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Sunday, September 28, 2008
Archives: Text of controversial Ha'aretz Op-Ed calling for Palestinians to focus on killing adult settlers

"Many in Israel, perhaps even the majority of the voters, do not doubt the
legitimacy of the armed resistance in the territories themselves. The
Palestinians would be wise to concentrate their struggle against the
settlements, avoid harming women and children and strictly refrain from
firing on Gilo, Nahal Oz or Sderot; it would also be smart to stop planting
bombs to the west of the Green Line."

Text of controversial Ha'aretz Op-Ed calling for Palestinians to focus on
killing settlers - "Many in Israel, perhaps even the majority of the voters,
do not doubt the legitimacy of the armed resistance in the territories
themselves"

Facing a sleepwalking government - By Ze'ev Sternhell
Published in Ha'aretz on 11 May 2001
[IMRA: Israel Radio reported today - 16 May 2001 - that a complaint was
filed today with the police against Sternhell for encouraging the murder of
Israelis residing beyond the Green Line]

As the months since the downfall of Ehud Barak go by, not only does the
sense of loss increase, but so too the dilemma deepens in which the left
wing finds itself - facing a government of the settlers that is pushing
Israel closer and closer toward the insane margins of statehood.On the
backdrop of the current struggle, the decision to pump huge additional sums
of money into the territories, coupled with an explicitly-stated refusal to
freeze settlement activities, rears up like a carefully-calculated strategic
ploy, and not merely an attempt to placate the masses.

As a result, the Palestinians have the right to view this government
initiative as a deciding factor in favor of continuing the conflict.
Implementation of the initiative would certainly bring about an escalation
in the resistance and violence, together with a louder call for
international intervention as the only solution both to the severe distress
of the Palestinian population and to Israel's inability to keep itself in
check.

Nevertheless, this government - as cruel, if not criminal, as its behavior
toward the occupied population may be - is a government that was
democratically elected.
Hence the following simple question, as biting as it is, must be asked -
does the fact that a government enjoys a stable majority in the Knesset
afford it the authority to demand that the minority accept the law it lays
down, at all times and under any circumstances?

It should be noted immediately that expressions of this kind have never
once tickled the conscience of the settlement-oriented right. When Barak was
in power and was conducting negotiations with the Palestinians on
fundamental principles, to which we will have to return to in the future
anyway because, after all, there is no other basis for peace, there was no
doubt that the settlement leaders would use all means at their disposal to
oppose any attempt to evacuate their communities.
It was the fear of violent resistance that kept the moonstruck settlements
in the heart of Hebron, the Gaza Strip and the suburbs of Ramallah in place.
The settler rightists have always made a point of clarifying that as far as
they are concerned, any decision on the evacuation of Jews from their homes
is morally invalid and tantamount to treason.

In the past decade, it was this fear of a rupture that could have ended in
bloodshed that paralyzed Rabin and Peres and later prevented Barak from
unequivocally presenting his withdrawal map. Now comes the practical
question: If the right is allowed to aim a loaded pistol at the heart of any
government in Israel, why does the left have to submissively accept dictates
that threaten turning Israel into a country that could be held accountable
for war crimes?

The left has been debilitated not by the Intifada, but by the Palestinian
demand for the right of return. The Palestinian leadership, one can safely
assume, failed to properly assess the Israeli reaction to such a demand or
understand the magnitude of its error in raising it. After all, the top
officials in the Palestinian Authority know that a right of return to within
the Green Line (the pre-1967 borders of Israel) will never be realized; yet
they don't dare tell the truth to the residents of the refugee camps.

Presumably, this last barrier will also be lifted in the not-too-distant
future. The Intifada is serving both as an attempt to delay the outcome and,
at the same time, an opportunity to construct another stratum of bravery and
sacrifice on which to lay the foundations of independence.

Many in Israel, perhaps even the majority of the voters, do not doubt the
legitimacy of the armed resistance in the territories themselves. The
Palestinians would be wise to concentrate their struggle against the
settlements, avoid harming women and children and strictly refrain from
firing on Gilo, Nahal Oz or Sderot; it would also be smart to stop planting
bombs to the west of the Green Line. By adopting such an approach, the
Palestinians would be sketching the profile of a solution that is the only
inevitable one: The amended Green Line will be an international border and
territory will be handed over to compensate the Palestinians for land that
has already been or will be annexed to Israel.

In the immediate term, however, there is a pressing need to adopt a
position on the proposal to send international forces to Israel - a
suggestion that is gaining momentum, and not only in Europe. After all, if
there is reason to oppose a U.S. infantry battalion stationed in the Sinai,
if it is a good idea to allow UN observer forces to take up positions on the
Golan Heights and along the border with Lebanon, why is there such a fierce
rejection of their proposed presence in the PA?

If we have nothing to hide; if our behavior is exemplary; if we aren't
shooting at children or stopping pregnant women at roadblocks; if we aren't
starving entire villages, why don't we allow U.S. officers to report this to
the entire world? If we are only defending ourselves against the forces of
evil, fighting terrorism with the purest of intentions and arms, and, it
goes without saying, upholding signed deals and international law, why don't
we allow the truth to be revealed?

This hypocritical government, which has little regard for the life of a
non-Jew, appears to be on the verge of setting a new record and persuading
its citizens that truly someone else must save us from ourselves. When
Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir held the reigns of power, even their most
bitter enemies knew that there were red lines that the two former prime
ministers would not cross, at least not consciously or intentionally. This
confidence in the moral considerations of the veterans of the Etzel and Lehi
pre-state, underground militias has now disappeared altogether. The human
dimension that characterized the members of that fighting elite is a
stranger to the Pinchas Wallersteins, Benny Elons and fanatics from Hebron
and isn't understood by them and their like.

Ariel Sharon has yet to finally decide whether he wants to be like Menachem
Begin or the leaders of the settlers. For now, all the signs seem to
indicate that imperviousness, evil and shortsightedness are gaining the
upper hand

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