Who comes first?
March 19, 2001
Again, at 6:15 this morning, the pagers started beeping: “A shooting attack near Neve Daniel. One person killed. The entire area is closed off. Preliminary details.”
What a way to wake up.
When the war started, almost 6 months ago, the enemy leadership decided on an important tactical move, designed to win public opinion internationally. They labeled their military actions “intifada.” What is an “intifada?” – It is generally thought of as an ‘uprising,’ and is associated with the ‘legitimate rights of the palestinian people for self-determination and an independent state.’ This goal, of course, justifies the use of violence, in the eyes of ‘the world.’ This violence, beginning in the early 1980’s, eventually led to Israeli surrender, in the form of Oslo, in 1994.
However, whenever anyone says the word “Intifada,” the immediate association is not of murderous violence, in the purest sense of the word. Rather, it is of….. rocks. Yes, rock-throwing. Ask people around the world, what does the word ‘intifada’ bring to mind and they will almost always say, “Arabs throwing rocks.” Rocks are not viewed as weapons, as objects that kill. Rocks, in the ‘Middle-East lexicon’ are a legitimate means of self-expression. Therefore, any use of lethal force to stop ‘rock-throwing’ is deemed illegitimate, an overt use of military force against ‘frustrated palestinian youth.’
This was Arafat’s strategy. Shoot the Jews, and call the war ‘intifada,’ thereby fooling the world media, and gaining international public opinion. (See http://www.hebron.org.il/pics/intifada.htm)
I have, for the past 6 months, been trying to explain to correspondents from around the world, that Arafat has not declared a new ‘intifada,’ rather he has declared war. Not a rock war – rather a shooting war. In many cases the media sneers at us, remarking, “that’s what you say – that’s not what THEY say.”
Now, I would like to call your attention to an article posted on Time magazine’s internet site a week ago, on March 12. The article is presented as a series of question and answers. The respondent is Time correspondent Jamil Hamad, an Arab from Bethlehem. How does he view the present violence?
“You have to understand that this is no longer about an intifada. Where are the marches and demonstrations, or the civil disobedience? It's gone; it's history now. Nobody is talking intifada. Bullets are talking; M-16s and Kalashnikovs are talking. But this is not an intifada.”
Finally, an Arab and I agree!! The article is titled “Why Sharon may outwit Arafat” and is worth reading. (See end of article or http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,102127,00.html)
Again, the point is, we are not talking about a rock war - we are dealing with a bullet war. True, a rock is also a lethal object. People have been killed by rocks. (Check any US state law code. What is the punishment for throwing a rock at a moving vehicle?) Yet, no one can dispute the fact that there is a difference between rocks and bullets. If my numbers are correct, somewhere in the vicinity of 70 people have now been murdered by Arafat’s armed forces in just under 6 months of warfare, a war which Israel’s leadership still refuses to recognize as just that, as a WAR.
Following Ariel Sharon’s victory, even prior to his taking office, the Israeli army began utilizing harsher measures against the warring forces, including an extremely tight closure of Arafat occupied cities. In order to prevent Arab vehicles from avoiding Israeli roadblocks, the closure included deep trenches dug around the cities. Once the closures were properly enforced, the terrorist attacks against Israelis came to an abrupt halt.
However, international pressure, mixed with demands of the Israeli left, together with the planned meeting between Ariel Sharon and George W. led to the government’s lifting of the closure. And the result was this morning’s murder of a man from the Efrat community.
The media and the Israeli left attacked the closure as ‘collective punishment’ against an ‘innocent peaceful population’. “Why should so many people be blamed and punished for the acts of a few extremists,” they ask, pointing a finger at the villainous Israeli decision-makers.
Unfortunately though, they do not point the same finger at the continuing incitement, broadcast over Arafat’s radio and television. The incitement, pounded into the heads of Arabs throughout Israel, is a never-ending source of violence, promising suicide bombers ‘a place in paradise for eternity.” As Gush Etzion mayor Shaul Goldstein said this morning, following the terrorist murder, “We don’t have to starve the Arabs. Fill trucks with food and medical supplies and send them into the Arab cities. Bombard them with as much food as they want.” But they must be closed in – because letting them out is synonymous with letting wild animals out of a cage. And the results speak for themselves.
True – there are Arabs who really are innocent and peaceloving. But, at the moment, they cannot be separated from the others – those who are killing Israelis – those who are participating in the war against Israel. As Jamil Hamad said, we are not talking about rocks, we are talking about bullets, we are talking about war. Arafat has declared war on Israel and, as has been determined by ‘free democratic elections,” and as recognized by the nations of the world, Arafat represents the so-called ‘palestinian people.’ They are, therefore, just as responsible as he is. As long as Arafat’s forces continue to kill Israelis, his ‘people’ cannot continue living normal, everyday lives. Israelis are dying. Those guilty must suffer too. It is impossible to distinguish between those who are ‘innocent’ and those who are ‘guilty.’ The question is, who deserves the first consideration – them or us?
Who comes first?