First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
Are Israelis the Palestinian Police?
It looks like the "roadmap to peace" isn't leading anywhere.
Or is it?
By all appearances, we're back to business as usual in Israel and Palestine.
After a hopeful honeymoon with Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, in which Hamas and Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups agreed to a truce, a bus bomb seems to have blown up the peace process along with the human victims.
Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad were quick to claim credit for the bus bomb. But when Israel responded by blowing up a leader of Hamas, the terrorists got all huffy and declared that the truce was over.
Truce? Over? If Hamas was sponsoring bus-bombings, then there was no ceasefire.
The terrorist leaders are so used to lying and having everybody pretend that their words still mean something that they no longer even pretend to have any kind of consistency or honor or even common sense.
And, as usual, the anti-Israeli media were quick to find a way to blame Israel. Apparently, you see, the Hamas leader that Israeli soldiers eliminated was a "moderate," so now Israel was leaving only the "hardliners" in charge of Hamas.
Get a clue, folks! There are no moderates in Hamas. An actual moderate wouldn't live for five minutes within the Hamas organization. There are only terrorists who think it might be beneficial to have an occasional hiatus in the killing in order to secure a temporary advantage, and terrorists who think the killings should continue without interruption.
But that doesn't mean that there aren't any moderates in Palestine.
The fact is that Palestinians are human beings, which means that despite the pressure to outwardly conform, most of them are heartily sick of all the conflict and killing and would much rather things settled down to a normal kind of life where nobody gets killed and people just do their jobs and raise their families.
However, if you actually say something like that in Palestine today, you'll be ostracized at best, probably beaten up, and maybe killed.
Because Palestine, despite all the recent show of democracy, is still a dictatorship, and Yasser Arafat is still the dictator.
That's because despite Abu Mazen's lovely title and all his meetings with foreign dignitaries and all the media coverage of his every word, Yasser Arafat's boys have all the guns and aren't afraid to use them.
Arafat allows Mazen to act like he's in charge outside of Palestine, but inside, Arafat has no intention of releasing his iron grip.
When Arafat wanted to appoint Jibril Rajoub as Palestine's national security "adviser," he did it, without asking Abu Mazen's advice, let alone his permission.
So the peace process is all over, right? Arafat is taking back control and it's terrorism as usual, with the back and forth retaliations between Israel and the terrorists that we've known for so many years ...
Maybe, just maybe, there's something else going on.
Maybe Abu Mazen, realizing that Yasser Arafat's "security forces" will never cooperate in the suppression of terrorist groups (since they're terrorists themselves), and realizing that there is no hope for peace until the Palestinian government is able to control or eliminate all the gun- and bomb-wielding forces inside its territory ...
Maybe Abu Mazen is using the Israeli military as his police force.
No, I'm not suggesting some treasonous, under the table deal between Mazen and Sharon.
All I'm suggesting is that Mazen is not an idiot. He knows he has no military force that obeys him. But he also knows that the only reason he was allowed to assume his office was because Israel had Arafat and the other terrorists up against a wall.
Hamas might be blustering right now about how Israel needs to "prepare coffins" as Hamas retaliates for Israel's retaliation for Hamas's truce-breaking bus bomb.
But the fact is that Hamas's leadership really hates it when their own guys are getting killed. It scares them to death.
Remember, Hamas's leaders aren't brave suicide bombers -- they're the cowards who send out other people's children as brave suicide bombers.
They themselves don't strap on bombs and go blow up Jewish children and other innocents.
So when Israel systematically targets Hamas's (and Islamic Jihad's, and Al Fatah's) leadership, they start screaming about how awful Israel is ... but they also look for a place to hide.
And where do they hide?
Behind Abu Mazen.
The best thing Israel can do to return their region to the "roadmap to peace" is not to stop.
If their current spate of attacks against Hamas's leadership is just retaliation, then they're wasting their time.
But if these attacks are part of a grim but thorough effort to eradicate the terrorist leadership, Israel must continue, relentlessly.
And the moderate Palestinians must continue to (quietly) support Israel's effort to liberate them from the dictatorship of the terrorists.
How do you think Israelis are finding out where these Hamas leaders are? Somebody's telling them.
Not Abu Mazen.
But ordinary Palestinians who hate what the terrorists have done in their names, and hate the way Palestinians have to live because of the terrorists -- some of them have found the courage to help the Israelis do what the Palestinians can't do for themselves: rid Palestine of the thugs who oppress them and commit atrocities in their name.
Abu Mazen must loudly protest against Israeli actions.
But if Sharon ignores the rhetoric and keeps on grinding away at the terrorist leaders -- and President Bush has the sense to let Sharon do his job and not try to pressure him into stopping, which is what the terrorists always count on the U.S. doing in order to save them -- then, eventually, Palestinian moderates will find themselves in a position to get control of their own country.
As long as the terrorist groups are able to operate from Palestinian territory and the Palestinian government can't stop them, no treaty made by the Palestinian government will mean a thing, and peace will be impossible.
Eventually, Abu Mazen (or his successors) must have Palestinian soldiers or policemen who obey the moderate civilian government and imprison or kill or exile the terrorist groups.
Until then, Abu Mazen's police force is the Israeli Army. They're the only armed force in Palestine that's doing what Mazen's government needs done.
Copyright © 2003 by Orson Scott Card.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.