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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

World needs leaders like Netanyahu

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with an injured Israeli soldier in the southern city of Beersheba following last week's deadly terrorist attacks along Israel's porous border with Egypt.

Can there be anyone in the civilized world who didn’t feel a surge of empathy with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he responded to the death of seven Israelis at the hands of terrorists from Gaza?

Most elected leaders would go on the air at such an obscenity, and attempt to reassure their people. But not all are Netanyahu.

George Bush did it after 9/11, and he was persuasive. Barack Obama has done it when occasion demands (the assassination of Osama bin Laden), but he is not Netanyahu.

What Netanyahu said was clear, simple and stirring: “The people who gave the order to murder our people and hid in Gaza are no longer among the living. I set a principle: When someone harms the citizens of Israel, we react immediately and with force.”

He then went on to note that it was a well-organized terrorist attack launched from the Sinai, aimed at three separate buses and private vehicles. Some 40 people were wounded, and some of the attackers were killed by Egyptian soldiers.

The electrifying news was that Israeli jets immediately attacked the headquarters and homes in Gaza, of leaders of something calling itself the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), killing its leader, the deputy leader, and a number of others.

Of course, PRC spokesmen insisted the Israelis made a “grave mistake” and that vengeance will be forthcoming “for the assassination of our leaders.”

Outsiders have no way of knowing details of what happened. But the Israelis don’t make many mistakes in these sorts of situations. And one can’t believe a word that comes out of Gaza, where Hamas is dedicated to the annihilation of Israel.

Maybe it’s nostalgia, or even wishful-thinking, but one envies the sort of categorical leadership displayed by Netanyahu. Every civilized country worthy of the name, should consider a similar policy of using the full influence of its power to defend or stand up for citizens in peril.

Canada is alarmingly blasé about citizens in trouble in different lands — and I’m not thinking of criminals or drug dealers who break the law, but of innocent people trapped in a mess abroad that’s not their doing.

Canada is perfectly prepared to negotiate economic deals with China, when Canadian citizens are imprisoned in China who’ve committed no offence.

If Prime Minister Stephen Harper — or U.S. President Barack Obama — displayed a smidgin of Netanyahu’s resolve in similar circumstances they’d both be leading a parade of approval.

This does not mean threatening air strikes, but standing up on behalf of countrymen in trouble — Iran, the Middle East, Far East, South America.

As for Israel, one doesn’t have to like or approve of that country, to realize that “peace” is arguably the easiest thing to achieve, presuming the Palestinian side and its agitators want it — which they don’t.

Israelis know the rest of the world would abandon them if they listened to voices that urge compromise and surrender while being attacked — witness the Arab League’s belligerent response. Reality is that no Middle Eastern country wants a true Palestinian state.

Netanyahu has a noble legacy. His brother, Yoni, led the 1976 raid on Entebbe that freed 100 hostages taken by terrorists. Yoni was killed — the only casualty in the most daring raid ever of its kind.

Would that the Western world had leaders like Netanyahu.