INDEPENDENT NEWS

Feedback: Sludge Report #94 Responses

Published: Mon 13 Aug 2001 10:34 AM
Re: Sludge Report #99 As Night Follows Day
Right On
Once again you seem to be the ONLY news outfit that isn't afraid to tell it like it is
Cheers Guys
Zac
***
Recent article - reference to Sludge Report #94
Dear Sludge,
I read your column for the first time today. While I can understand the rationale for assigning some of the blame to the Israelis for fanning the flames in the Middle East, the message that I infer from the column is that the Israelis are ENTIRELY to blame for yesterday's Jerusalem suicide bombing. If my interpretation is correct, your opinion is extremely short-sighted and shows little understanding of some of the subtleties of Middle East politics.
There have been so many reprisals from each side, that to establish a cause-and-effect is a fool's game. Let's see...the Jerusalem bombing was in response to Israeli rocket attacks, which were in response to attacks on West Bank/Gaza settlers and suicide bombings, which were in response to...I could continue, but I daresay, it would probably go back too far to keep track. Let's suffice to say that both sides are guilty of exacerbating the conflict.
In the Middle East, though, to refrain from showing strength is equivalent to showing weakness. There is a tribal mentality that goes back thousands of years: with limited resources in an unforgiving climate and with lots of warring factions, only the strong survive. Given that neither side is willing to ratchet it down, and each side knows the other's likely response, the end result is a rising stream of violence that has little end in sight.
That being said, there is a marked difference between the Israelis and the Palestinians in terms of the INTENT of each side's reprisals. The Israelis are attempting to kill those responsible for the Palestinian reprisals - the Palestinian 'soldiers' in this war. For the most part their execution of this strategy has been successful, but at times they have failed when they inadvertently killed civilians, including children. These unintended deaths are abominable but not deliberate on their part.
The Palestinians, however, are attempting to kill Israeli civilians, which is both abominable AND deliberate. To bomb a pizza parlor in a pedestrian civilian high-traffic location, with babies in strollers, shows that the goal is to inflict as much pain as possible on innocent people. Babies in strollers, you can be sure, have not attacked Palestinians with rockets, nor subjugated them to second-class citizenship. In my opinion, the Israeli response is a measured one, one that shows both strength and restraint. The Israeli government has the power to flatten the Palestinian people (in the same way that President Assad of Syria flattened his own city of Hama in 1982) but they have not done so. Why? Because the Israelis are not barbarians in the same way that Assad was. The Israelis do not celebrate in the streets when a senior Hamas official is targeted and killed. They do not celebrate when Palestinian police headquarters are subjected to rocket attacks. Yet the Palestinians dance joyfully at the sight of charred baby strollers, blood and carnage in Jerusalem. Both approaches are reprisals, but there is a strong difference between them, and to assign all blame to Israel is to blissfully ignore the Palestinians' undeniable responsibility for having helped create the current situation. Wake up and smell the coffee.
I only wish I could think of a solution to this terrible situation.
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