An Irrelevant Test of Intentions

Don't judge us according to the harsh consequences of our actions. What counts is our good intentions.

Every time an errant bomb that's launched to execute a Palestinian "wanted man" kills people who are obviously "innocent bystanders," mainly women and children, there is first an expression of heartfelt regret and then comes the time for self-righteousness. "As opposed to the Arabs," declares the defense minister - this time, Amir Peretz - "we do not deliberately target innocent civilians." As opposed to our neighbors, in our case the defense minister, known as "the man of peace," immediately appoints a special investigator to examine the "mishap" and to ascertain that a "tragedy" of this kind will not recur. Until the next time. In other words, don't judge us according to the harsh consequences of our actions. What counts is our good intentions.

Would an expression of regret help the heads of a Palestinian organization who sent a terrorist to blow himself up at a hitchhiking post for soldiers, if the schlemiel were to set off the bomb near a bus load of children? Would the test of intentions save him and the passersby from the revenge of the Israel Defense Forces? What Israeli judge would accept the defense of an activist of the military arm of Fatah, who claimed that his violent acts were meant to release his people from the Israeli occupation?

The cemeteries and prisons are full of thousands of Palestinian who are loyal to the two-state solution. For the goyim the only thing that counts is the test of results. The test of intentions is relevant only when it comes to Israelis.

However, when it suits our politicians, the test of intentions - which finds expression in deliberate policy - has nothing to do with the conflict. No one knows better than they do that if Israeli governments were to be examined according to their ongoing behavior in the territories over the past 40 years, they would be extremely lucky to get a grade of unsatisfactory.

The dozens of settlements that were established contrary to international law, some of them on private Palestinian land, cannot be considered an "errant bomb." This is a policy that is designed to annex parts of the West Bank to Israel. Outposts that were established on Palestinian land, with the assistance of government funding, are not "an unfortunate mistake." This is a method of turning a blind eye to the forcible establishment of facts on the ground.

If Israel is to be judged by its intentions, we cannot make do with the generous promises of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. His nice words are worthless when at the same time the Defense Ministry is expropriating more Palestinian land for the purpose of building another highway meant for Israelis only. The peace declarations of Foreign Ministry Tzipi Livni are of as much interest as the snows of yesteryear to the residents of Nablus, who are not allowed to visit their relatives in the Jordan Valley. Even our High Court of Justice, not to mention the International Court of Justice in The Hague, has ruled that the route of the fence deliberately serves to expand the settlements, under a camouflage of security considerations.

If the response to the acts of others should be based on their long-term intentions, rather than according to the consequences of an isolated mistake, it is not certain that Israel comes out ahead. An order that separates a Palestinian mother from her children living in Israel is not something unavoidable that stems from the need to fight terror. It is a "demographic policy." A law that denies compensation to Palestinians who are "innocent bystanders" and have become disabled because IDF soldiers do not respect the instructions for opening fire, is not a necessary consequence of "the situation." It is a cruel amendment to a law that was passed by a majority in Israel's Knesset.

There have been many other bad consequences with bad intentions behind them. The severance of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, and of hundreds of thousands of families from the sources of their livelihood, including withheld tax money, is not a divinely ordained law. It is the method chosen by the Israeli government to punish Palestinian children for the fact that a substantial percentage of their parents voted for Hamas.

It's a shame that people of conscience in Israel and the world over have fallen asleep on their watch and have grown accustomed to living with innumerable deliberate injustices that have become routine. It's a shame that they wake up only when one bomb misses its mark.