While Americans were shocked and frightened by the terrorist assaults of Sept. 11, we have calmly and resolutely forged together to support our government and each other in the war to destroy bin Laden and his extremist cohorts. President Bush and his cabinet leaders have responded in a measured and moderate way and have enlisted international support for the unpleasant campaign America will need to lead for years to combat this malignant threat to Western civilization. In the process, sadly, our own freedoms will likely be circumscribed (as they always are in wartime).
As we proceed to fight the enemy, I believe there are two other areas of extremism we should identify and address:
First, our ardor for consuming Persian Gulf oil must subside and we should not be seen by moderate Arabs as supporting repressive regimes like the Fahd dynasty in Saudi Arabia which humiliates women and supports the worst excesses in their societies. We need to wean ourselves away from abject dependence on depleting fossil fuels, and if this means we stop driving monstrous gas-guzzling vehicles, so be it.
Secondly, we must modify our unquestioning support for Israel and insist upon better treatment for the Palestinians. While it is proper for America to support Israel (because of the horrific experience of the Holocaust), it is indefensible to allow extremists like Ariel Sharon to taunt and kill so many impoverished Palestinians. The continuing settlement of the West Bank by Israel amounts to an armed occupation, and it must be stopped. How? I would urge that America and the United Nations should intervene and guarantee secure statehood for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. While these intractable enemies will never agree about Jerusalem and will never like each other, this would at least eliminate the biggest grievance upon which bin Laden's followers rely to justify their monstrous acts against us.
I hope Americans will join together and address these issues with the same resolve that we have evinced in our campaign against terrorism.