I have been reading with horror of the five latest Hamas/Islamic Jihad bombings in Israel. These militants are really political Luddites who reject a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict no matter what shape it might take. According to their twisted logic, the worse the Israeli leader for the Palestinians, the better off it is for them in the long run. Because a brutal, callous and inhumane leader (as Netanyahu was and Sharon is) will show the worst face of Zionism. And the worse the face Zionism shows, the more likely the Palestinians will be to realize their maximalist goals. If you follow this tortuous thinking, then you understand the monstrous brutality and bankruptcy of all forms of international terrorism, not just for the victims but for those the terrorists claim to be benefiting.
If you look at the incidences of suicide bombings within Israel proper, you will see that the vast share happen only when there appears to be a serious possibility of a negotiated settlement between the two sides. After all, during the 1998 (?) election campaign between Peres & Netanyahu, Palestinian suicide bombings caused a catastrophic decline in Peres’ political fortunes and he lost. Exactly what the Palestinian terrorists wanted: no peace. The terrorists preferred Netanyahu as Prime Minister, even though they knew that Palestinian misery would be much higher than if Peres had won. Their motto is the opposite of the old slogan: “peace at any price.” It is “Peace Never—no matter what the price.”
During the present Sharon government’s tenure, even with the massive misery caused by Israeli attacks, curfews & border closures–suicide bombings have been relatively few and far between (within the Green Line). The Israelis have trumpeted their increasing ability to prevent terrorist attacks through intelligence and anti-terrorist operations. But I wonder. It’s certainly no accident that the attacks over the past few days coincide with the announcement of the latest peace plan, the Road Map. While it appears that Ariel Sharon would not have let the Road Map happen through his own intransigence; Hamas and their cohorts didn’t want to leave anything to chance. They’re trying to “help” Sharon make the decision to end the latest round of potential peacemaking.
We cannot forget, of course, that the bombings are also a terrible message to Abu Mazen, who appears to be a Palestinian leader who might actually WANT to make peace with Israel. “If you negotiate with the enemy we will make your life and the lives of the Israelis a living hell.”
When will leaders on both sides finally say an absolute No to the terrorists? “We will make peace; we will do it right now; and we will do it no matter what bitter dishes of terrorist mayhem the militants can prepare.” Perhaps this is an unrealistic expectation and what really needs to happen first is for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to be extirpated by Palestinian security services under Dahlan’s control (would that this might happen).
What needs to happen regarding the Palestinian militants is precisely what happened in pre-1948 Jewish Palestine. Both Begin’s Irgun & Ben Gurion’s Palmach anticipated an upcoming war against the Arabs once the British ended the Mandate. So Begin tried to import a boatload of weapons on the Alta Lena. Ben Gurion found out about this shipment and ordered it confiscated, at the mouth of a gun if necessary. When the ship docked, the Palmach interceded forcefully and the mini-crisis ended. The Irgun tacitly accepted the military primacy of the Palmach in fighting the upcoming battle against the Arabs.
What Abu Mazen needs is a Palestinian Alta Lena incident. He needs to show force against his militants, perhaps he needs to do even more than that. But this, it seems, is the only way to end the power of the Nyet that the militants seem to exercise whenever a real chance for peace comes along.