This is a response to Zahava Englard’s blog “What about us ?” I have taken the liberty to write my response on the basis of Zahava’s piece. I have taken her one-sided enumeration of the terror timeline and inserted, in bold, the aspects that Zahava chose not to mention.
The other night, I drove in the pouring rain by the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem and saw hundreds of people giving support to bereaved families whose loved ones have been murdered by Arab terrorists. And I was thinking to myself, why for heaven’s sake is he setting some of the murderers free now, not as part of a final agreement where everybody can understand the importance and possible deal emotionally with what is really an immoral act, but as part of some negotiating tactic. What is that Prime MInister of us thinking, dealing with people’s feelings as if they are worth nothing?
For four decades, successive governments of Israel have maintained what is essentially an illegal occupation of Palestinian lands gained in a defensive war. For the first two decades the occupied population suffered silently, more or less since they also benefited, at least economically from this situation. But then in 1987, feelings that developed over the previous decades egged on by intensive settlement of Palestinian land, erupted in violence against us, the “benevolent” occupier.
Fortunately, an Israeli government that took helm of the state in 1992 realized that this was a situation that could not continue and in conjunction with the Palestinian leadership of the days, initiated the Oslo Agreements with potentially farreaching benefits to the whole area. Sadly, a right wing extremist put an end to this opening towards a peaceful settlement by murdering PM Itzhak Rabin in 1995 and successive Israeli governments and the Palestinian leadership failed to continue on the path prepared by Rabin and Arafat in 1993. Leaders on both sides failed to address the issues that made continuing the peace process difficult – Israel continued settlements unabated, regardless of international protestations and strong objections by the Palestinians. In response, Palestinians continued with agitation and incitement of their population and rarely acted to prevent terror attacks against Israeli civilians.
For almost two decades the Israeli government of Israel has done little if anything indicating that it really is interested in a peace agreement with the other side. For almost two decades the government of Israel has done nothing to address the burning problems besetting the Land of Israel – how to end the occupation and achieve full human and civil rights for all inhabitants of the area controlled by Israel, in agreement with the Palestinian authority which has a valid and internationally supported claim to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
For almost two decades the government of Israel has made believe that it supports the two-state solution but has not done the minimum effort to advance that solution except for occasional negotiations with the other side, when put under pressure. Nor has it proposed an alternate solution to the two-state solution.
For two decades the Palestinians have watched Israel build settlement after settlement while negotiations where ongoing. Even another, much more violent intifada between 2000 and 2005 didn’t send the message home and stop Israel’s settlement drive.
For almost two decades the government of Israel did little to stop the immoral acts that are always part and parcel of an occupation that rules over 2.5 – 4 million Palestinians (depends who is counting and who is counted) who have limited civil and human rights and whose economic well being is severely hampered.
When is it our turn? When is it their turn? When will the government of Israel, as the de-facto sovereign over most of the territories put the security and well-being of all the people living there first?
When will the government give us confidence that it really is interested in resolving this conflict which is beginning to isolate Israel from the Western World morally, academically and economically and is grinding away at Jewish solidarity for the State of Israel?
Israelis are dying for this land. So are Palestinians. Both sides are sacrificing loved ones and both sides show no sign of giving up their claims in the face of terrible existential challenges.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, when will you stop acting like a horse that has to be dragged to the water and forced to drink? When will you have the guts to do something on your own initiative and decide on the divison of the Land of Israel to save not only the people of Israel but all the other people in the Land of Israel as well?
When will you stop contributing to our physical and spiritual destruction?
Supporters of Israel have a difficult time remembering when was the last time that Israel did something constructive to advance the Peace Process. Even releasing Palestinian terrorist murderers, in conjunction with even more settlement construction, is done in an objectionable way harming both the peace process and causing terrible suffering to the families of those murdered. Why do you continue to appease your masters in the settlement enterprise?
Prime Minister of Israel, how many more settlements will you build before you realize that this will only cause more terror and more bloodshed and undermine any international support Israel still has left?
How many of us will have to suffer loss before you stop your quest for Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank? This is what it’s all about isn’t it?
Have any of your actions done anything to advance the interests of the State of Israel in view of the most burning issues? Anything at all?? Have they brought us closer to peace?
Is there any way that the other side can fathom that it is peace that we want?
Have we stopped telling our children and adults that there is no partner on the other side? And that non-Jews can be discriminated against not only with impunity but with government support?
Have we really started speaking about sharing the Land of Israel or are we counting on the other side to say no to anything we might have to offer?
Have we stopped arguing that the Palestinians aren’t really a people to invalidate any claim they might have on the land?
Has our continued every day violence in the territories against the civilian population instilled any serious desire in the other side to make peace with us?
Quite the contrary.
Since you, O’ leaders of Israel suffer from a short memory as our detractors do, allow me to remind you with a brief timeline of Israel’s actions and “confidence building” measures and their resulting consequences.
The timeline includes Zahava Englard’s original entries and my additions (bold).
