terrorism by fighting
regimes sponsoring it
article from Canadian Jewish News, September 19, 2002
By SHELDON KIRSHNER
TORONTO - Benjamin Netanyahu capped a tumultuous speaking tour of four Canadian cities last week by calling for the overthrow of Arab regimes that sponsor terrorism.
"The way to fight terrorism is to fight the regimes sponsoring it," the former Israeli prime minister said in a speech at the Toronto Centre for the Arts, given under the auspices of State of Israel Bonds.
Netanyahu, whose Likud government lasted from 1996 until 1999, said the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by Yasser Arafat, is a terrorist entity that must be eradicated.
Describing the PA as "Arafatstan," Netanyahu declared that Arafat, his former negotiating partner under the Olso accords, would have "to go down."
Introduced as "prime minister," Netanyahu
lumped the PA with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which was
ousted last year, and with Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, which the
United States reportedly seeks to dismantle.
Claiming that the root cause of terrorism is
totalitarianism, Netanyahu said that terrorism can only be challenged
if the dictatorships that nurture it are replaced with democratic
"We're in a great battle," he told an
audience running into the hundreds. "Terrorism has to be fought and
Netanyahu, who was Israel's ninth and
youngest prime minister, arrived in Toronto after stops in Winnipeg,
Montreal and Ottawa.
He was scheduled to speak to the U.S.
Congress about terrorism on Sept. 12, a day after the first
anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and
His engagements in Canada were arranged by
Israel Bonds, the Asper Foundation and Hebrew University.
Netanyahu's tour was dogged by anti-Israel
Violent pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal prevented Netanyahu from delivering a speech at Concordia
In Ottawa, where he met with Prime Minister
Jean Chrétien, demonstrators milled around the downtown hotel
where he spoke.
At the Toronto Centre for the Arts, some 200
Palestinians and their sympathizers, waving Palestinian flags and
shouting slogans, confronted an almost equally large phalanx of
Israel supporters holding aloft Israeli flags and placards.
Armed police officers kept the antagonistic
groups apart, and there was no violence.
In a biting reference to the pro-Palestinian
protesters, Netanyahu said that Israel provokes Palestinians by its
"What you saw in Montreal is a microcosm of
the hatred we're fighting," he said, apparently referring to the
current Palestinian uprising.
Netanyahu, the author of a book on
terrorism, branded terrorism " a criminal means of warfare" that must
always be rejected and punished.
Defining terrorism as the systematic attack
against civilians, he charged Palestinians with deliberately
"Terrorists trample all human rights into
the dust," he declared.
Characterizing the events of Sept. 11 as "a
wakeup call from hell," Netanyahu launched into a blistering critique
Having earlier accused him of naming public
squares after known terrorists, Netanyahu claimed that Arafat does
not seek peace, but Israel's destruction.
He ascribed Israel's presence in the West
Bank, and the formation of the Palestinian refugee problem, to "Arab
Presenting a short history of Zionist
settlement in Palestine, Netanyahu urged the world to understand
"basic historical truths" about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Jews did not steal Palestinian lands, he
"We never gave up our claim to the land as a
free and independent people."
Growing still more emotional, he added,
"We're not in a strange land. We're in our land."
Netanyahu said that an Arab propaganda
campaign has succeeded in clouding the issue of land ownership.
Asserting that Israel and Diaspora Jews must
work hand in hand to defeat the false perception that the foundations
of Israel were laid on Palestinian territory, Netanyahu said, "This
is the most important battle we face."
Ramming home his point, he observed: "The
most important battle we're fighting is the battle for the
After describing a meeting he once had with
the late Lubavitch Rebbe in New York City, Netanyahu said he has
devoted himself to lighting the candles of truth so as to dispel the
slanders and vilification hurled against Israel.
In closing, he urged members of the audience
to become "soldiers of truth."
Several speakers preceded Netanyahu, notably
Meir Romem, Israel's consul general in Toronto, and Israel Asper, the
Winnipeg-based proprietor of the Canwest Global media empire, which
includes Global Television and the National Post.
Romem said Israel is at war and that the
objective of the Palestinians is to destroy the Jewish state.
Saying that Israel's spirit has not been
broken by the latest intifadah, Romem stated that Israel will stand
firm and win.
He asked Jews to show solidarity with Israel
by visiting the country, by investing in it and by buying its
Asper said that anti-Semitism rises when
Israel is attacked and defends itself.
Criticism of Israel veers into sheer
anti-Semitism, he continued, when it denigrates Zionism in
He called on Jews to respond vigorously to
anti-Israel bashing before it assumes crisis proportions.