Peace with Realism

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Terrorism: Whose Responsibility?

To be fair to the Sanders, they do denounce Palestinian terrorist attacks, as well as violence of any kind. However, even while finding no justification for Palestinian terrorism, they still manage to blame it on Israel.

In numerous places they repeat the accusation that Ariel Sharon caused the murderous Al Aqsa Intifada (which has lasted now for three years) by his visit to the Temple Mount in September 2000:

Over the past two and a half years in the West Bank, we've received many phone calls and e-mails asking some variation on the question, "When are you coming home?" When violence erupted in response to Ariel Sharon's provocative Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif visit, we were asked.(10)

It is at the feet of the Palestinians that the US Congress has laid the blame for the current uprising, while the world knows that Ariel Sharon ignited the spark.(11)

What began as a response to Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem (labeled "calculated provocation" by the BBC, in light of the sensitive issue of the city's sovereignty) has spread to clashes throughout Gaza, the West Bank, and now into Israel.(12)

The assertion that Arafat is in control of the situation is inconceivable. The fact that Palestinian leaders predicted violence if Sharon visited the Temple Mount does absolutely not mean that they were in control of the protest. Many people all around the world were disturbed by Sharon's intentions and many made the same predictions. The resulting protests and violent expressions of anger were clearly (at least according to almost all accounts from observers) a disorganized mob scene.(13)

It is amazing how the Sanders can be so certain of something that simply isn't so. Evidence exists that the Palestinians planned the violence in advance and used Sharon's visit as a pretext. Even the Mitchell Fact-Finding Committee reports that while Sharon's Temple Mount visit was poorly timed, it did not cause the uprising. Sharon's greatest mistake was to give the Palestinians an excuse to blame Israel for violence that was the Palestinians' complete responsibility. And now this so-called "disorganized mob scene" has erupted into a full-scale war. Certainly this is too much to hang on Sharon's visit, which caused no violence to anyone.

Moreover, blaming Sharon for the violence makes what the Palestinians did, including heaving stones on Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall, sound excusable. There can be no moral justification even for allowing such an implication to stand. The Sanders attribute more responsibility for these attacks to the convenient excuse Sharon unwittingly provided than to the actual perpetrators of the violence. So much is so often made of Sharon's visit that we may forget to balance it against the reality of what actually took place that day. The Palestinian response to the Clinton/Barak offer of peace was to attack more Jewish civilians, and those attacks have continued their dramatic escalation for the past three years.

The Sanders use the death of an Israeli baby girl to find another excuse to blame Israel for Palestinian terror:

No doubt you heard about the tragic shooting that happened March 26. Ten month-old Shalhevet Pass, infant daughter of Israeli settlers, was murdered by a sniper from the Palestinian Abu Sneineh neighborhood of Hebron…

Unfortunately, we fear that the lesson that most people around the world will take from Shalhevet's death is not one pointing to the tragic results of the conflict. People will not think also of the scores of other dead children, almost exclusively Palestinian…. But the truth is that the Palestinian who murdered that girl was imitating what his Israeli oppressors have been doing on a much grander scale - but with no less brutality, cruelty, or terror….

This shooting happened just as this Intifada's non-violent resistance was blossoming.(14)

This charge that the Palestinian shooter was merely "imitating" the actions of his Israeli "oppressors" makes it sound like the Palestinians got their violent ideas from the Israelis. It fails to hold the terrorist to account for his own actions. And it accuses Israel of the same kind of terrorism "on a much grander scale." This is a serious slander. Unlike the Palestinians, Israelis do not routinely snipe at civilians, especially children. In the very exceptional cases where isolated Israeli extremists have plotted actions against Palestinian civilians they were arrested and prosecuted (see notes for next section).

Palestinian murders of Jewish children are intentional and widespread, even encouraged by some Palestinian leaders. Meanwhile the Palestinian Authority refuses to arrest and prosecute the terrorists. There is simply no moral equivalence between the two sides, let alone greater Israeli involvement in this kind of terrorism. The Sanders' incredible distortion of reality clearly raises the question of anti-Jewish bias. Once again, the Sanders do not advocate violence and do not defend Palestinian terrorism. They only blame it on Israel.

One may also wonder what the Sanders can possibly mean by the "blossoming" of "this Intifada's non-violent resistance." "This Intifada" was violent from the day it began, when after Sharon's visit Palestinians shot Israeli policemen and stoned Jewish worshipers. The Sanders wrote these words on March 29, 2001. Just one day earlier three people were killed and four injured in a suicide bombing at a bus stop in central Israel.(15) On the same day, two other bombing attacks were barely averted in Netanya and Petah Tikva.(16) By this time the Palestinian terror campaign was in full swing, and many such incidents had occured.(17) This is the "blossoming" of "non-violent resistance"? It seems the Sanders are so intent on indicting Israel that they are willing to fabricate history.

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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:
Peace with Realism