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End of Hudna
Last uploaded : Wednesday 20th Aug 2003 at 11:13
Contributed by : The Editor


To accompany this editorial please read this news article:


It refers to a bomb-planner arrested today who was released from an Israeli prison in March.

It was only a matter of time before the ?hudna? or temporary cessation of terror by Palestinian militants, would collapse. The 19 August homicide blast that killed twenty unarmed innocent civilians on two buses in Jerusalem was cited as revenge for the killing last week in Hebron by Israel of a major militant operator, Mohammed Sidr.

Even as recently as the nineteenth century, English authorities strapped criminals inside cruel body armour and in the stocks in the town squares and in main thoroughfares in cities to warn others of the consequences of wrongdoing. If you think I am exaggerating, just visit The London Dungeon to see what was done to criminals. Men and women who became ringleaders of thieves, muggers and murderers were handed out appropriate sentences. Yes, most of these wrongdoers were impoverished and defeated from birth by the British class system.

However, as a former peace campaigner I never cease to be bewildered by the variety of circumstances in which Middle Eastern terror evolves. The nineteen hijackers of September 11, 2001 were reported to have come from affluent backgrounds. Osama bin Laden and many of his followers are or have been millionaires. Conversely, some of the Hamas bombers come from large, poor families living in camps perpetuated by their leaders determined one day to see the destruction of the ?Zionist entity.?. (How many Jews do you know who live in camps? Can one ever imagine the Jewish Agency, World Jewish Relief or WIZO allowing one Jew to live this way?) Some homicide bombers are highly educated young people with a promising life ahead of them. So the analogy between militants who set out to kill and maim, I suppose, does not quite work when put alongside the Englishman in the stocks.

When I spent a length of time in Israel making a documentary, Yitzhak Rabin had put in place unprecedented milestones in the peace process known as ?Oslo.? When there was a bomb or kidnapping he turned the other cheek and carried on with King Hussein, Yasser Arafat and Hosni Mubarak in talks spearheaded by Bill Clinton, Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and Warren Christopher. This all seemed remarkable to the world. Did it work? No. On the one hand, bombs, carnage and mayhem abounded to unprecedented levels against Israelis during Oslo. Then a religious Jew killed Rabin -- a double- whammy.

With what does this leave us? A series of conservative Israeli leaders (and I include Labour?s Barak in this category) made it clear that terror would not be tolerated. Oslo had led to the near-finalisation of Palestinian statehood, but when Barak tried to pursue this road even as the hideous al Aqsa Intifadah was raging, Arafat decided to abandon what (to some) he endearingly used to call ?the peace of the brave? and pursue the road of bloodshed.

What is my point? Since the Intifadah of September 2000 the world has seen 9/11 and other less spectacular atrocities unfold; it is no coincidence that 12 October 2000, the same day the USS Cole was attacked by al Qaeda and Josef Avrahami and Vadim Norzitch were slaughtered in Ramallah, was ?commemorated? two years later by the Bali bombing. (Wouldn?t it be nice if in the name of Allah a ?commemoration? of peace and reconciliation could be organised by the leaders of the Arab world?)

My point: every day I read and watch the world blaming Israel, the Jews, the American Zionist lobby and now the Bush Christian Right for the ?desperate? acts of terrorists. I have yet to comprehend why during Oslo the endless stream of terror was not blamed on Bill Clinton, the Jews, Israel and the American Zionist lobby. A new, evil anti-Semitism has arisen since the wicked Durban Conference of September 2001 -- an Israel- bashing, Jew-baiting event that will live in infamy for Jews, from peace activists to the Right -- and this new evil seeks to blame Jews and their supporters for acts of mass murder.

I am not happy about the wall around Israel nor am I pleased about the law preventing Palestinians who marry Israelis from being granted Israeli citizenship. However, what worry me most are two things: 1)the endless hand-wringing in the media about the cruelty of Israel with no mention, ever, of the lack of leadership in the Arab world and 2) the obsessive hatred -- most particularly in the British media but now creeping into the American liberal press -- of the so-called ?Jewish lobby? (seven million American Jews, 80% of whom are staunch Democrats and members of the Progressive movement? they run America? Do me a favour!); this comprises a frightening phenomenon when added together.

Events like the bus bombing are planned and organised by evil people who were doing exactly the same thing when the noble Israel of Oslo was handing back lands, withdrawing its troops from lands won in a bloody war of survival, and when its leaders were winning the Nobel Peace Prize. The August 19 bombing was executed by a mature, well-dressed middle class Imam and teacher,Raed Abdel Misk.

Just as Iraq does not deserve to descend into the same river of blood as has Israel, it is time for the immensely wealthy and vast empires of Arabia to lead as ben Gurion, Gandhi and Mandela did. The leaders of a billion people can put a stop to terror, to the oppression of women and to the oppression of their very own people . Are bread riots in Jordan Israel?s fault? Is the miserable median wage in Egypt George Bush?s fault? Is the abject poverty in many Muslim countries American Jewry's fault?

Under the ?road map? Israel, under one of the most right-wing leaders it has ever elected, caved in and implemented measures that any other sovereign nation would think folly. Imagine if Canada or Mexico said that they would resume killing Americans on buses if the USA did not release thousands of their wrongdoers from American jails. (At least Canada and Mexico have leaders. )

Let us pray that Abu Mazen can withstand what must be unbearable pressures from the militants amongst his people and emerge as a leader who rises above murder. At present his chances do not look promising.


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