"Why aren't Israeli troops in the fight?" is rife with dangerous naivete. It defies logic to believe that an Israeli military component in Arab lands would be constructive. The presence of Israeli troops would outrage local elements and thereby endanger American troops.

Israel's military and strategic partnership with America is an essential factor in protecting our troops, even allied Arab troops, in the war against fanaticism. Israeli intelligence on the workings of terrorist organizations is indispensable. Joint U.S.-Israeli training exercises and Israeli military and scientific developments are also essential.

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There are some who think America would be safe from atavistic Middle Eastern groups were it not for the existence of Israel. This is simply another example of dangerous naivete. Like America, Israel represents modernity in a large swath of the Earth where despots too long ruled, where illiteracy and poverty are rampant, and where far too many live under the oppression of superstition and ancient hatreds. Let us not forget that democracy is the avowed enemy of those who attacked us on September 11 and those who delight in the cowardly and primitive slaughter of the defenseless.

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And let us not demean Israel, our strategic democratic ally in the world's most treacherous neighborhood.

Charles Lavine, Glen Cove

Editor's note: The writer represents the 13th Assembly District in Albany and is the president of the New York chapter of the National Association of Jewish Legislators.