September, 1993: Jericho and Gaza are transferred to the Arabs. In that year in the occupied territories, 154 Palestinians are killed by the Israeli Army, an additional 13 are killed by Israeli civilians. In the same period 27 Israeli civilians and 18 members of the Israeli armed forces are killed by Palestinians.
February 1994: Baruch Goldstein murders 29 Muslim worshipers and injures 125 in the Mosque that is part of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. In 1994, in the occupied territories, 106 Palestinians are killed by Israeli security forces and another 38 by Israeli civilians. In the same period, 11 Israeli civilians and twelve Israeli Army soldiers are killed by Palestinians.
September, 1995: Under Oslo II, Judea and Samaria are divided into three areas: Area A, which is under exclusive PA control; Area B, where the PA have civilian control and Israelis control security; and Area C, which is controlled exclusively by Israel.
December, 1995: Israel withdraws its troops from five major Arab cities and RELEASES 1,000 terrorists from prison.
Early in 1996, while the Oslo Process still had hope, and there was relative calm in the land, Israel decided it couldn’t forego killing a leading terrorist when the opportunity arose – Yichye Ayash a leading Palestinian terrorist was dealt with in a targeted killing and in response, from February 25 through March 4, 1996 Arab suicide attacks kill dozens and wound hundreds. On March 4th alone, in a Tel Aviv mall, 13 people are killed and 157 are wounded. The dead are all under 17 years old. In 1996, in the occupied territories, 69 Palestinians are killed by the Israeli security forces, and an additional three are killed by Israeli civilians. In the same period three Israeli civilians and 19 members of the Israeli armed forces are killed by Palestinians. 11 of the Palestinian dead are under 17 years old.
January 15, 1997: Israel withdraws from Hebron, leaving behind only a small enclave of Jewish residents. Now Arafat’s Palestinian Authority controls all of the major cities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
March 21, 1997: A suicide bomber explodes himself in a packed café in Tel Aviv.
July 30, 1997: Two suicide attacks in Jerusalem’s main market (Machaneh Yehuda) within 10 minutes of each other killing 16. Hundreds are wounded.
September, 4, 1997: Three suicide attacks in Jerusalem. Five Israelis are killed and more than 200 wounded. Netanyahu blocks land transfers to the Arabs, declaring that no more land will be handed over to the Arabs as long as the terror attacks continue.
During 1997, in the occupied territories 18 Palestinians are killed by the Israeli security forces, and an additional four are killed by Israeli civilians. In the same period six Israeli civilians are killed by Palestinians.
October, 1998: Wye River Memorandum is signed permitting the construction of an international airport for the Arabs in the Gaza Strip. Israel agrees to pull back its forces from an additional 13% of Judea and Samaria and to RELEASE 750 Arab terrorists. Due to the ceaseless terror, only half of the pull-back is finished and only 250 prisoners are released.
During 1998, in the occupied territories, 21 Palestinians are killed by the Israeli security forces, an additional six are killed by Israeli civilians. In the same period eight Israeli civilians and three members of the Israeli armed forces are killed by Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority agrees to combat terrorist organizations, to arrest those involved in terrorist activities, and to collect all illegal weapons and explosives. None of this is ever done.
September 3-5, 1999: Sharm El-Sheikh Memorandum – Israel AGREES TO RELEASE another 350 security prisoners in two phases.
During 1999, in the occupied territories, eight Palestinians are killed by the Israeli security forces, and one person was killed by Israeli civilians. In the same period one Israeli civilian and two members of the Israeli armed forces are killed by Palestinians.
May 24, 2000: Israel withdraws from southern Lebanon. Hezbollah considers Israel’s flight as a massive victory. The PA and their followers are encouraged by Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon and believe they, too, can achieve their aims by fighting rather than negotiating.
July 11-25, 2000: Barak, before going to Camp David, has a 45 minute (!) preparatory session with all Israeli intelligence agencies and is told clearly that Arafat will not agree to our proposals to be tabled at the summit. Nevertheless, Barak forces him to attend Camp David although Arafat maintains that he is not ready. Using Clinton’s “powers of persuasion”, a diktat, Arafat is literally dragged to Camp David and put under severe pressure there. Issues such as Jerusalem, statehood, boundaries, and refugees are put on the table. Clinton proposes that Israel relinquish almost all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza to the Arabs; the two sides would swap small parcels of land and they would agree to share control of Jerusalem. Barak uses Clinton’s proposal as a starting point and suggests several changes.
Arafat argues that the Jews have no claim at all to the area of the Temple Mount, and therefore, refuses any compromise and rejects the entire proposal. Barak never meets with Arafat alone during the whole time at Camp David. When asked later why he didn’t, his response was that Arafat would have “pocketed any concession he gave”. Not surprisingly, the summit is a disaster. Arafat returns home to a hero’s welcome.
Calls for an uprising, a new intifada, are heard and evidently planned. There is no evidence that the intifada was planned, nor is there evidence that Arafat initiated it in any way. It is clear that he “chose to ride the tiger” once the intifada was on the way.
