces of violence and terror to operate against Israel, always careful to deflect any responsibility for his terrorism by the time-honored proclamation: "Who, me?" And Arafat is confidently aware that any Israeli reaction to his continued violence will be roundly condemned by the US for somehow interfering with its war against terrorism.

If this is not Alice in Wonderland diplomacy, then what is?

As we all know, there are no real remedies for the common cold. Hot tea, patience and forbearance are the prescriptions for eventually feeling better. Well, these are probably the only ingredients of our difficult and mostly unpalatable solution to the current matzav. I don't think that the outside world - the United States of America included - will ever think that we don't have a cold. However, by bitter experience, the Americans will eventually realize that it may be better to have a friend with a cold than a hypocritical pseudo-friend/sometimes enemy who proclaims himself to be in good health and living in a germ-free environment.

We really have no choice but to defend ourselves, no matter how unpopular that may make us in the eyes of the Nobel Peace Prize Award Committee. So let us stock up on tissues and keep our spirits strong and confident. Eventually, we will prevail, as we always have.



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