Dolan: Stop terror, end occupation

Mike Furno

Let’s get this straight once and for all: we all agree that suicide bombing is a bad idea. We also probably agree that shooting little kids who throw rocks at soldiers is wrong. And most of us probably agree that bombing refugee camps, shopping malls and settlements looks pretty bad. Thus we all understand that groups like Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, which each claim responsibility for terrorist attacks on Israeli settlements, are criminal and often a little sadistic.

Now let’s get something else straight: the majority of the Palestinian people are not members of either of these terrorist groups! The refugees who huddle in camps because their towns have been destroyed by Israeli military shellings are not terrorists. The little kids who have to go out and play in war zones are not military combatants. A rock is not a real weapon when thrown by these little kids. Also, bulldozing houses to search for suspected terrorists is probably not the most proactive way to fight terror.

Yasser Arafat is an interesting character, and has been in the middle of the Israel/Palestine conflict for a long time. He is the leader of the Palestinian Authority, but he is not the leader of Hamas or Islamic Jihad. These groups are not his armies or his special terrorist forces. Most analysts agree now that he does not have control over these terrorist groups. Blaming terrorist actions on the leader of the Palestinian people is ridiculous; it’s like blaming the actions of Timothy McVeigh on our own government because they failed to control militia groups. Arafat has actually been integral to peace negotiations and these terrorist groups have unfortunately been to blame for the collapse of peaceful negotiation.

What Israel, Palestine and the rest of the world need to do is agree on returning to 1967 borders, establishing the Palestinian state and ending the occupation. If they do that, the rest of the Arab world has pledged to recognize Israel as a nation, which has been an underlying fear for most pro-Israel supporters.

Unfortunately, the Israeli policy of settlements in the occupied territories has not only angered and disheartened the Palestinian people who used to live on the settlement land, but it has also made it increasingly difficult for Israel to return to pre-occupation borders. What we all have to realize is that the civilized world gave up “conquering” awhile back. We need to understand that taking someone’s land because you beat them in a war and then kicking them off the land to build condominiums and shopping malls is not very civilized.

Ending such injustice by allowing the Palestinian people to get back on their land and out of refugee camps would do a lot to end terrorism in Israel. Terrorism often exists when people have no hope but to lash out. If we give these people hope rather than shoot their children or bomb their villages, as is often the method of so-called “counter-terrorism” efforts, we just might be able to counter terrorism in a peaceful and just way.