By Shimon Z. Klein

The tragedy of hate between Israelis and Palestinians results in death and tragedy on both sides. The violence in Gaza between Hamas and Fatah continues unabated. Even the fifth cease-fire between the two sides will not hold indefinitely. The weird result of all this is the firing of Qassam rockets into Sderot and the surrounding kibbutzim. What does Hamas hope to achieve by this? Is it a tactic to create a digression from the intrafraternal fighting, or is it an invitation to Israel to re-occupy Gaza so that they can blame the occupation for their woes? By doing this they will stir up anti-Israel feeling and create a semblance of unity amongst themselves.

The funeral processions are endless. Revenge and counter revenge! Revenge and counter revenge! Hate and counter hate continues unabated. The violence does not end.  Blood flows in the streets! Leaders on both sides watch impotently. Who is to blame? The blood of innocent people is crying for a solution, which is ever evasive to both sides of an eternal conflict over land and faith. The Israeli Air Force are carrying out pin point attacks on Hamas institutions in the hope of stopping the Qassam rocket fire into Israel.

The Palestinians claim that their human rights have been curtailed under Israeli occupation. The Israelis have to bear the full burden of the violence, which increases unabated and is becoming more and more uncontrollable. The hate and lack of trust is gaining ground rapidly. There does not seem to be an end in sight.

Many questions remain unanswered as to the cause of this violence. The Middle East is loosing its humanity and this applies to both sides. The Palestinians do have legitimate demands. The Israelis are the conquerors and the Palestinians are the vanquished. This is the result of many years of animosity since the establishment if the State of Israel. 

Perhaps one may be presumptuous and venture to theorize as to the cause of the ongoing violence. After the occupation of the West Bank in the Six-Day War, Israel became responsible for the vanquished population there. This population had been in severe poverty for many generations. The “foster parents” of this occupied Palestinian population is Israel because of its occupation. It is the responsibility of the conqueror to attend to the well being of the vanquished. The Palestinians were exploited by Israel.  Jewish Settlers were encouraged to buy homes and establish themselves amongst the Palestinian population. The Israeli government, over the years, established new settlements and pumped in lots of money. The settlers who arrived were religious fanatics and extreme right wing Zionists who usurped the land. They uprooted Palestinian olive plantations and took over the Palestinian farm lands.

Had the Israeli government not encouraged settlements in the occupied territories and rather used the money for establishing a viable socio-economic structure for the Palestinians, the situation today would not have reached such a tragic state.   

The Israeli government could have improved the living standards by encouraging oversea investments in the territories and thus employment of the Palestinian population in meaningful jobs with competitive salaries. Emphasis could have been made on education and training as well as providing security and health services of a reasonable standard. This would have been a better investment for Israel’s security rather than encouraging racist right wing religious Zealots from settling in the territories. Many of these settlers came from the United States and were total social misfits in the countries of their origin. When the time would be ripe in a peace settlement, then these territories could be handed over to a Palestinian people in an orderly fashion without such an escalation of violence. Hamas and the other extremist groups would not have survived had the territories been viable economically and the Palestinian population meaningfully employed.

There are claims that Israel had tried to improve the situation of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. This is a debatable point. There is no doubt that there are groups in the territories whose ideology is bent on Israel’s total destruction. The education of young children to hate Israel is an unfortunate part of the Palestinian educational curriculum. When the Palestinians are subjected to humiliation by the imported settler fanatics, how could one expect them to show tolerance for the settlers when Palestinian lands are forcibly taken away for illegal settlements?

The latest intifada started because of the rejection by Yasser Arafat of the Clinton-Barak proposals at Camp David for a solution to the Middle East Crises and the establishment of a Palestinian State in 2000. The fact that Arik Sharon had come to the Temple Mount with his supporters when he was leader of the opposition prior to his election was a catalyst for the second intifada. It was by no means the reason. It would have happened anyway. Tensions started running high between the two sides for a long time prior to that.

Arafat, at the time, could never sign an agreement with Israel. There is the feeling that had he signed the agreement with Israel, the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other fanatic Islamist groups would have assassinated him. He would have met the same fate as Anwar Sadat over 23 years ago. Despite the fact that Arafat was the elected leader of his people, the hate for Israel is so great that it is doubtful that had he signed, the situation may not have been any different.

We are now saddled with the most brutal forms of terrorism – the suicide bomber. There seems to be a consensus amongst Israelis that the only way to deal with this threat is by army action. If only there were moderate voices in both the Israel and Palestinian camps which would be heard. Both sides lack imaginative leadership, which could be involved in confidence building measures, so that peace negotiations could be started.

There is no doubt that a solution to the conflict is the establishment of an independent Palestinian State alongside Israel.  It is doubtful if that Palestinian State will be democratic in nature. The Arab States are not democratic, as this was never part of their leadership or philosophy. There is no reason to believe that a future Palestinian State will be any different. Our main concern as Israelis should not be the internal nature of that Palestinian State but rather its desire to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to live at peace with her.

We are all in need of good will and a desire on both sides to recognize one another and to strive for a Middle East that will be peaceful and stable economically. We all must make a new start despite the terrible bloodshed that this area has suffered. After all nobody has benefited from this tragic situation.


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