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Comments on the Tel Aviv Suicide Bombing –
A Response to a Letter by Ami Isserof
By Nasser Abufarha

June 2, 2001

Ami Isserof's 'appeal' to Palestinian peace negotiators and peace activists is more of a threat to bow down to the Israeli will than an invitation to dialog toward coexistence.

Like most of the Israeli left, Ami looks at the suicide bomb attack last night in Tel Aviv as the crisis rather than a symptom of the actual crisis, namely over 50 years of displacement, humiliation, deprivation, and violation of freedom and human rights of the Palestinians.

Ami warns that this 'incident' "killed about 15 young people directly, but it may soon kill many more indirectly." Are these 15 deaths not the indirect result of the continuation of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people?

As a strong advocate of democratic coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis, I am not one to condone violence on either side. However, focusing on who condemns such acts wholly misses the point.

It is not about 'legitimizing violence' as Ami suggests. It is about looking deeper at the causes underlying such violence. No one can order violence to stop nor will it stop by condemning it. It will only stop when the desperate situation is resolved.

For the suicide bomber coming from Gaza who has been robbed of his livelihood and dignity and sees no future for himself, his family, or his children, life has become worse than death such that he was willing to sacrifice himself to make that statement.

We can condemn his tactics all we want, but if we ignore the roots of the crisis, the violence will only spiral out of control with our accusations. Ironically, it is perhaps Ami and the Israeli left that give the suicide bomber legitimacy since it is only with his attack that they feel a sense of urgency about the crisis, even if they miss the point.

Ami continues in her letter stating, "Never mind that more Palestinians than Israelis were killed. Never mind about holy rocks and illegal settlements and olive trees. The Palestinians may be about to lose everything."

It does matter how many people are dying. Holy rocks do matter. So do illegal settlements and olive trees. But according to Ami, we should not complain about what we have already lost, but rather bow down before we "lose everything." What haven't we lost and who is Ami to threaten us with the might of her government not to "lose everything?"

Ami suggests the current crisis is about "dead kids." It is not about "dead kids", Palestinian or Israeli. It's about life and the future of our kids. It is about the denial of Palestinians' lives, the lives of their parents and grandparents, and the denial of a future for Palestinian and Israeli kids.

Ami looks to Palestinian and Israeli leaders to pull us out of this crisis. With all due respect, have either side's leaders demonstrated any genuine commitment to peace? Where are their democratic agendas that recognize the mutual needs and interests of both sides? We should not wait for them.

But first we need to move beyond the "ideological games" Ami claims we are finished with, the greatest of which is the ideological game of Israeli society's commitment to the idea of a Jewish state in a land inhabited equally by non-Jews.

This 'state' of Israel was created and has survived in this form on the credit card of history. This card has allowed Israel to get away with placing itself above basic principles of human and democratic rights for over 50 years. Palestinians had no part in previous historical violations against the Jews, and yet have paid the highest price for the world's debt.

So when Ami addresses the Palestinians, "Maybe it is up to you" to bring about a "miracle," I can only say, the miracle must come from within Israeli society to face the inherent contradiction of their state. Only then can I, the Palestinian, and you, the Israeli, formulate the agenda of peace based on mutual respect for democratic and human rights for all.

Nasser Abufarha

Alternative Palestinian Agenda

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