May 11, 2008 - In spite of the clear immorality of Palestinian terrorism, one still hears the refrain that "occupied people" have the right to "resist" by whatever means they have at their disposal.
So far the security fence and close monitoring of activity in the West Bank have dramatically decreased terrorist incidents originating from there.
There is one area where deadly terrorism continues and Israelis have been unable to stop it. This is the southern region, including the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon and other towns and villages.
This is also the region in which Israel took a dramatic step to end the occupation.
In the summer of 2005 Israel completely withdrew from every single settlement in Gaza. The result was a constant threat to Israeli security that continues to this day. Palestinians have launched thousands of rockets into population centers within southern Israel, causing several deaths, including very young children, and many more wounded. These attacks have become a virtual daily occurrence, traumatizing the population and driving out residents and businesses. With Iran's help, the Palestinians are increasing the range and power of their rockets, which are becoming steadily more lethal.
Palestine to Israel: This is what happens when you withdraw from occupied land.
Yet in spite of this untenable situation for Israel, world opinion still places the moral burden on Israel as ďoccupier" who must "end the occupation." The result is a classic catch-22:
Israel tried negotiating. Israel and the Palestinians came very close to a negotiated settlement at Camp David 2000. Yasser Arafat torpedoed the agreement. The peace that should have been, never became.
So the pressure is on Israel to "end the occupation now." Yet when Israel takes steps to do so, as it did in Gaza, it is accused of "unilateralism." Even worse, it finds itself in a much less secure position.
Do not get me wrong. Even though the occupation resulted from a war Israel had to fight to defend itself, I do not like it. I want it to end. I want both Israelis and Palestinians to have a place they can call their own, with the power to determine their own futures.
But given the present conditions, which include:
A Palestinian leadership that has not negotiated in good faith,
A Palestinian people increasingly radicalized by fanatic religious hatred, using their schools and media to transmit that hatred to their children,
A Palestinian leadership now openly committed to Israelís destruction as its sacred duty,
The Palestinians' acting not in isolation but as proxies for outside forces, notably Iran,
A clear Palestinian message to Israel that the more territory it cedes, the more violence will result and the less secure it will be,
Given these conditions, can I say the occupation is immoral and should be ended immediately?
No, I cannot. It is not immoral for Israel to protect the cities in its heartland from the rockets that a new and larger Palestinian terror state will fire on them.
And this is tragic, because it is not in Israelís interest to stay in the West Bank forever.
And yes, there is more that Israel could do. It could begin by fulfilling its commitment to dismantle the outposts that are illegal even under Israeli law. There is no excuse for Israelís failing to have done so.
Nevertheless, given the present impossible circumstances, these Israeli failings are hardly more than a side issue. When you have a gun pointed towards your head, and that gun is actually firing, you can hardly be expected to feel conciliatory.
So the big lie endures, and it is this:
The occupation is the cause of the conflict.
The Palestinians have sold this lie to the world, and the world has bought it. And accepting this lie is the surest way to prevent peace.
All the pressure in the world, if brought to bear on Israel alone, will never bring about peace. Because Israel cannot end the occupation if doing so will ensure its destruction. Israel cannot allow Tel Aviv and Haifa to suffer the fate of Sderot and Ashkelon.
The solution should be obvious: if there is ever to be an end to this conflict, international pressure must be brought to bear not only on Israel, but on the Palestinians as well. The Palestinians must receive a clear message that fanatical religious and ethnic hatred will not be rewarded, and that the persistence of terrorism will not be indulged.
This is not happening. The Palestinians have all kinds of excuses: they canít help it, they are "poor," they are "oppressed." They know the buzzwords that evoke international sympathy. None of that erases the fact that when you choose the qassam rocket over the peace table, you are making a conscious and deliberate decision.
So while Palestinians try to make increasing areas of Israel uninhabitable for Jews until they destroy it all, they cry that Israel is "ethnic cleansing," is committing a "holocaust." Can the irony of this really be lost on anyone? Will the world continue to infantilize the Palestinians, treating them as perpetually helpless victims, or will it treat them as adults, capable of making responsible decisions and overcoming their prejudices to make peace with the Jewish people living next door?
Do people really want this conflict to end? If so, be realistic. No country can be pressured into taking an action it has cause to believe would be suicidal. The occupation is not the reason the conflict persists. The immediate reason is the message that Palestinians are sending loud and clear: the less occupation, the more terror.
The Palestinians who are firing those rockets from Gaza have never said they will stop if Israel withdraws from the West Bank. They have vowed to continue until they have obliterated the "Zionist entity" and have "reclaimed their land," by which they mean every single acre from the river to the sea. This is what they say, even in their childrenís TV programs, and I believe them.
Peace will never happen without realism. And realism must begin with rejecting the big lie, before it shatters any hope of peace not just for Israelis and Palestinians but for the rest of the world as well.
Peace with Realism