Saturday, June 12, 2004

The Sting
The worst thing about being taken for a ride isn’t the material loss, even if that loss is very great. It’s the humiliation, the stinging insult that is so unbearable, so painful. The victim presents the swindler with his most precious, closely guarded treasure, his trust, only to have it abused, trampled on, ridiculed. It’s a strong person that doesn’t turn bitter as a result.

Arafat’s masterful scam comes to mind.

And I realize, in amazement, that I am impressed at my country’s ability to swallow the insult, to a great extent, and react in a relatively careful and measured fashion. It may not look that way from where you’re sitting, in front of your computer screen, but it certainly does from here. You see I am the victim and I feel the sting. You don’t, so you can’t understand, just as Europe cannot understand the sting of 9/11. Not yet anyway.

We have the power to crush the Palestinians like so many ants. Angry people can’t think straight. They don’t consider the results; they don’t take the implications into account. In their anger and hatred, they take revenge, even if the end is ‘Let me die with the Philistines’. [Samson’s exclamation as he pulled down the Philistines temple, with what was left of his strength, killing himself along with his enemies - Judges, 16, 30]

And sadly, this is what the Palestinians have been doing. It’s pathetic. I’m sorry for them. But in their humiliation, their anger and aggression are being directed at the wrong target. They should be turned towards the real cause of their terrible malady, towards the main reason that they are not busy right now with the exciting endeavor of building their brave new sovereign state. I’m talking about Arafat. The Master Swindler. He didn’t just take us for a ride.

We have the power to crush the Palestinians and yet we don’t. You’re right, their lives are awful; they exist on a continuum of poverty, degradation and danger; they can be killed by a stray bullet, theirs or ours; making a decent living is nearly impossible; their freedom of movement is severely constricted; many of our young soldiers behave very badly towards them. And there’s more.

But it’s nothing to what we could do, and probably would, if we were in the business of revenge, not self-defense. And it’s nothing to what anyone else would do, especially the Palestinians themselves, if they were in our shoes.

You may say that that is no excuse. No it isn’t. The only acceptable explanation is self-defense. And that is exactly what it is. We are effectively fighting vicious, hate-filled, unrelenting, bloodthirsty terrorism as humanely as we possibly can. It may not be humane enough for you. But if it were in your back yard, you would very likely feel very differently. Maybe if it were, you would also be impressed with our ability, and willingness, to swallow the sting.