Monday, October 14, 2002
Poor, misunderstood Palestinians: So sayeth the Union-Tribune's James Goldsborough in his Monday column.
While making some well-considered points regarding the recent 10-day siege of Arafat's compound by Israeli forces, Goldsborough systematically ignores the plight of Israeli civilians who face suicide bomb attacks on an almost-daily basis.
Not only is America nearing the brink of war with Iraq, but Israel has been given carte blanche to invade and re-occupy Palestinian lands. The killing of Palestinians, the destruction of their homes and society continues on a daily basis, the groundwork for the retaliation that inevitably comes.
Let's rewind a couple of years. The Palestinians start the current war by sending suicide bombers whose goal is to kill Israelis -- civilian or military. Israel retaliates by attacking Arafat's "security forces," (which was larger than allowed under the Oslo accords) Hamas and Hezbollah cells being sheltered inside Arafat's Palestinian Authority.
Goldsborough assumes that the Israelis started this! Such a short memory in a syndicated columnist is disappointing. Of course, the rest of Goldsborough's column is perfectly understandable if you make that plainly false assumption.
Last week, 16 Gaza Palestinians were killed and 100 injured by a missile fired from a U.S.-made Apache gunship into a crowded neighborhood. It was a near carbon copy of the attack on a Gaza apartment house by a U.S.-made F-16 in July, killing 15 and wounding 100.
"We're sorry," said Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in July.
"I am always sorry if there are injured civilians," said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week.
Goldsborough isn't intending to make this point, but he does. While the Israelis have undoubtedly made some poor decisions when it comes to attempting to kill or capture terrorists, they are sorry when civilians get killed. You don't see that same concern from Arafat or any other Palestinian leaders.
In withdrawing both America's moral voice and its political muscle from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Bush has given Sharon free rein. If Bush takes America to war against Iraq, the Palestinian struggle for a national homeland free of Israeli occupation could be set back generations.
That is what Bush's neoconservatives want, but are they wrong? If Sharon uses Bush's Iraq obsession to crush Palestine, how does that serve either U.S. or Israeli interests in the long run? Opposing war in 1967, Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol said, "nothing will be settled by military victory. The Arabs will still be here."
Is Goldsborough living in a post-9/11 world?
Sharon is dealing with terrorists. If the Palestinians truly wanted a homeland they had it in the waning days of the Clinton administration. The simple fact that Arafat walked away from Ehud Barak's offer, exposes the lie of a Palestinian state existing beside Israel in peace.
Instead, Arafat chose this guerilla war. Goldsborough seems to suggest that if the Israelis would just "be nice," then there would be peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Hutus and Tutsis, Cats and Dogs.
In this alternate universe does it rain doughnuts?
By eliminating Saddam and strengthening Sharon, peace will be easier say Bush's neoconservatives.
More likely is that an American onslaught on Baghdad, one likely to cost thousands of civilian lives, will have the effect of destabilizing friendly Arab regimes, creating a reaction of violent despair among Palestinians and re-energizing terrorists against America.
Goldsborough really doesn't keep up with the news. Osama bin Laden's beef with the United States was over our military forces based in Saudi Arabia -- the Israeli/Palestinian conflict was an obvious afterthought. The terrorists who hate America also don't need "re-energizing." The only way those hateful Islamofascists will give up is when they're being told by Allah of their woeful mistakes and sent to the "other place."
As far as the "friendly Arab regimes" go, which ones is Goldsborough talking about? Saudis? Egyptians? Syria? With friends like them, who needs enemies?