Yohanan Ramati chairs the Jerusalem Institute for Western Defense. Ramati graduated from Oxford University and was a captain in the British Army before immigrating to Israel in 1949, shortly after it became a state. He worked on the editorial staff for the Jerusalem Post, contributing articles soon after arriving in Israel. From 1959 to 1968, he served as an executive for the Jerusalem Municipality, first representing the Labor Party, then Teddy Kollek’s Rafi Party. In 1968, he joined the conservative Likud party. In 1987, Ramati founded the Jerusalem Institute for Western Defense to alert the West of the increasing militancy of Islam. Each month, the Institute publishes a 12-page bulletin on the Moslem world, taken from Moslem publications. In addition, Ramati produces a quarterly bulletin addressing the dangers facing the world.
Trumpet: Last October’s Wye River accord between the Israelis and the Palestinians was essentially a land-for-peace agreement. President Clinton called it “a stepping stone toward broader Middle East Peace.” Why do you feel Israel’s only hope for survival is the breakdown of the peace talks?
Ramati: What does [Clinton] mean by that?… United States policy is that we should cede the Golan Heights to Syria, which is an admittedly terrorist state; regarded by the United States as a terrorist state….
Trumpet: Why is it so critical for the Golan Heights, or the West Bank, for that matter, to remain in Israel’s possession?
Ramati: We need to be in a position, in a war that is conducted by conventional means, first of all, to have a deterrent which prevents them from starting a war. Deterrence means, first and foremost, to have the Golan Heights. The Syrians are afraid to attack us because we are sitting there, and we are 40 miles from Damascus, holding the high ground and holding the watershed. We know what is happening over there; they do not know what is happening in Israel. The moment they get even half of the Golan, including Mt. Hermon and all those mountains, the situation will be reversed. If they get the whole of the Golan, they will be sitting on top of eastern Galilee; and the Golan contains 40 percent of our water resources—we are going to be dependent, for our water, on Syria….
Trumpet: You said that the West, and particularly the United States, has had pro-Muslim policies from World War II on. Could you elaborate on that?
Ramati: Indonesia occupied the Christian island of East Timor. When the Portuguese gave it up, East Timor wanted independence—they had no desire to be part of Indonesia, it wasn’t part of Indonesia. Indonesia [a Muslim state] occupied it, annexed it, and nothing was done about it in the West; nobody cared.
In the dispute between Pakistan and India, Western sympathy has been all along with Pakistan, although Pakistan has been encouraging Islamic terrorists—Islamic terrorist bases near the Afghanistan border, which promote terrorism, not only against Israel, but against Egypt of all countries, and also the West.
There was an attempt by Christians in Biafra, in southern Nigeria, to get self-determination, between 1967 and 1970. The West didn’t lift a finger to help them. Self-determination does not apply when Christians want it, it applies only when Muslims want it.
The outstanding example is Lebanon. Lebanon was created to be a Christian state. There was a Christian majority there and a Christian power structure there. But there is no oil in Lebanon. In 1976, Syria invaded Lebanon. Nothing was done to expel Syria from Lebanon. Syria said it had come to make peace between rival factions in Lebanon, between the Muslims and the Christians. It was a good excuse. They came in to destroy the Christian power structure in Lebanon, and they did so. And Christians have been emigrating from Lebanon ever since, which is why now they are not a majority there. Another reason why they are not a majority there is because of the Palestinians who are there, who are not Lebanese citizens.
