(Photo: Reuters/Lee Celano)
On the wall in my office hangs a map of the Entebbe airport in Uganda. The rudimentary map has just a few notations, written in Hebrew. It's not a travel map or an outline of the vendors at the airport; it is a diagram of the facility used in what is recognized as one of the first modern anti-terrorism operations conducted by the Israelis at the Entebbe airport in 1976.
The successful raid resulted in the rescue of 102 hostages that were held for over a week when their plane was hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a part of the larger Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Three of the Israeli hostages and one commando were killed in the operation. The one commando was a unit commander Yonatan Netanyahu, brother of the current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The map was a gift from one of the force commanders of the Entebbe raid, given to me back in the late 1980's when I had the opportunity to work with a number of Israeli anti-terrorist experts. My interaction with the Israelis taught me a lot about how people live and deal with neighbors who not only refuse to recognize their right to exist as a nation, but in many cases want to eliminate them and their people.
This week I have been reminded of those lessons as I have been in Israel meeting with key Israeli civilian, religious and military leaders about the on-going threats to this embattled U.S. ally. It is clear that better than anyone, they understand how to interpret both the words and actions of those in this region who seek to do them harm.
With the backdrop of Obama's Secretary of State, John Kerry, visiting Israel this week, one message has been very consistent from Israeli leaders: Israelis have a clearer view of their security needs than we do.
Israelis value and want the friendship and support of the United States, but they understand this region of the world much better than we do. While the motivation has been honorable, in most cases, our Western solutions have not solved many of the challenging problems of the Middle East. Yet we continue to think that our parliamentary democracies can take root in sands where only desert despots have ruled for centuries.
Lacking experience of genuine democracy, and having no appreciation of religious freedom as the necessary precondition for democracy, the Arab rulers in this region are not likely to reciprocate Western promises of aid and diplomatic support. They take American gold and continue to oppress their peoples – especially their Christian minorities. (They have long since expelled their Jewish minorities.)
In 2007, for example, the Bush administration hosted a Mideast Summit of some 40 nations, held at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. The Arab delegates refused even to enter the same doors as the Israelis. Predictably, nothing came of this futile effort.
The attempts at "nation-building" in Afghanistan and Iraq masked the harsh reality that American troops were engaged in propping up Islamist regimes. Americans naturally recoiled at supporting such efforts and turned the Republicans out in a series of election cycles.
Now, Americans are focused on the ObamaCare "debacle." This is surely important, but it may be distracting us from the gathering storm in the Mideast.
Israel exists because the Jewish people cannot trust others to "have your back." It is very clear that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry do not understand the mortal threat posed by the Tehran mullahs' lunge toward nuclear weapons.
The appointment of Chuck Hagel as U.S. Secretary of Defense proves that Mr. Obama misperceives the world – and especially the threat from a nuclear Iran.
Mr. Hagel had to be coached through his disastrous confirmation testimony. The aides at his elbow had to hurriedly whisper in his ear: "No, the U.S. does not favor a policy of containment of Iranian nuclear weapons; we oppose Iran even obtaining nuclear weapons," they urgently told him.
Hagel could not have passed an oral exam in college with his weak performance – under oath. But he passed muster with the surrender caucus in the U.S. Senate.
This week, we saw the largest rally in Tehran in years. It was filled with people burning American flags, celebrating the 34th anniversary of an act of war against the U.S., the 1979 seizure of our embassy, our sovereign territory.
Those mobs screamed "Death to America!" Those mobs were approved and incited by the mullahs' regime in Tehran. If they were not so approved, they would have been gunned down – as the democracy demonstrators were shot down by the regime in June 2009.
When President Obama telephoned the newest front man for the Tehran mullahs, Hasan Rouhani, the Western media gushed that his telephone call was "historic."
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had an even greater sense of history. He jumped on an airplane – the first Prime Minister ever to fly – and flew off to meet Hitler at Munich. The Western media then, too, swooned.
Israelis can be assured of this much: Millions of Evangelicals in America are praying for you and for the peace of Jerusalem. But we understand that peace comes through strength and we will be loud in our support for the actions you must take to defend yourself against those who seek your destruction. We know that when Israel strikes, she strikes for us, too.
Winston Churchill said it well in World War II. When Britain stood alone, he rallied his people. "We fight by ourselves alone, but we do not fight for ourselves alone." Millions beyond the seas recognized how true those fighting words were.
And so it will be today. Regardless of a weak and irresolute Obama administration in Washington, millions of Americans will thank you, Israel, and bless you for lashing out against nuclear weapons in the hands of the world's worst terrorist regime.
We have faith that the G-d of Israel will be your shield.