September, 2000: Arafat is invited to Barak’s private residence. The meeting reportedly goes well. At the end of the evening, Arafat requests that Ariel Sharon be denied permission to visit the Temple Mount. Barak, however, saying he cannot prevent Sharon’s visit, coordinates the visit with the Palestinian Authority, which agrees to keep peace in the area. Barak could have prevented Sharon from visiting the Temple Mount had he wanted to. Another bad judgement call.
Sept. 28, 2000: Sharon visits the Temple Mount and the PA uses this opportunity to initiate the “Al Aqsa intifada.”
October 12, 2000: Two Israeli reservists accidentally stray into PA territory and are lynched by an Arab mob.
During the “Al-Aqsa Intifada” (Sept. 2000 – Dec. 2005) another 1,100 Israelis were killed. During the same period, about 3000 Palestinians were killed, only about 1/3 of whom took part in the hostilities.
Among Barak’s staunchest supporters, many now distrust the Arab’s intentions and Barak announces his resignation in December, 2000. He then crosses all of Israel’s red lines and tries desperately to win support for reelection by quickly pushing through a reckless deal with the PA in Taba, January, 2001. The new terms go much further than what Israel and the U.S. had offered at Camp David. Yet, even this was turned down by the PA and once again the PA refused the opportunity to create a state. Arafat, at Camp David, had held out for better terms since Barak’s offers where great mainly in Israeli’s eyes, not those of the Palestinians. And rather than being forced into an agreement he found not reasonable, he refused to sign (as Israeli intelligence had predicted). And he was correct from the Palestinian point of view since at Taba, Israel offered much better terms. Arafat had no reason to accept them either, good as they appeared to be knowing very well that Barak’s government had no legitimacy at that time and the offer could never be realized.
February, 6, 2001: Sharon defeats Barak in a landslide.
Arab suicide bombings become an almost daily event.
A total of 469 Palestinians and 199 Israelis were killed in 2001. “The overwhelming majority of cases of unlawful killings and injuries in Israel and the Occupied Territories have been committed by the IDF using excessive force. In particular, the IDF have used US-supplied helicopters in punitive rocket attacks where there was no imminent danger to life. Israel has also used helicopter gunships to carry out extrajudicial executions and to fire at targets that resulted in the killing of civilians, including children…Hamas and Islamic Jihad have frequently placed bombs in public places, usually within Israel, in order to kill and maim large numbers of Israeli civilians in a random manner. Both organizations have fostered a cult of martyrdom and frequently use suicide bombers.” (Amnesty International).
March 27, 2002: Arab bomber explodes himself in a Netanya Hotel on Passover, killing 30.
Two days later, Israel finally launches Operation Defensive Shield. Israeli troops reenter cities given over to the PA, targeting terrorists. In Ramallah, Israeli forces enter Arafat’s compound and hold him captive and isolated for 31 days.
June 19-20, 2002: Two bombings kill more than two dozen Israelis in Jerusalem.
The terror continues.
February, 2005: At a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Israel PLEDGES TO RELEASE another 900 Arab terrorist prisoners. By the spring of 2005, 500 of these are released, but after Qassam rocket attacks on Sderot in May, Ariel Sharon withholds the release of the remaining 400.
August, 2005: Israel withdraws all troops and all Israeli civilian residents out of Gaza. The Arabs, rather than prove their capacity to govern over their new acquisition peacefully and responsibly, use these areas as terrorist training grounds and rocket launching pads against Israel. For the next decade, more than 12,000 missiles strike the civilian population centers of southern Israel. Needless to say the territories were returned by Israel not in the framework of a bilateral agreement or any agreement for that matter. After the territories were returned the Gaza strip was progressively put under a blockade as collective punishment for rocket attacks from the strip, and in order to bring down the Hamas administration.
Since December 2005, Arab terrorist attacks have claimed at least another 135 Israeli lives while 3,444 Palestinians died.
August, 2008: Israel RELEASES 198 terrorists to encourage diplomatic relations and support Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas.
December, 2008: Israel RELEASES 224 terrorists.
In 2011, the Israeli government RELEASES 1,027 terrorists in exchange for captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, held hostage for over five years in Gaza.
August, 2013: The Israeli Cabinet agrees on a four-stage process by which 104 terrorists WILL BE RELEASED as part of a “confidence-building measure” just to get Mahmoud Abbas to the negotiating table.
Too many to enumerate in this post, a comprehensive list of all the victims of Arab terror since 1993 can be found at this link, http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Terrorism/victims.html
Too many to enumerate in this post, a comprehensive list of all the victims of Israel’s activities connected with the occupation since 1993 (and before) can be found at this link, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_casualties_of_war
Prime Ministers of Israel, to negotiate with an adversary while constantly changing the nature of the territory under contention by building new settlements is a no-win situation. The past two decades have clearly proven that no confidence building measures will help when the mindset of the government is to undermine that very confidence, all the time.
And above all, setting our murderers free before a final agreement is reached and forsaking the security of your own people by continuing the settlement enterprise unabated is wicked and reckless.
We are indeed alone. Alone by the choice of our heads of government who have lost all common sense.
Only different leaders will be able to build our morale. Only different leaders will save the State of Israel so it can remain a safe haven for the Jewish people.