My teeth nearly fell out a few weeks ago when I heard Ariel Sharon say that
he was going to begin dismantling illegal Israeli settlements in the
Occupied Territories as a means of getting the Peace Process back on track.
Reciprocal promises by Mahmoud Abbas to crack down on factional terror
strikes seemed almost as breathtaking. Could this be the moment I so longed
for since the fatal blow to a nearly-realized dream three years ago? Would
the bloodshed stop and period of reconstructive optimism commence? Oh, come
on-this is Israel! Of course it couldn't be that easy!
Never mind that Hamas has tried to squelch every peace deal in the last
decade by engaging in a relentless murder spree. Whether it was the number
19 bus line in Tel Aviv or a multi-cultural café in Haifa, Hamas bombs have
slaughtered or maimed more people than Ikea packs in on a holiday weekend.
Whenever negotiations were at a critical phase or a new milestone reached,
Hamas could be counted on to show their distress through abject murder. No
wonder Arafat had no problem selling them out to the CIA and Mossad four
years ago. They deserved it. The retarded mentality that brings on
frivolous and anachronistic reactionary revenge has no place in evolving
culture. Particularly where wounds are so deep and furious.
Exactly why Sharon continues to play directly into Hamas' little game is
God's own private mystery. Sharon's hardly a dummy, but much like a
ravenous dog before a freshly cut stead, he cannot help but shred the meat
because that's what he's trained himself to do. No thinking is involved.
Like his Hamas counterparts, only revenge is important. This has been
demonstrated again and again over the last few years vis-à-vis Sharon's
habit of summarily executing Hamas radicals with missiles and heavy machine
guns. One such attack missed the target but killed the target's entire
family instead. Another such attack left sixteen innocent children dead
when a missile slammed into an apartment building. By martyring every Hamas
operative he can, Sharon only dumps more gasoline on a wildfire.
Which is why I was taken completely aback by Sharon professing to be a
convert on the Way of the Dove. This implied that he could show restraint
in the face of trial. He was turning the other cheek, and embracing the
fortitude of that turn. And yet what happens at his first test? He flunks
the big one, then pulls off yet another stunning blunder right behind it.
By responding to a suicide bombing with a missile attack on a carload of
Hamas commanders, then repeating this moronic barbarity, Sharon has shown
that he hasn't learned a goddamn thing. War dog that he'll be to his own
grave, he cannot stay his hand. He hasn't even given Abbas the chance to
bring in any Hamas radicals (or maybe Abbas just didn't move with the
lightning speed of a rocket). Instead, he's gone back to the ancient
salt-the-earth ways. This isn't peace. In fact, pretending to embrace
peace through clearly contrary actions insults the intelligence of the
Obviously, in order to achieve any lasting stay in the Israel slaughter
game, Hamas must be either neutralized or ignored. By showing indifference
to their despicable actions, Sharon and Abbas and Bush could make suicide
and other bombings moot. Where's the martyrdom if no one cares? Better
yet, all three sides could once again work together in rounding up the most
radically violent and virulent of Hamas and putting them in prison.
Prisoners enjoy no martyrdom at all, and are free to engage Allah all day
long. And if Hamas devotees have to be dragged kicking and screaming into
the greener pastures of peaceful co-existence, then so be it. Who will buy
their rant when the blood stops flowing and stabilizing investment returns
to the West Bank and Gaza? When a new national pride flows through the
veins of beleaguered Palestinians, and Martin Luther King's dream spreads
laterally to little Jewish and Muslim boys and girls playing soccer on the
street together? No one. But getting there will require restraint and tact
in action. The only question that remains is whether Ariel Sharon and
Mahmoud Abbas have what it takes to walk the most difficult and fruitful