"Surveying the great damage done to Ramallah," reader Bel Khano wrote to me this weekend, "I wonder what Israelis and the Israel Defense Forces think they achieved with their incursion." She points out that the funerals of the dead were accompanied by hundreds of weapons. So, she says, "If the IDF disarmed Palestinians, they collected only a fraction of those weapons available. If they dismantled bomb factories, there can be little doubt there will be others to take their place."
Her conclusion is that the incursions were "an act of sheer vandalism with the aim of terrorizing the local population into subjugation." And, she adds, "In this, it failed... It is about time to realize that Israel's brute force is only exacerbating the situation and what is needed is to give Palestinians their legitimate rights, with no further excuses."
If her words needed any support, it came with yesterday's terror attacks. It is difficult to understand how the settlers and their disciples from Betar, the right-wing movement named after Yosef Trumpeldor, refuse to understand, after so many years of occupation, that Trumpeldor's dying words that became the ethos, "It's good to die for our country," work both ways - and on both sides of the Green Line.
It's neither the guns, nor the "cities of refuge" that the "Oslo criminals" gave to the Palestinians that "brought the terrorists." The first intifada broke out in the days when the terrorist, excuse me, freedom fighter, Yitzhak Shamir was in power. Under the cover of the Madrid Process, the right wing deepened its creeping annexation and continued selling the illusion of "an enlightened occupation" to itself and the public.
The chilling images of Jewish soldiers in the childrens' rooms of homes in Ramallah should be cut out and saved. They are the last photos from the era of a deluxe occupation. The option to return to the deception of "coexistence" between the horse and its rider has been totally erased form the political map. Even the term "autonomy," which the state-owned radio station has begun using, is in the historical trash bin of the conflict.
Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz says the tanks and warplanes are "defending our home" (in other words, not the settlements) from Palestinian rifles. As everyone knows, people are ready to give up their lives to defend their homes. It would be interesting to know what Mofaz thinks people whose homes are raided and lands are expropriated will fight for. Maybe they are also "fighting for their home." Amazing! Arabs are ready to fight and even to die - and of course kill - for their homes, and even for liberty.
"We are actually winning every day," Mofaz declared on television. This distinction could be changed from an empty slogan into something real if the Israeli government proposed to those Mofaz is vanquishing an option other than conceding their homes. Such an option can't be promises of "painful concessions," or virtual declarations about honoring the Mitchell recommendations.
The result of nearly 18 months of fighting, hundreds of dead and thousands of wounded is that nowadays, there isn't a single Palestinian leader who is capable of ordering a cease-fire in return for anything less than a detailed timetable and international guarantees for an Israeli withdrawal to the Green Line.
From discussions with Palestinian Authority officials, it is possible to deduce that if we hurry, we could still get the sale price former U.S. president Bill Clinton proposed a little more than a year ago - with some territorial exchanges and without the demographic threat of the right of return. But there's no sign that the "change" in Sharon's policies includes a readiness to dismantle a single, solitary, isolated settlement in exchange for full peace with the entire Arab world. There is also no evidence that he has any argument with Shaul Mofaz, who is constantly claiming that "time is on our side."
With the transfer party out of the government, there is nobody left there with both the courage and honesty to do what Foreign Minister Shimon Peres likes to call "telling the people the truth." He has turned into the top salesman for virtual peace initiatives that don't end the occupation. Their guaranteed failure will convince the public that Rehavam Ze'evi, if not Meir Kahane, was right. No wonder the president of Egypt publicly warned Sharon against trying to send the Palestinians to Jordan.
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