The disparate views that Israelis, as compared with Palestinian Arabs, have of the removal of the Israeli towns and the way the Arabs immediately converted those suburbs and farms and greenhouses into launch pads for deadly missiles are strikingly irreconcilable to anyone who ponders on the subject as we do.
The New York Times today introduces an intriguing theory: the Arabs are doing it because they believe in a creating a balance of fear. Hard to comprehend? Here's a sample:
Why, then, do the Palestinians persist in firing the crude, inaccurate rockets when there is virtual certainty that the damage they inflict will be far less than the punishment they will suffer?
Palestinians in Gaza offer a host of reasons, all based on the emotion of the conflict rather than the logic of warfare.
"We know we can't achieve military equality," said Salah Bardawil, a Palestinian legislator who serves as spokesman for the Hamas faction in parliament. "But when a person suffers huge pain he has to respond somehow. This is how we defend ourselves. This is how we tell the world we are here."
Palestinians often talk about their rockets and suicide bombings creating a "balance of fear" with Israel, even if they cannot match Israel's weaponry.
"Why should we be the only ones who live in fear?" said Muhammad Abu Oukal, a student at the Islamic University in Gaza City. "With these rockets, the Israelis feel fear, too. We will have to live in peace together, or live in fear together."
The Times article includes this brief quote from an Israeli source that really says it all:
"We left Gaza," Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan said. "There can be no possible justification for launching these rockets, and we cannot tolerate a situation where they are being fired at our citizens every day."
Read the rest of it here. (Registration required.)
Sometimes, you get the feeling that the insanity of the Palestinian Arab leadership - its self-destructiveness, its vanity, its grotesque mockery of what leadership responsibility really means - all comes down to a case of history's most acute and long-lasting chip on the shoulder. Fifty-eight years after the infant State of Israel embarked on one of the greatest rehabilitation projects of all time, most of our Arab neighbours are still too busy nursing hurt feelings to even start thinking about building hospitals, orchestras, decent housing or a future for their children.
Lest we be accused of gross generalization, let's make clear that we're not including Arafat's widow Suha (pictured weeping at the funeral of the husband she had physically avoided for 3 years while ensconced in her $11,000 per day hotel suite in Paris), or any other members (Nabil Shaath is a fine example) of the Arafat kleptocracy in this. For decades, they have managed to look out for their own interests with enormous distinction. You might even say they made out like thieves.
When a person suffers "huge pain" like the parliamentarian quoted in the Times says he has, it's a tragedy - for us and for his children, if not for him - he can't see how much of that pain is self-inflicted.
UPDATE: One lone voice from the Arab world seems to share that viewpoint. An op-ed piece published today in Al-Watan, a Kuwaiti non-government daily paper, points out that Hamas bears the real responsibility for Israel's current incursion into the Gaza Strip. Fuad al-Hashem says Hamas continued to fire rockets at Israel after Israel voluntarily withdrew from Gaza, making Israel's decision to shell Gaza 'natural'. Al Hashem calls on leaders in the Hamas movement to concern itself with rebuilding Gaza (a strikingly novel position to take) and address the real issues for the Palestinian people. "Then the 'Summer Rain' will stop falling," he writes.