So nothing was done to expel the Syrians. Nothing was done when the Syrians arranged the killing of 241 [U.S.] marines in Beirut. There was an American peace force there and a French and Italian one. The Syrians wanted them out because they saw them as a threat to their control of Lebanon. They arranged for the killing, first, of the president of Lebanon, who was pro-Israeli, and Christian; then 241 marines; before that they had blown up the American Embassy in Beirut. And what happened? [America] didn’t threaten them like they’re threatening the Serbs in Kosovo now. Because they were the Muslims. [The U.S. does not] threaten Muslims. You do threaten them when they’re in Iraq, because they occupied Kuwait, which was an oil interest of yours, and Kuwait was a Muslim country too. You did stage operations against Bin Ladin after he blew up your embassies…. But you have never threatened a Muslim state—except Iraq, in the case of Kuwait; and that’s an intra-Muslim dispute. It was not a dispute with a Christian country…. You did nothing against the Syrians when they attacked your people and killed them, not there and not in Dhahran. And you still want us to give territory to Syria? There is something very, very wrong here.
My daughter was killed in the explosion in Buenos Aires, at the Israeli Embassy; she was working there. I know that the Syrians were responsible. So do most of the Argentinian people. It’s being blamed on Iran, and because it’s being blamed on Iran they will never find out who did it. And they don’t want to hear that, of course. So, you’re protecting the Syrians. Don’t ask me why you’re protecting the Syrians. You’re protecting a state which you call a terrorist state.
Trumpet: What about America’s involvement in Yugoslavia?
Ramati: A couple of months ago, it was reported that over 50 Serb civilians were massacred by Albanians, of the Kosovo Liberation Army, in two villages in Kosovo—Serb civilians. They were massacred; they were mutilated. There is an American ambassador, called Christopher Hill, who was sent there. He admitted this. He admitted it. But the thing was not publicized all over the world. There were no threats against the Albanians, that they would be bombed. And thereafter, charges were made that there were some Serb massacres of Albanians.
Trumpet: And that was publicized?
Ramati: And how it was publicized. It was not only publicized, it was made an excuse for interfering with the sovereignty of Serbia—Kosovo is an integral part of Serbia. Kosovo is not something that Serbia has occupied by armed force; it’s been part of Serbia for hundreds of years, and didn’t always have an Albanian majority—the Albanian majority is a matter of the last hundred years…. And what is Albania? Albania is in a state of complete anarchy; it trades in drugs; it is the most lawless state in Europe. Its rights have to be protected, the rights of ethnic Albanians have to be protected in Kosovo. The rights of the Bosnian Serbs have to be protected in Bosnia-Herzegovina…. The Muslim interest in Bosnia was certainly the United States’ interest; don’t ask me why.
Trumpet: You have said in your publication that the most crucial factor to Hitler’s aggressiveness was the West’s lack of “political courage.” As you consider the dangers facing Western civilization today, do you see any political courage out there that might bring solutions to some of these problems we face?
Ramati: Not today, I don’t. Look, I see the kind of leadership, the kind of idealism, that has always, in history, carried nations, eventually, to victory—I see that in one place only, among the Muslim states.
Trumpet: Why is that?
Ramati: First of all, because they have an aggressive religion; they have a religion that believes in aggression; they have a religion that believes in extending territorial rule over non-Muslim people….
[I have written about the] ideological confusion in the West. What do I mean by that? We talk on the one hand about promoting democracy. You haven’t promoted democracy anywhere. All you have promoted are Moslem states, which are, by definition, dictatorships—all of them. There isn’t a democracy among them…. What sort of an ideology can this sort of thing produce, when faced with a Moslem world which believes that the highest value is not peace, but land?… We cannot buy the friendship of the Arab states. And it doesn’t matter how much they gain from us. And you can’t buy that, you can’t buy that. Because that is not what matters most to them. What matters most to them is to extend Islam, by any available means. And Islam is the only growing religion in the world today. Christianity is not, Judaism is certainly not. Islam is extending everywhere, it is expanding everywhere, including in the United States and Western Europe. And you’re supporting this; you’re supporting this in the Balkans, in Europe.
Trumpet: Let us ask you about Israel’s relationship with Turkey. How significant is this relationship to Israel’s security?
