|The Israeli peace camp:
Shattered by Palestinian bullets
Last week, Eyad Sarraj, veteran Palestinian advocate of non-violence,
called for an end to the intifadeh. He said, among other things: ""The
moment that we started to shoot was a tragic mistake." He noted that the
"Israeli peace camp has been shattered by Palestinian bullets."
It may not be an accident that Eyad Sarraj is a mental
health worker. He has been trained to know the difference between sanity
and insanity. His statement should have caused some rethinking on both
sides of the Green line. It has not. It caused scarcely a ripple, lost
in the headlines and the calls for demonstrations and news of more
violence and war plans.
This week's Time Magazine has a poignant article on the injured
Palestinian victims of the Intifadeh, apparently written by a
Palestinian correspondent. After the cheering is done, the thousands of
seriously injured find that they have ruined their lives for nothing, in
a society that is unable to take care of them, and are bitter about
their loss. They will not find work, they may not even have paved
streets where they can ride their wheelchairs. They may not even have
wheelchairs. Their pain and their wounds will remain with them forever.
They will never be whole again. The article did not touch on the
bereaved families of those who died. They will never be whole again
The PNA invests a large portion of its budgets in arms and fancy
automobiles and perks for privileged officials. A tiny trickle goes to
developing health services. Donations for health facilities evaporate.
Officials are indifferent. Health problems are used for propaganda
purposes, and the few that are helped became showcase victims.
At the beginning of the Intifadeh, an Israeli peace activist wrote "The
Palestinians needed the Intifadeh." Palestinian NGOs, even those
dedicated to dialog, encouraged the Intifadeh. But the Intifadeh only
proved once again the futility and immorality of violence.
It is obvious to all of us, that it is not possible to be for peace and
for the Israeli occupation at the same time. It is not possible to
condone, overlook, excuse, "explain" or encourage house demolitions and
land confiscations. When the Intifadeh induced Israeli reactions, we all
understood that we could not overlook, excuse or "explain" settlers
beating up Palestinians, soldiers shooting little children, tank shells
It was obvious to only a few from the start, that it is equally impossible
to be for peace and to condone, excuse, overlook or "explain" the
Intifadeh, the violence done to innocent Israelis, the cynical
manipulation of children and defenseless civilians.
The Palestinians needed the Intifadeh like they needed a hole in the head.
It did not bring, and cannot bring, justice, dignity or real hope to the
Palestinian people. It is, at best, an expression of frustration. At
worst, it may be the product of a cynical manipulation by a ruthless
One year after the start of the Intifadeh, and in the wake of the terrible
attacks in the US, we have to take time out from business as usual and
do some thinking. We, all of us - but especially those who are
dedicated, at least in name to peace and coexistence, need to examine
very carefully what we support, what we condone, and on what points we
remain silent. The way to peace is not through violence, hate, and
terror attacks. Sharon will not bring peace through violence, and
neither will the Tanzeem and the Hamas.
We cannot undue what has been done. We will not bring back the bright
hopes of yesteryear in a moment. It may take generations to erase the
damage done by the Intifadeh. For some, the damage is personal and
We need to stop listening to terrorists and to those who advocate violence
for political gain. We need to start listening to those who don't talk
much, don't have their own newspapers or parties, the silent sufferers
on both sides, and the people with broken lives - those who have
paid and are paying the price for the madness of the Intifadeh, the
madness of the occupation, the madness of the 80 year old chips on the
shoulders of two peoples.