The Conflict Reloaded

It's time we understood that the Palestinian terrorism and the deceptions and procrastination of the unchanging Sharon are not a temporary state of affairs. This is our life and this is how it's going to be - today, tomorrow and in the entire foreseeable future.

It's a lot more than plain old deja vu: the Palestinian terrorism, which erupts with double and quadruple murderous intensity when a tiny crack toward a political process appears; the deceptions and procrastination of the unchanging Sharon; the bluffs and winks of the indestructible Arafat; the high alerts; the sigh of relief at the rejection of another threatening hudna; the scornful disdain of both sides for every idea and plan, as though they were being served a putrid dish, without their having any better idea than to murder each other until they burn the lesson into each other's consciousness; the ritual discussion about "expelling Arafat" with its standard conclusion: "Not for the time being."

Well, what else? That's all we need - for someone to change one iota of the ritual. Otherwise how will we conduct the next round in the matrix of our lives - the matrix that's constantly being reloaded and that replays all its details and nuances?

So it's more than just plain old deja vu. Because not only has it been "seen before" in the past - it will also be seen the same way in the future, over and over: the terrorism; the liquidations; the deceptions, bluffs and winks; the high alerts; the assessments of Military Intelligence about Arafat who's growing stronger / growing weaker / growing irrelevant / pulling all the strings / to expel him / to preserve him ...

It's time we understood that this is not another temporary state of affairs. This is our life and this is how it's going to be - today, tomorrow and in the entire foreseeable future. The polls, too, show that the public, in its despair, supports a leadership that is offering only one course: maintenance of the nightmarish, recurring situation, in the hope that things won't get any worse.

So this is how we will live from now on. No more glimmers of hope, good faith and daring leaps, but eternal wallowing in the recycled junk heaps of our lives. A life of despair, from one day to the next, from one terrorist attack to the next, from one liquidation to the next. In the words of Morpheus - one of the heroes of "The Matrix" who deals with the shattering of the sense of the concrete and with the deceptive illusions of the virtual: "Welcome to the desert of the real."

But what is this parched "real" and "sober" that is offering us "release from illusions" - the illusion of "Oslo," the illusion of the "Green Line," even the illusion of the "separation fence" - in which "not knowing is happiness"? Surely we get the answer day after day: in the terrorist attacks, in the despair, in the economic collapse. After all, following two and a half years, all the conceptions of "anti-Oslo" have disintegrated - no less, and with even greater destructive power, than the conceptions of "Oslo" did.

What did we gain from the conceptions of "staying power" and "no to the fence" and "no negotiations under fire," which have cost us nearly 800 people killed in terrorist attacks, if in the final analysis, they brought us to the same idea of a Palestinian state and to the "road map," which is "worse than Oslo" (as cabinet Minister Uzi Landau has said)? And what came out of all the efforts of "consciousness-burning," which in essence only heightened the motivation of the Palestinians (as Chief of Staff Ya'alon admitted)? And what was the use of demonizing and isolating Arafat if this "strengthened him" (as the director of Military Intelligence testified)? And where did the expectation of the redeeming war in Iraq get us, if we are being inundated by a new tsunami of terror by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al-Qaida?

Even the expectation that global terrorism would "buttress Israel's case" has gone up in smoke, as it turns out that it is precisely worldwide terrorism that is making it difficult for even our friends to understand the wacky Sharon settlements rationale - the rationale that attempts to capitalize on terror by annexing territories and establishing more settlements.

Whereas the abominable "architects of Oslo" at least recognized their mistakes and were open to new directions, the series of colossal failures of the "disillusioned Oslo" types isn't making them stop for a moment to think again, let alone come up with a new idea. On the contrary: In the spirit of the well-known saying of George Santayana, "Fanaticism consists in redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim," both Sharon's Israel and Arafat's Palestinians are clinging more powerfully than ever to a ritual dance of inertia like two obsessive madmen, the one afflicted with a mental illness called terrorism, the other with an equally irrational craze known as the momentum of settlements.

Indeed, there is nothing that defines this better than two conflicting - actually, nearly symmetrical - descriptions that appeared recently in the press. The one, attributed to "security sources," described how Arafat convenes "late-night consultations in the Muqata," and added that "it's thought that he is planning terrorist attacks down to the last detail," with the aid of maps. The second report, attributed to "a source with a firsthand knowledge of the twisted course by which outposts are established," described how Ariel Sharon has met "in late-night weekly sessions, aided by maps," with Ze'ev "Zambish" Hever, director-general of the Amana settlement movement and one of the leaders of the settlers: "It's thought that in the overwhelming majority of cases he [Sharon] is an active partner in deciding the plans for the location and timing of establishing the outposts."

True, "there is no comparison," and so on. Still, what we can learn from this is why, every time the conflict seems to be getting near its end, it is always reloaded. And we can also get an idea about how long this will go on.