July 2, 2006.
Israel Invades Gaza. That is in response to an attackÃ from Gaza that killed
two Israelis and wounded another, who was kidnapped and brought back to
Gaza …which, in turn, was in response to Israel’s targeted killing of terrorist
leaders in Gaza…which, in turn, was in response to the indiscriminate shelling
of Israeli towns by rockets launched from Gaza.
Of all the conflicts in the world, the one that seems the most tediously and
hopelessly endless is the Arab-Israeli dispute, which has been going on in much
the same way, it seems, for 60 years. Just about every story you’ll see will
characterize Israel’s invasion of Gaza as a continuation of the cycle of violence.
Cycles are circular. They have no end. They have no beginning. That is why, as
tempting as that figure of speech is to use, in this case it is false.
It is as false as calling American attacks on Taliban remnants in
Afghanistan part of a cycle of violence between the U.S. and al-Qaeda or, as
Osama bin Laden would have it, between Islam and the Crusaders going back
to 1099. Every party has its grievances–even Hitler had his list when he
invaded Poland in 1939–but every conflict has its origin.
What is so remarkable about the current wave of violence in Gaza is that the
event at the origin of the “cycle” is not at all historical, but very contemporary.
The event is not buried in the mists of history. It occurred less than one year
ago. Before the eyes of the whole world, Israel left Gaza. Every Jew, every
soldier, every military installation, every remnant of Israeli occupation was
uprooted and taken away.
How do the Palestinians respond? What have they done with Gaza, the first
Palestinian territory in history to be independent, something neither the
Ottomans nor the British nor the Egyptians nor the Jordanians, all of whom
ruled Palestinians before the Israelis, ever permitted?
On the very day of Israel’s final pullout, the Palestinians began firing
rockets out of Gaza into Israeli towns on the other side of the border.
And remember: those are attacks not on settlers but on civilians in Israel
proper, the pre-1967 Israel that the international community recognizes as
legitimately part of sovereign Israel, a member state of the U.N. A thousand
rockets have fallen since.
For what possible reason? Before the withdrawal, attacks across the border
could have been rationalized with the usual Palestinian mantra of occupation,
settlements and so on. But what can one say after the withdrawal?
The logic for those continued attacks is to be found in the so-called phase plan
adopted in 1974 by the Palestine National Council in Cairo. Realizing that they
would never be able to destroy Israel in one fell swoop, the Palestinians
adopted a graduated plan to wipe out Israel.
First, accept any territory given to them in any part of historic Palestine.
Then, use that sanctuary to wage war until Israel is destroyed.
So in 2005 the Palestinians are given Gaza, free of any Jews. Do they begin
building the state they say they want, constructing schools and roads and
No. They launch rockets at civilians and dig a 300-yard tunnel under the
border to attack Israeli soldiers and bring back a hostage.
And this time the terrorism is carried out not by some shadowy group that the
Palestinian leader can disavow, however disingenuously. This is Hamas in
action — the group that was recently elected to lead the Palestinians.
At least there is now truth in advertising: a Palestinian government
openly committed to terrorism and to the destruction of a member state of the
U.N. openly uses terrorism to carry on its war.
That is no cycle. That is an arrow. That is action with a purpose. The action
began 59 years ago when the U.N. voted to solve the Palestine conundrum
then ruled by Britain by creating a Jewish state and a Palestinian state side by
The Jews accepted the compromise; the Palestinians rejected it and
joined five outside Arab countries in a war to destroy the Jewish state and take
all the territory for themselves.
They failed, and Israel survived. That remains, in the Palestinian view, Israel’s
original sin, the foundational crime for the cycle: Israel’s survival.
That’s the reason for the rockets, for the tunneling, for the kidnapping –
and for Israel’s current response.
If that history is too ancient, consider the history of the past 12 months. Gaza
is free of occupation, yet Gaza wages war.
Why? Because this war is not about occupation, but about Israel’s very
The so-called cycle will continue until the arrow is abandoned and the
Palestinians accept a compromise – or until the arrow finds its mark and Israel dies.