All my heart and sympathy go out to Israelis who’ve suffered yet another terror attack yesterday in Netanya at the hands of Islamic Jihad. This time four Israelis and the bomber were killed. An absolutely heroic security guard pinned the bomber to a wall while two police officers (one of them pregnant) ran to his aid. The bomber smiled (according to Robert Rosenberg) as he pushed the detonator. They all died with him. Imagine the unfathomable bravery of a pregnant woman rushing toward danger and cruel death instead of away from it. They are all great souls. May they enjoy eternal rest. May their families be comforted.
You’ll note that Hamas, eager to do well in upcoming Palestinian elections, has scrupulously avoided terror attacks during the tahdiye (or “lull”). Islamic Jihad is boycotting the elections and so has no compunctions and no investment. Does this tell us something about the value of drawing militants into the electoral process (if they’re willing to join it, that is)?
I recall that after Yitzhak Rabin’s 1995 assassination, when Shimon Peres ran in his own right as prime ministerial candidate of Labor, Palestinian militants also waged a merciless barrage of lethal attacks. This period was one of Peres’ infamous political ‘folds’ when he lost yet another election. Netanyahu won that one and inaugurated one of the worst prime ministerships on record in which he fatuously retreated into absolute impassivity.
I pray that any Palestinian who truly wants peace will do whatever he or she can to quell these murderous attacks. Suicide bombings not only fuel the candidacies of Sharon and Netanyahu. They siphon votes away from Peretz and Labor and guarantee the major campaign theme will become security, rather than Labor’s bread and butter, social and economic issues. [UPDATE: In fact, Haaretz publishes a December 7th poll indicating that Labor’s share of the vote (were it held today) would garner 22 seats as opposed to the 26 seats of last week’s poll. Sharon’s and Netanyahu’s parties each increased their shares.] If the militants want to destroy the political chances of the only Israeli leader who really wants a viable Palestinian state–who really wants to proceed directly to final status negotiations (something PA officials also desperately want), who wants to end the Occupation and withdraw from most settlements–then Islamic Jihad can do no better than continuing the attacks. But for Palestinian society to fail in stifling Islamic Jihad’s suicidal (literally and figuratively) militancy is to invite a hardline Israeli victory, the possible collapse of any prospects for peace, and a new and even more punishing (for both sides) intifada.