Sunday, November 17, 2002

OK, I'm angry and I'm tired and I’ve got a headache. The little angel on my left shoulder says: "Imshin, go to bed. Leave it for tomorrow". The little devil on my right shoulder says:

"With whom exactly are we to make peace?"
Iran supports Islamic Jihad and Hamas by pouring in millions of dollars to fund their activities.

While Friday night's Hebron attack, funded and aided by Iran, was taking place, representatives of Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, were giving out $10,000 each to four families of men killed by the IDF in a special ceremony in another part of the city. According to the IDF, these men were on their way to perpetrate a terrorist attack. The Palestinians claim they were innocent laborers.

Following Friday night's attack, celebrations took place in the Gaza strip. Palestinians took to the streets to express their delight at the great success.

So you want us to evacuate Hebron Jewish quarter do you? You think this is the right time? You think it'll give the Palestinians the right message? You think this will prove to them and to the world that this war is not about the territories, not about colonialism? I don’t think you’ve thought it out right to the end. Think about the victory celebrations; think about the feelings of pride in the hearts of Palestinians at the great military victory; think about the surge of motivation for more carnage and more attacks in the hope of more such successes.

The problem with the Palestinians is not that they are hopeless and depressed. The problem is that they're not hopeless and depressed enough to stop the carnage and make peace. They still believe they're on the right track. And as long as they continue to feel this way, they will see no reason to stop the attacks or prevent them. If they see tangible results, they really will have no reason to stop the attacks or prevent them.

You know I believe in evacuating the permanent Jewish presence in Hebron, and all the other settlements that are not part of, or adjacent to, large population centers (in return for unpopulated areas), but not until the time is right.

The time will not be right until the Palestinians have fully understood a few things. One of them is why we are here. I believe in evacuating Hebron, I believe in painful compromise in Jerusalem, but the Palestinians must accept and respect our deep connection to Jerusalem and Hebron and other places of religious meaning to the Jews. Many Jews already accept and respect the deep connection of Moslems to these places. Those Jews who don’t must also learn to respect and accept the beliefs of their neighbors. But Peace cannot mean we Jews give up all our beliefs and bow down to those of the Moslems. Peace means mutual respect and understanding.

For peace to be possible, Palestinians must make an effort to understand, accept and respect that Jews have a history in this land too, and that large parts of it are held dear by Jews as places of pilgrimage and worship, and that even if they are evacuated by Israel, Jews must be allowed free access and worship rights in them. Only when they accept that we are not a foreign entity in this area, but as much a part of it as them, will peace, real peace, be possible.

We'll probably come to some sort of agreement with them before that happens (or hell freezes over, which may happen first). Until such an agreement is signed and implemented – heavily reinforce the police presence in Hebron. Make sure the settlers there behave themselves or throw the book at them. Enough pussyfooting around them. Enough double standards. Arrest without bail for settlers involved in shootings, beatings, not to speak of killings. Serious prison sentences for the offenders. Expel families of those who mistreat their Arab neighbors. No more sending children out to create havoc. If a ten year-old settler (not liable to criminal law in Israel) kicks over the stall of an Arab, destroying his merchandise, hold his parents responsible and expel the whole family from Hebron, immediately. I think the settlers there will soon learn to live in peace with their neighbors, if not because they are capable of respecting fellow human beings, then because they are forced to.

But no evacuation under fire. No wholesale pictures of Jews being yanked out of their homes, as Diane puts it, while Arab neighbors cheer and jeer, if we’re lucky, and shoot, if we’re not. Evacuation of settlements – yes. As part of a real, meaningful peace agreement, one that respects both sides’ religious beliefs, among other things.

Bish believes the Palestinians are at the end of their tether; that they are close to breaking point; that what we are doing to them may be cruel, but it is effective and it is working. I hope he’s right. Oh, I do so hope he’s right.