- - Monday, November 23, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Think back to October 2002, when the Beltway sniper and his young accomplice paralyzed the Washington region for three weeks, sowing fear and keeping people from pumping gas, buying groceries, holding soccer practices or venturing from their homes. Ponder what just happened in Paris.

Now imagine if 20, 50 or 100 copycats were doing the same thing for weeks or months on end and exhorting others to join them. Would you send your kids to school or engage in your normal activities under such a terrorist onslaught? Might you want the National Guard called out?

Along with 50 other northern Virginians, we just returned from two weeks in Israel. Planned many months ago, our trip coincided with the latest spasm of Palestinian violence directed at Israelis. This new war is perhaps more insidious and heinous than past “intifadas,” however, since the violence comes out of nowhere, with no warning and no rhyme or reason.

No one is exempt. Old people have been stabbed and brutalized on city streets; so have young mothers with toddlers, rabbis in study halls, American students in cars, and people praying. Children have been forced to watch their parents murdered in front of them.

Our group continued its countrywide visit, but always looking around warily for signs of trouble. In some places an armed security guard accompanied us.

One suburban Jerusalem shopkeeper told us he and his six-year-old twins experience constant rocks and Molotov cocktails thrown at their house. He asked plaintively, “How do I explain that to my children?”

While many of these attacks occur in what the news media like to call “Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory,” the fact is that many have actually occurred in pre-1967 Israel, including Tel Aviv suburbs like Netanya and Ra’anana, and downtown Jerusalem. As tourists, we saw firsthand how such random attacks sow fear, changes in daily life and calls for retaliation.

Markets had fewer people, restaurants were less crowded, schools and businesses suffered. Mothers refused to send their children to school for almost a week, until troops patrolled streets in large numbers. Life in cities gradually began returning to “normal” as our trip ended, but the stabbings and shootings continue.

What do the Palestinian Arabs gain from their vicious mayhem, inspired by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, the Arab media and many imams? They gain nothing, because the attacks destroy any notion within Israel that it has a partner for peace.

They destroy any hope that the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza Strip will ever govern themselves peaceably, in close proximity to Israel’s major cities and sole international airport, even if their settlement, “two-state solution” and other demands are met.

While the media, United Nations, State Department and boycott-divestment groups frequently claim the Palestinian side merely wants a state of its own next to Israel, the blatant refusal of attackers and their supporters to accept even pre-1967 Israel — or even depict Israel on maps — shows they are intent on keeping this 90-year war boiling for their own nationalistic purposes.

Abba Eban famously said, “The Arabs never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity” for peace. They are well on their way to continuing that dismal record.

With our own eyes, we saw that Israel is a place of marvelous vitality, creativity and diversity: amazing food, archaeology, culture, science (cellphone chips, desalination plants, cancer treatments and much more), agriculture, beaches and profound spirituality. Its racial and ethnic tolerance — while not perfect — is worlds better than anything found in its neighboring countries.

Under horribly adverse conditions, Israelis have built a thriving and energetic society, a marvel on the ruins of their ancient past and recent Jewish history.

They not going anywhere, nor should they be expected to — any more than the English should leave England or Americans the United States.

Indeed, Israel has integrated some 800,000 Jews who were driven penniless from Arab lands after its 1948 independence, plus millions of other Jews and non-Jews from around the world over the ensuing decades. As they built new lives in their adopted land, Israel has prospered with them.

By contrast, virtually no Arab countries have accepted or integrated any Palestinian Arabs, many of whom still claim “refugee” status five generations after this long war began. They treat refugees from the current Iraq-Syria conflagration the same way. How many Syrians are in Saudi Arabia today, instead of Germany?

Israel’s Jews live the Jewish people’s dream of a sovereign state reborn in its ancient homeland, and they are there to stay, along with Circassian, Christian, Druze, Bhai, Arab and other peoples. At the same time, the Palestinian Arabs have built a society based on death, perpetual grievance, medieval attitudes and beliefs, and murder-suicides they mistakenly call martyrdom.

The sooner they sheath their knives, step out of the Middle Ages, and accept the fact that their Jewish neighbors will be in Israel for another 3,000 years, the sooner they, too, will have a chance to thrive in a country of their own.

Paul Driessen is a senior policy analyst and Glenn Taubman is an attorney in Virginia. They have visited Israel many times.


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