October 7, 2003
After the Haifa attack, I wanted to write something. After the retaliation / targeted attacks by Israel, I also wanted to write something.
When I read the front page of the Times on Monday (in Athens), I wanted to write to the paper.
And after reading this morning’s Jerusalem Post, I am now writing.
In the Times, they had a large photo of the face of a 26-year old English lady who was already in the West Bank with some colleagues to show support for Arafat, a man she greatly admires. Now, she had joined him in his Ramallah office, claiming to be there as a human shield. On an inside page, another picture of her at Arafat’s conference table.
Today’s Post had, of course, stories of the funerals, and stories of those that died. Many of the victims were from 3 families, 5 were 3 generations of one family. One mother cried that she was not able to protect her daughter.
Israel’s actions are continuously being compared to the suicide bombings, but here was a gaping difference: the English lady had the ‘luxury’ of being able to know who is on the likely list of Israeli targets.
These are the ones who are directly and indirectly considered responsible for the suicide attacks. (The family of the Haifa suicide killer, a female, knew 100% that one of the consequences of her action would be the devastation of the family home. A targeted attack). During this Intifada, now 3 years on, it would be difficult to find an Israeli attack that was not a targeted one at someone they ‘know’ (at least suspect?) of being part of the terror campaign. Innocent victims of such attacks? Indefensibly yes. The horror of war.
But today’s mother showed the other extreme. How can she protect her children? How can I? (My older one just came in after an evening at a night club). She can’t, because, as far as I can recall, none of the attacks against Israel has been after a specific target. They have been random attacks on soft spots. Even Arabs can be targets, as this Haifa attack demonstrated.
And now, just a few minutes ago, a niece of mine, mother of a 1 year-old kid, who lives in Haifa, whose parents (Aviva’s sister and husband) live not far from Maxim’s restaurant, e-mailed me a photo. How she got her hands on it I do not know. And why she sent it, I also do not know. She is not that type. But it was a horror, taken just minutes after the explosion, perhaps seconds after the first help arrived. Of course, this could be the result of any such attack, even an Israel targeted attack.
I watched the UN Security Council ‘debate’ on Syria’s proposal for a new resolution. Again the accusations of what Israel wants to do with her neighbours. I also watched, on Greek TV, an interview with the late-Edward Said, one of the Palestinian’s most eloquent speakers; such a brilliant twister.
But a couple of facts keep jumping out at me:
Jordan and Israel are the only countries in the M. East who have granted citizenship to the Palestinians living within their borders. And, apart from one terrible incident when Israeli police opened fire on Israeli Arabs violently demonstrating, and killed 13 of them (now in court), Israel is the only of the 2 to have left them in relative peace (Black September was in Jordan). The Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt etc. have no rights, no passports, are not allowed to own land, no voting rights, and excluded from most decent jobs. This I learnt from Edward Said. And this is because they will never give up the hope of reversing the original 1947 UN decision.
How can Israel be accused of not wishing to live with its neighbours, when it proves it can do so every single day – with its 1.3 million Arab Israeli citizens.