Murder Is Not Theater

During the second intifada, the Palestinian armed struggle killed more than 1,000 Israelis. That is neither theater nor child's play.

"Armed struggle theater" - that's the disparaging way Amira Hass referred to the armed Palestinian struggle ("Mahmoud Abbas' chronic submissiveness," October 5). That's the tone she usually takes on this issue: Palestinian fighting is depicted as a display with nothing much to it, much ado about nothing, certainly not something that can threaten Israel or justify harsh steps that might be justified if a real threat were involved.

Such descriptions are intended to persuade the Palestinians to adopt other means of struggle, chiefly the "popular struggle." However, they also avoid taking a clear moral stand against the intentional murder of civilians by the Palestinian terror groups - murder that is an inseparable and central part of their fighting method. Direct rejection of indiscriminate terror may be found in Hass' writing here and there, if you search well. But much more frequent is the belittling of Palestinian combat and the minimizing of its ill effects.

There is no practical justification for this scorn. During the second intifada, the Palestinian armed struggle killed more than 1,000 Israelis - more than the number of Israelis killed in the first and second Lebanon wars together, or in the Six-Day War, the War of Attrition or the Sinai Campaign. That is neither theater nor child's play.

A bus is not blown up for show. The balance of power between terror and guerrilla groups, and the state against which they are fighting, is not measured by the type of weapons at their disposal. That is a false presentation of the matter, contrary to all experience. Who does not know that terror and guerrilla groups (especially those that enjoy the support of states and powerful entities) fight effectively against modern armies and have defeated them more than once? On the one hand, we hear that the war against terror and guerrilla groups is lost from the outset. On the other, the "armed struggle" is presented as something that is not really dangerous. The conclusion in either case is the same: A terrorist must not be disturbed while doing his job.

How should a person whose attitude toward Israel is critical or negative relate to indiscriminate Palestinian terror? Perhaps we may take the example of Marek Edelman, the Bundist, one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, who died recently. All his life he was a staunch opponent of Zionism and a harsh critic of Israel and its policies. A few years ago he wrote an open letter to the Palestinian "partisans" - a name that angered many. However, Edelman did not tell the Palestinians that murdering civilians was "theater." Rather, he said it was a cruel crime that could not be justified under any circumstances. He wrote that the Warsaw Ghetto fighters never turned their weapons against a helpless civilian populace.

Here is an example of an ideological adversary of Zionism who takes a truly universal and moral stand, and does not hide behind tactical and aesthetic arguments. Neither was he influenced by the fashionable theory that "partisans" may do anything they want, and we must not censure any cruel act they commit because they are weak and oppressed. If these "enlightened" warrants for murder had no place in the Warsaw Ghetto, they have no place anywhere in the world.