Friday, August 19, 2005


The footage of Jewish families in Gaza being torn from their homes by Jewish soldiers is truly heartwrenching, no doubt about that. Unfortunately, I'm aware of no similar footage of Jewish soldiers tearing Palestinian Arab families from their homes in 1948 and 1967. I can, however, pretty much guarantee that the soldiers in those instances neither knocked nor pleaded politely with the residents to leave.

A few commentators have suggested that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza will show whether the Palestinians are truly ready for self-government. Max Boot sets up a transparently false test:
For almost 40 years, the conceit has been growing around the world that Palestinian terrorism can be explained and even excused by Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This was always a dubious proposition in light of the fact that Arabs have been fighting Israel since its formation in 1948, not since its conquest of those territories in 1967. The Palestine Liberation Organization began its attacks while the West Bank was still part of Jordan and Gaza was part of Egypt.

Now the Israeli decision to remove its settlers from the Gaza Strip and a small portion of the West Bank should provide a further test of the belief that Jewish settlements are the root cause of this conflict. If this were in fact the case, you would expect that a partial pullout would lead to at least a partial melting of Arab hostility toward the Jews. Maybe this will occur; and maybe the Gaza Strip will overnight become as peaceful as Switzerland.

I know of few people who have claimed "Jewish settlements are the root cause of this conflict." They are certainly a major factor, and it is likely that the evacuation of the settlements and the military presence which was required to secure them will result in some relaxing of tensions among Palestinians, but the test that Boot is constructing is obviously designed to fail. The Palestinians of Gaza have been occupied and brutalized by the IDF for 38 years; that they will not have a Jeffersonian democracy within weeks, or that the hatred of Israel among fanatical elements will not lessen, does nothing to disprove the notion that the settlements were (and remain, in the West Bank) an impediment to peace.

And then Charles Krauthammer (in a column that would have more appropriately been titled How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Qassam):
Israel should announce that henceforth any rocket launched from Palestinian territory will immediately trigger a mechanically automatic response in which five Israeli rockets will be fired back. There will be no human intervention in the loop. Every Palestinian rocket landing in Israel will instantly trigger sensors and preset counter-launchers. Any Palestinian terrorist firing up a rocket will know that he is triggering six: one Palestinian and five Israeli.

Israel would decide how these five would be programmed to respond. Perhaps three aimed at the launch site and vicinity and two at a list of predetermined military and strategic assets of the Palestinian militias.

That's right Chuck, all those Arabs understand is force. How's it been working for the last 40 years? Considering that one of the goals of terrorism is to incite a disproportionate response which will then rally more people to your cause, Krauthammer's Lil' Doomsday Plan would seem to be playing right into the terrorist's hands.

And then:
The Gaza withdrawal is not the beginning but the end. Apart from perhaps some evacuations of outlying settlements on the West Bank, it is the end of the concession road for Israel. And it is the beginning of the new era of self-sufficiency and separation in which Israel ensures its security not by concessions but by fortification, barrier creation, realism and patient waiting.

Waiting for the first-ever genuine Palestinian concessions. Waiting for the Palestinians to honor the promises -- to recognize Israel and renounce terrorism -- that they solemnly made at Oslo and brazenly betrayed. That's the next step. Without it, nothing happens.

The first-ever genuine Palestinian concessions. Think about that for a moment. How about giving up half of their country? How about living under military occupation for 38 years? How about having their homes bulldozed to make way for "defense perimeters" around illegal settlements, or to make way for a "separation barrier", or in retaliation for their second cousin who they hadn't seen in months blowing himself up on a bus? None of that counts for anything? Any cursory examination of either the Oslo or Wye River agreements shows that the Palestinians have conceded rather a lot in pursuit of a viable state in their own homeland. It's probably not to my credit that I'm still surprised by the amount and intensity of ahistorical bunk coming out of people like Krauthammer in regards to Israel, but I am.

p.s. Here's Arafat's letter recognizing Israel. Someone forward it to Charles.

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