In 1993, I was sitting in an army jeep outside of Ramallah for yet another difficult reserve duty where, instead of defending my country in a tank, I was chasing teenagers who were throwing rocks at me and then, when we couldn’t catch them, we would enter their houses in the middle of the night ostensibly to try to catch the rock throwers.  In reality, we were there just to make a statement — you annoy us by day; we will annoy you by night. I hated it. This was not what I had signed up for and after seven stints in the territories I had become increasingly Left-wing and participated in many demonstrations against the occupation. No one needs to preach to me about the ills of occupation.

Back to the jeep — instead of rocks, I saw teenagers smiling. I smiled back and gave them a peace sign — the Oslo accords had been signed and I was beaming with pride and optimism.  Avi, my tank driver and receiver of my never-ending critique of the settlements — that’s where he lived — told me that I was naïve. I told him that he was in denial. We were and are the best of friends.

Two months ago, Avi saw me on Derech Beit Lechem, gave me a huge bear hug, and said with a great deal of enthusiasm — what happened to you!? I see on Facebook that you are more right-wing than I am. Not true, I exclaimed! I reminded him that during our many disagreements, he used to claim that “a rock is holy,” and I’d said, “Life is holy.”  Therefore, I want more funds invested in the spheres of education, health and social welfare.  You want more settlements; I want less territory. We both want peace, but seem to differ as how to get there.”

So? What happened to you? Avi retorted. I responded: None of those beliefs have changed. What has changed is that we were promised peace and received terror. We tried to compromise in order to end the occupation and in return we received Arafat’s Second Intifada with suicide bombers killing people on buses, restaurants and hotels. The Disengagement led to the launching of thousands of missiles on population centers. The current wave of terror being spurred on by Abu Mazzen’s incitement sees Palestinian teenagers knifing Israeli citizens in the streets of Jerusalem and adult terrorists shooting up bars in Tel Aviv. Raviv Drucker, Channel 10’s news correspondent, riveting and telling interview with Olmert revealed how far Israel was prepared to go to make peace and end the occupation. Drucker’s interview with Abu Mazzen revealed the final and ultimate and failure of the Oslo accords. The Palestinian hatred of Israelis, despite what the left wing keeps on promulgating, has nothing to do about occupation, but their dream of returning to Palestine in its entirety.

Michael Sfard, the author of the article, “The Israeli Occupation Will End Suddenly,” printed in Ha’aretz this month, gets it wrong — the occupation will continue, not because of the Right; rather, because the Left continues to embolden Palestinian rejectionist claims, violence, and terror by continually rationalizing Palestinian violence and terror instead of demanding accountability from the Palestinian leadership. The other day, I asked a progressive, left-wing friend, who is at the forefront of the human rights movement, why doesn’t he condemn the knifing of two women in Beit Horon? His response: “I don’t have to relate to “every” woman being knifed; I prefer to relate to the issue of human rights — that’s who I am”.

That is not who I am. Just as I told Avi, life is holy and the right to live is the quintessential basic human right. That’s who I am; I have not changed at all. The occupation will end when more people stand up for the rights of Israelis to live without terror. When that happens, I’ll take on Avi again about the need to strengthen the social and economic tapestry of Israeli society, to decrease spending in the territories, and to end the occupation.

Until that time, no more naïve peace signs from me sitting on a jeep.

Meir Charash
mc.charash@gmail.com
0544 873116