Editorial, May 3, 2011

Editorial, May 3, 2011

The war’s not over

ON May 1, the death of a mass murderer driven by a maniacal ideology was announced to the world. On the same date 66 years later, the death of another mass murderer driven by a maniacal ideology was announced to the world.
In 1945, it was the suicide of Adolf Hitler. In 2011, it was the targeted assassination of Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden’s death, proclaimed by a reserved US President late on Sunday night in Washington DC, was celebrated loudly in the United States. But in other places, it was accompanied by a sigh of relief.

Analysts are almost unanimous in their views that this killing will not purge the world of terrorists. Brainwashed individuals driven by a twisted reading of the Koran and hell-bent on killing innocents they consider infidels will continue to try to spread their dream of an Islamic caliphate.

But they have lost their figurehead and bin Laden’s demise signals the end of an era. It has been a decade-long era of being alert, but not alarmed. Of getting used to taking off coats, shoes and bags before being scanned at airports. Of reading alerts on government websites before travelling. Of putting parent volunteers outside the front of Jewish schools to keep an eye out.

Bin Laden – the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington and closely linked to the two Bali bombings that killed scores of Australians – was the catalyst for all of that.

Of course, it is unlikely that airport security will be reversed, danger ratings will be dismissed, or security volunteers will be asked to stand down, but now the world knows who it is up against and knows that while it might take time, good can prevail over evil.

However, now is not the time to rest easy; it is time to reload.

There is still plenty of evil in the world – whether it is Hamas, whose leaders mourned bin Laden’s death, or Iranian despot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Barack Obama, and his allies in Israel, Australia, the United Kingdom and beyond, need to use this week’s success as motivation to continue the fight.

The AJN is under no illusion that evil can be eradicated tomorrow. But, like bin Laden, we know where it lives.

A deal with the devil

ONE can’t help but marvel at the level of chutzpah displayed by Hamas. Just days away from a landmark agreement that would heal the five-year rift between the radical Islamic organisation and the secular Palestinian Authority (PA), you might expect Gaza and Damascus-based Hamas to offer some crumbs of moderation that would justify international support for the deal.

You might expect it, but you’d be wrong.

There would be no beating around the bush last week for Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh, who declared without equivocation that recognition of Israel would not be part of Hamas’s unity pact with the PA.

Nor would even a shadow of political correctness encroach upon the group’s glorification of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden this week.

It’s almost as though Hamas is daring the West to challenge it. With each day comes a further test of how brazenly confrontational the terror group can behave before even the Palestinians’ greatest advocates on the world stage begin to question the wisdom of rushing headlong towards Palestinian statehood at any cost.

Unfortunately, with the exception of some voices in the US Congress, neither Washington, nor the EU, United Nations or Mideast Quartet appear to fully grasp the implications of  the rapidly developing situation.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague epitomised the collective diplomatic cognitive disconnect when he told reporters this week that his country welcomes the Palestinian unity deal, and then casually downplayed the risks.

“Of course, lots of details have to be worked out and we will have to judge everyone by their actions and intentions,” he said, flippantly.

Hague would do well to heed the advice of his fellow countryman, Tony Blair, who, as special envoy to the Quartet, has always vowed to withhold approval for a Palestinian unity pact unless Hamas agreed to respect existing peace agreements, abandon violence and recognise Israel.

In a meeting with Blair on Tuesday, Netanyahu held firm, telling the Quartet’s envoy that Israel would not negotiate with a patchwork PA ­government that is half-dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

This week’s assassination of Osama bin Laden is a stark reminder that terrorism cannot be accommodated or compromised with.

Blair should advise his diplomatic colleagues to stand with Israel and deny an unreformed Hamas the legitimacy that the PA’s dangerous unity deal would convey as written.

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