Follow The Sequence Of Mideast Violence
By OFER BAVLY, Tampa Bay Online, March 9, 2008
There is no symmetry between Israel and Palestinian extremists.
There are no shades of gray; there is no cultural relativism, no equidistant, conditional ifs and buts. There is no Israeli action followed by a Palestinian reaction. There is no egalitarian share of the blame and responsibility, and the sooner this fact is understood by the international community, the better.
Recent media reports about the plight of Gaza residents highlighted the fact that hunger, poverty, shortage of electricity and fuel in Gaza were the result of Israel’s blockade on that Palestinian-controlled zone. As if Israel decided, out of the blue, to impose collective punishment on all Palestinians out of sheer evil. It was then easy for the world media to present rocket launching from Gaza as a natural, understandable, reaction of a frustrated, hungry population. Similarly, terror attacks against Israeli civilians are regularly presented by Palestinian spokesmen (picked up by “objective” journalists) as retaliation to the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
There is a difference between an arsonist lighting a building, and the fireman putting out the fire. There is no similarity between a robber who attacks his victim, and the policeman who attacks the robber in order to arrest him. Sure, both may use violence. But are they equally reponsible for it?
Too often, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may seem like a vicious circle of violence, a back and forth game of tennis, an eye-for-an-eye that ultimately leaves both sides blind and the international community apathetic at best – and anti-Israeli at worst – mistaking victim for aggressor.
It may be necessary to remind ourselves that in the Middle East, there is a sequence of events, not a cycle of violence. It is a continuum which can be stopped at a moment’s notice, by the Palestinians, should they choose to do so or should they feel the necessary international pressure to do so.
In August 2006, Israel pulled out of Gaza. We dismantled our settlements, down to the last one. We redeployed our troops outside Gaza. We left Gaza to the Gazans – no occupation, no Israeli presence. Without our presence there, the Hamas terror organization staged a coup d’etat in June 2007, taking over Gaza from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Since then, they have launched over 5,000 missiles at Israel’s southern region.
Remember: there was no occupation of Gaza. There was no blockade of Gaza. That was not retaliation. There was no symmetry, only terrorism. And yet, Israel did not react to that provocation. We did not invade Gaza, or reconquer any part of it. But after thousands of rockets landed on our towns, Israel decided that supplying the Palestinians with fuel, electricity and other basic needs isn’t the best policy of self-defense.
A blockade was imposed. When Hamas blew open the border between Gaza and Egypt, they opened the door to a massive influx of arms, ammunitions and terrorists coming into Gaza. They also used the breach to allow terrorists to cross into Sinai and from there into Israel, where they will try to kill more of our citizens.
This is not symmetry. This is terrorism, launched against people whose only crime is being Israeli and wanting to live in peace and security.
Israel will defend itself against this latest wave of terror. Do not call it a cycle of violence. The violence will end when the Palestinian terrorists stop attacking us. If they renounce violence, there will be peace. If we renounce self-defense, Israel will cease to exist. No symmetry.
Ofer Bavly is Israel’s consul general in Miami
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