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wSaturday, March 23, 2002

PALESTINE GOES BOOM: Regarding this week's tragic events in Israel, one isn't sure whether to laugh or cry. Laughing might seem perverse, but, quoth Kurt Vonnegut, "Laughing or crying is what a human being does when there's nothing else he can do." For some reason, that bit of insight always sounded very Jewish to me...

Most of what I have to say on the subject has already been said in a previous article (which I urge you to read). But let me say for all my new Muslim readers that I think the locus of the blame rests squarely on what used to be the shoulders of the Palestinian suicide bombers. Israel has, all things considered, shown remarkable restraint. After September 11, when Palestinians cheered the blasts and Afarat had to forcibly put down some celebrants, had Ariel Sharon been of such a mind, he could have killed Arafat, flattened as many people as he wanted and driven the rest out of the land. The repercussions would have been minimal: The U.S. would have blocked any condemnation in the U.N. and any nation dumb enough to go to war with the Israelis over it would have had their own arses handed to them.

Sharon didn't push that button and I've wondered why ever since. There is the obvious fact that such a thing would have been, to use a recently popular word, evil, but rulers often do evil in order to promote what they take to be the common good. The reason for the restraint finally hit me as I was reading Elie Wiesel's Dawn, the great writer's account of the Israeli underground resistance to the Brits. Israel's collective memory recalls a time when they were engaging in some less-than-completely-wholesome tactics to acquire their own independence. To wipe out the Palestinians for attempting the same thing would be to condemn themselves.

That said, this uptick in suicide bombings may finally wear Israel's restraint out and prove most deadly for Arafat and company. Any sympathy for Palestinians vanishes when every Palestinian is considered a potential walking time bomb.

I almost never agree with Joe Sobran. About much of anything, but specifically about Israel. But he wrote a column a while back that made a point that makes so much sense that I have to link to it. He wrote, "The Palestinians’ best bet is not violence, but peaceful appeals to the Jewish conscience. ... [This] conscience is the Palestinians’ greatest weapon, but they are wasting it by frightening the Jews to death. ... [T]he conquerors can only be conquered by peace. I don’t think this is utopian advice; I think it’s hard realism."

posted by Jeremy at 5:04 AM