Monday, February 25, 2008

Israel's Supreme Court and the "Cycle of Violence"

In an unprecedented criticism by a high government official on Israel's High Court, Professor Daniel Friedman boldly (Justice Minister) notes that the court has become a politicized power center allied with Meretz (a far left party) and the Arabs. When one of these parties becomes frustrated with the democratic parliamentary process in dealing with its agenda, it can appeal to "Bagatz" in order to bypass the government. Not a week goes by without the court ordering the government to do or not do something. The court's judges even lobby by releasing statements and meeting with public officials and journalists in order to influence the political process. This is without parallel in any democratic country. Shame on Israel. We wish Professor Friedman success in his attempts to reform the court.

Lately, we are again hearing statements by some Israeli and European officials regarding the need to stop the "cycle of violence" between Israel and the Palestinians. These statements result from the same "original sin", that error in thinking, that brought about our dismal supreme court behavior: That we are in control of, and subsequently at fault for everything that happens around us. The Arabs hate us? Its our fault. Hamas in power and they're attacking us? Its our fault. The Palestinians' misery? Yep, it's us again. In other words, we're adopting the narrative of our enemy. This is not unlike Europe's appeasement of Hitler before the war.

What does a "cycle of violence" mean? It implies that two sides, unable to control themselves, perpetrate violence against each other, bringing about inevitable reactions. It is a subtle attempt to put Israel on par with the Palestinians, and in fact places most of the blame on Israel, since we are the stronger side and thus in control. But let's look at the situation and see why this is a fallacy.

The Palestinians are divided into 2 main camps: one that is nationalist and strives for a state, and the other which is Islamic and pre-nationalist. The former movement has not renounced violence as a means to achieving its goals, and continues to engage in terrorist attacks. The latter effectively controls the Palestinian public and political atmosphere. This Islamic stream (along with their brethren in other Arab countries) has an ideology and policy of "resistance", i.e. military aggression, violence and terrorism, to achieve its goal of elimination of the Jewish State. In other words, its violence is in response to Israel's existence. So if we can call our existence as "violence" than indeed this is a cycle of violence: we exist and they attack us. I wonder how we can get out of that "cycle". We know what their solution is. It goes without saying that Israel's military reactions are defensive operations, made necessary by Palestinian aggression, whose sole purpose is to defend its citizens. Needless to say, Israel is able to control its actions, unlike the Palestinians who themselves admit that they are unable to control their militants (unless, of course, we give in to their demands).

Occasionally, one can attribute a localized "flareup" to a cycle of action and response. But to attempt to characterize the overall violence as a "cycle of violence", is tendentious and an outright lie. It is an intentional misrepresentation of the conflict whose purpose is to absolve the Palestinians of their responsibilities and to place the burden on Israel to break the "cycle of violence".

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