As I scan headlines about today’s bus bombing in Jerusalem, I can’t help but think this is all so predictable and so heartbreaking.
Hamas, worried about the popular discontent sweeping the Arab world and rising calls for rapprochement with Fatah, has for days been cranking up rocket and mortar attacks, apparently in the hope it would prod Israel to respond militarily.
Now, a bus bombing in central Jerusalem has hinted of the possibility of another all-out terror campaign against Israeli civilians.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, facing a frightened and angry Israeli public, undoubtedly has no choice but to respond with force – thereby giving Hamas exactly the distraction it wanted.
Civilians will die and be maimed, and people on both sides will see this as proof they can’t afford to give an inch to the other.
The Jewish left is already expressing horror at the Jerusalem bombing and will soon say it shows the need for an accelerated peace process, but will be unable to explain exactly how you get there when Hamas still controls Gaza, still has rockets and mortars and still has a vested interest in endless conflict.
The Jewish right will say “I told you so” and demand both tougher reprisals and an end to talk about negotiations, but will be unable to explain why decades of such responses have left Israel no more secure and ever more isolated.
Where are the regional leaders who can rise above the paralyzing emotions of the moment, think beyond parochial politics and provide new paradigms for peace?