WHO WANTS PEACE?

By Stewart Weiss

(August 19) - We live in an age of cliches. Here in the Middle East, we are inundated with catchphrases, most of which tend only to trivialize our situation and obscure the whole truth. Take, for example, the "cycle-of-violence" cliche, which falsely implies that all acts of bloodshed operate on the same moral level, differentiating not a whit between provocative first acts of terror and subsequent responses of justified self-defense.

Or consider the "legitimate rights" cliche used widely by pompous know-it-alls around the globe. This sentiment equates the "suffering" of Jews and Palestinians alike, and invariably concludes by demanding a separate state for each as the only "fair" solution. Never mind the history of the region, whereby the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected in theory and practice the notion of a sovereign Jewish state - the cliche has spoken, and reality be damned.

Then there is the oft-repeated mantra of "there is no military solution" to our conflict. Nonsense. Virtually all the major international disputes of the past century have been resolved either through force of arms - such as in the Spanish Civil War, World War II, or the Gulf War - or when one side unilaterally capitulated, as in Vietnam or Afghanistan. Negotiated settlements of any reasonable success are few and far between.

But I want to debunk another famous cliche. How often have you heard politicians and pedestrians alike declare, "Of course I want peace; everyone wants peace!" Well, I am on record as saying that it's not true; not everyone wants peace. I don't want peace.

Now it's true that Jewish tradition places the ideal of "peace" on a very high pedestal. We are bidden to sue for peace, and we are taught that it is preferable to pray for the removal of sin rather than the demise of the sinner. And we have, on numerous occasions, negotiated with hostile nations and signed treaties with them. Egypt started three wars against us and caused thousands of casualties, and Jordan burned down every synagogue in the Old City, yet we managed to reconcile with them.

Yet there is also ample precedent for refusing to make peace with certain nations that are particularly heinous and evil. The high moral character of Israel precludes accommodating those cultures whose national behavior is antithetical to the most basic fundamentals of human decency.

Thus we are told in the Torah to refuse treaties with idolatrous nations living in our midst, and we were commanded to wage all-out war on nations such as Midian and Amalek, which went beyond the bounds of normative military procedure and intractably rejected coexistence with us.

Opposition to these debased entities was a spiritual imperative: "God and evil cannot share the same world," say the rabbis of the Midrash, "as long as the wicked rule, the Holy One blessed be He cannot sit on His throne."

I cannot justify making peace with a Palestinian people who revel in the death of children; who pass out sweets and dance in the street when suicide bombers blow up families out having lunch or sipping coffee. I have no room in my heart, no pity and no mercy, for those who scream for Saddam Hussein to send anthrax-tipped missiles raining down on Tel Aviv; who raise bloody hands in glee after beating to death innocent reservists, who celebrate the butchering of young Koby Mandell as an "act of Arab heroism."

The lack of any voice of moderation or peace among the Palestinians, the overwhelming approval of the Palestinian public for continued suicide bombings of civilians, the denial of a Jewish history in Jerusalem or the right of Jews to live securely anywhere in Israel, convinces me that this is not an enemy who either wants or deserves peace. Though we may share a common border, I need have no more tolerance for these villains than Britain or France had for the Nazis.

In a Jerusalem hospital, teenager Michal Eliav is courageously recovering from the wounds she suffered in last week's Sbarro bombing in Jerusalem. No fewer than 18 pieces of metal - nuts and bolts packed by the murderer into his explosive belt - penetrated her body. Doctors extracted 17; one, lodged too close to her spinal cord to remove safely, remains a permanent reminder of how low humanity can sink.

Family members relate that when psychologists who wished to help her cope with the trauma visited Michal, she dismissed them with a wave of her hand. "I don't need them," the young woman said bravely.

If we, however, continue to treat barbaric enemies with compassion and consideration; if we pursue a "peace policy" with those who remain unalterably committed to our total annihilation, then we are the ones who need a psychologist.

(The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra'anana.)



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