Monday, November 25, 2002

More of the same.
I was sent an e-mail, by someone, whose name I will not divulge, because I have not requested his permission to do so. He said, among other things:

"I'm an Islamicist, by the way, and a lifelong liberal, yet I find myself in
full agreement with almost everything said by yourself and your
correspondents. It never ceases to amaze me how many of my fellow liberals are taken in by the 'poor Palestinian victims' lobby. It doesn't surprise me from within Islam, where anti-Semitism is built into the system. But for Western liberals brought up with a more than passing knowledge of the Holocaust, and holding political views totally opposed to those found in the Arab and Muslim worlds, to round on a democratic and socially liberal Israel
and support repressive Islamic states is simply shocking."

This e-mail got me thinking about peace activists. Again.

Foreign peace activists who say they come to this area to promote peace offend me. Why do they offend me? Because if they were truly interested in promoting peace they would take the time to listen to the suffering of the Israelis. They would go to the hospitals, and hold the hands of the Israeli wounded, they would visit the families of the Israeli dead.

I am grateful that peace activists and humanitarian organizations are helping Palestinians. They are needed there. There is great misery and suffering on the Palestinian side.

It's true, we Israelis look after our own. The Jewish Diaspora and others who support us pitch in. We don't need food and we can manage with medical supplies and aid. We don't need help rebuilding our coffee shops, pizzerias and discotheques.

What we do need is a bit of compassion. We do need not to be told constantly that we deserve to be blown up and that we alone are to blame for our suffering. This is insulting and offensive. It fills our hearts with anger and hatred, even if they were not there before.

In cutting themselves off from the suffering of the Israelis, the peace activists are not helping promote peace. They are helping prolong war. They are going to the Palestinians and saying to them, with great love and compassion: "You poor dears. You do not deserve to be treated in such a fashion. The Israelis are wrong and are doing you a great injustice." Thus they encourage the Palestinians. They strengthen their determination while alienating Israelis, even those who yearn for peace and who are truly willing for painful compromise.

Why do they not say to them: "We help you because you are desperate, and because you need our help. In return you must do your utmost to stop suicide bombings and all other violent activities, in order that you may sit down and negotiate with the Israelis and reach a peaceful solution"?

Most Israelis left in the peace camp are those who, like their foreign counterparts, seem to see in Israel and the Israelis the only guilty party in this conflict. They also seem to fail to see the need for supporting the Israeli victims of this conflict and offering them their compassion.

They do nothing to earn the respect of their Israeli brethren and indirectly encourage the Palestinians' violence. Therefore their peace efforts are not only useless, they are actually detrimental to peace.

This need not be the case. Would it not be a powerful message for peace, if after every murderous suicide attack against innocent Israelis, peace activists would leave the Palestinian towns and refugee camps and go to spend some time with the wounded and visit the mourning families of those murdered? Afterwards, they could go back to the towns and refugee camps and continue giving humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

There may be some who do this, but I have not heard of this happening.

Could it be that they do not do this because the Palestinians might harm them if they are seen to be giving any support to Israelis? Could it be that they dare not visit the mourning house of Israelis, lest they be unwelcome?

If they are really committed to peace, these considerations shouldn't hinder them. They are willing to risk Israeli bullets, after all.

But they do not do these things. Nor do they do ride Israeli buses in a show of solidarity and compassion, as Stefan Sharkansky and others have suggested. They make no effort to show that they give a damn about the suffering even of Israeli babies, who could hardly be blamed for the situation any more than Palestinian babies.

But they are called peace activists, nevertheless.