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Sludge Report #68
The Meaning Of Terror
Is it more terrifying to be killed by a suicide bomber or by a tank-shell, or by a bomb, or by a bullet as you drive your car to work? Does any means of violent death make you more dead than the other?
Since the latest Intifada began Sludge has always been interested to listen to the justifications given by ordinary Israelis for the military and security actions of their government.
The main line of the Israeli justification is the same now as it has throughout – “as soon as the Palestinian’s stop the attacks then it will all be over. It’s not us, it’s them.”
This morning a New Zealander living in Israel repeated the justification in an interview on National Radio. “What other response can there be to terror?” he said, “we want peace, but the Palestinians won’t stop the terror. As soon as the terror stops, negotiations can begin.” He might as well have been quoting Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres on the beeb.
But who is terrorising who?
Is it any more terrifying to be living in a suburb on the outskirts of Jerusalem or in a Gaza Strip refugee camp?
At times the more liberal elements in this conflict have conceded that Israel has to be the one to make the first gesture in this battle as they, theoretically at least, have better disciplined forces.
The Jordan/Egyptian plans are essentially based around this idea, an Israeli withdrawal from sensitive areas, followed by a period of “grace” – during which Palestinian violence stops – and then negotiations can begin.
And just such a formula has been agreed to on numerous occasions in past months.
But whenever there seems to be a hope of peace – as there was recently when the Mitchell Report was first presented to the warring parties, and back at the end of April when the Egyptian/Jordan initiative began – something awful happens. Either accidentally or intentionally, someone is killed, often horribly, and all bets are off again.
The stoning of two teenagers in a cave. The “accidental” attack on Palestinian negotiators on their way home from ceasefire liason discussions with the Israelis. The death of 10 month old baby by sniper fire. The “accidental” shooting of Palestinian police officers in their beds.
And, as Sludge described in Report #53 on March 12th, for Israel, in these circumstances there is no way out.
“(From Sludge Report #53) Decades of Israeli military and diplomatic thought (if you can call it that) has conditioned all involved in this tragedy to understand, indeed know, exactly what will happen next:
Phase 1 - PROVOCATION
- This phase is already underway. Pressure is being brought on Palestinian communities. They are being blockaded into their villages and settlements, tanks at the door. Unable to attend school. To shop. To work. The rights of 10s of thousands of Palestinians to move - and to get to where there is food - are being suppressed. The intention of this phase is provocation.
Phase 2 - RETALIATION
- Someone, Hamas, Hezbollah or Palestinian, it matters not whom, will become sufficiently alarmed about the Israeli blockade that they will fight back. A bomb will be detonated in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Gaza - it matters not where. Maybe another bus driver will become enraged and run over another bus stop. People will die.
Phase 3 - REVENGE/WRATH
- With fresh Israeli blood to avenge Ariel Sharon will have his trigger point. He will unleash his dark side. An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, will be his word, just as it has been Ehud Barak's. Israel's military response under Sharon will be audacious and spectacular, and very well reported on CNN. And if Ariel Sharon - the war-criminal of old - is true to his form he will kill lots of innocent women and children in the process.”
It was always simply a matter of time, once the hardline Sharon had been elected.
He was elected for a reason and as the Kiwi in Jerusalem points out, his views are hardly unfashionable among his people.
And now we are now in a cycle involving phases two and three, seemingly trapped as the violence escalates.
Simply because the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this column is no.
There is no difference between a bomb launched from an F16 and one detonated with thumbs and in the midst of prayers. Both kill family members, both kill children, both wound, both maim, both arrive by surprise and both strike indiscriminately.
All the people of Israel and Palestine, on both sides, are being terrorised. Equally.
So if you haven’t started already, it is now time to start praying that these two crazy peoples learn to have a little empathy one for another. Clearly a miracle is required.
Anti©opyright Sludge 2001
SLUDGE FULL COVERAGE - THE MILLENNIUM INTIFADA
Sludge Report #53 - Waiting For The Trigger Point
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon now has his Cabinet in place, and the real aftermath of the disastrous election result of February 6th is now upon us. It is hard to be anything other than extremely pessimistic about what the future holds.
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Sludge Report #32 - Resolving A Family Feud
Sludge Report #24 - Jerusalem and Jeremiah
Edition: Dover Samuels - And did those feet in ancient
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