Ramati: It’s critical to Israel’s security at this moment…. The West kept Turkey out of the EEC [European Union], for reasons I cannot understand. It was a factor which is directly responsible for the rise of the Islamic Welfare Party in Turkey. [The West] didn’t understand that if they wanted to maintain a secular regime in Turkey, if they wanted to maintain a pro-Western regime in Turkey—because an Islam regime is going to be anti-Western—they had to put Turkey into the EEC when Turkey asked for it. And to have Turkey in NATO and not have it in the EEC is a slap in the face.
Now…the Syrians have been promoting Turkish terrorism inside Turkey. You’ve heard, probably, of the PKK. The PKK is a terrorist organization, an anti-Turkish terrorist organization, operating out of Syrian and Lebanese bases. The Turks realize that we are a factor that can neutralize Syria, for as long as we have the Golan Heights; they make that very, very clear. For as long as we have the Golan Heights—for as long as we are a military threat to Syria—we are of some use to Turkey, especially if we have leaders who are sufficiently courageous to side with Turkey when the chips are down.
Trumpet: What happens if that relationship is ever severed?
Ramati: …Why does Egypt, for instance, attack this alliance so much? Because they realize they cannot attack us for as long as this alliance exists. Why else should it matter so much to them? They know that for as long as this alliance exists, if Syria and Egypt attack us simultaneously, the Turks may attack the Syrians—and then the Turks are stronger than the Syrians—and we would be able to deal with Egypt alone, and then it’s not quite certain what the result would be; I don’t want to say that it is certain what the result would be, but we have a lot better chance.
Trumpet: The U.S. House of Representatives has produced a document saying the Arabs believe Israel doesn’t necessarily have the will to fight another war, or to continue this ongoing battle with the Arabs. Do you agree with that assessment? If there were to be another conflict in the Middle East, do you think Israel could muster enough will to fight? They certainly have the means, but do they have the will?
Ramati: This is the most difficult question you’ve posed to me this evening. I hope, yes. I hope, yes…. Now, also there are some discouraging things. Rabin and Peres said at one point—and when I heard this I nearly jumped out of my skin—they said… that Israel cannot afford to fight another war because there will be too many casualties in Tel-Aviv. And when I heard that comment, I commented to some of my friends that the country which is not ready to have 10,000 dead in Tel-Aviv in order to win a war has no right to exist…. I think war—rather than to surrender to Arab demands—is worth it for Israel—providing we can win.
Trumpet: Do you think Israel has the will to win?
Ramati: I’m not going to give you a definite answer. I can only express the hope that, yes.
Trumpet: What do you see for the future? Do you predict that there will be another war in the Middle East?
Ramati: Look, I am very much afraid that in the West, “Middle East peace” is a euphemism for us giving territory to the Arabs. They don’t really mean peace, they don’t even think it is going to be peace. They want us to give territory to the Arabs. They don’t care if there’s going to be peace. They care how much profit they’re going to make in the Gulf….
I don’t think peace between Israel and the Arabs is on the cards, except under one condition. I don’t think that a contractual peace, based on land-for-peace, has any chance at all, even assuming it can be signed….
But, to maintain a Jewish state in the Middle East, which is anathema to the Arabs, the one thing you need is a balance of power. You need them to be afraid of us, not us to be afraid of them. That is the key. They’ve got to be more afraid of us than we are of them, and then there is likely to be peace….
There will be a war in the Middle East—especially if there is a peace treaty. Even more especially if there is a peace treaty with Syria. It will not take very long either, because we will be totally indefensible if there is a peace treaty with Syria, on Syrian terms—and there will not be one on other terms. We will be indefensible, and if you’re indefensible, you’re more likely, not less likely, to be attacked. And the evaluation in the Arab states will be that the West will not come to our assistance, because of the West’s economic interest in the Arab states. And my evaluation also, is that the West will not come to our assistance….
I hope that if there is going to be a war, it will come at a time when we can still defend ourselves—because then we will have the guts, probably, to defend ourselves. If it comes at a time when it is obvious we cannot defend ourselves, God help us.