Do Palestinians want peace? Of course they do: Hard- working civilians with children to support always want peace. But the terrorists who claim to represent them want war instead. Every time peace negotiations begin--or are even suggested--there's another suicide bomb attack on Israeli civilians, which is calculated to make Israel resume military attacks.
When we look at the actions of both the Israelis and the Palestinians over the past few years, we see that bad things have been done by both sides. However, the Israelis are fighting a military war with conventional soldiers and armaments, while the Palestinians, at least those who claim to be acting for them, are using naive, brainwashed youths as their weapons. I've read articles saying, "One side uses guns and tanks, the other side uses suicide bombers, what's the difference?" But there's a big difference.
The Palestinian terrorist's weapon of choice is essentially immoral: human beings. When the horror of brainwashing innocent young men and women and turning them into suicide bombers is brought up, Palestinian defenders say, "Yes, but the Israelis have tanks and guns and we don't." That's true, but it can't be an excuse for such gross immorality. There are other methods that have been successfully employed by unarmed fighters: Ghandi freed India from colonialism with non-violent resistance and Martin Luther King Jr. began the civil rights movement the same way.
Also, the suicide bombers target women, children and the elderly as they go about their daily lives. Terrorism is essentially different from regular war because terrorists intentionally target civilians instead of other soldiers. Civilian lives are always lost in war, which is the reason we try to avoid it at all costs. Civilians are killed when bombs fall on cities, even though they're aimed at government headquarters or military installations. Sometimes soldiers kill civilians in frustration or because they're harboring enemy soldiers, but this is not military policy. Civilized governments have always believed that targeting innocent women and children in wartime is wrong.
A few years ago, when Israel and Palestine were in serious negotiations, Israel offered Yasser Arafat almost everything he wanted, but he still refused to negotiate and went home empty-handed. For him, it was all or nothing, and it appears to be that way for the terrorists who are behind the suicide bombers as well. They want an end to Israel and will not compromise, and without compromise, there can be no peace.
South Africa learned this lesson when, after years of apartheid, they allowed black Africans to become part of the government. The white settlers always said that when they arrived in South Africa, the land was empty and no blacks were there. This was true, but times had changed, and the country became filled with black workers who wanted basic human rights. White South Africans finally realized that they had to deal with the here-and-now reality because they could never return to the past.
The same situation exists in the Middle East today. The Palestinians want the "right of return," which means the area should return to the way it was before Israel was established. But you can't go back in time, you can only deal with the situation as it is today. Anyone who's not willing to do this only wants to score points for their ideology, not make peace. The sad truth is that Israelis need Palestinians (and vice- versa) the way the US and Europe need immigrants, even though our governments complain about them. They do necessary work and fill needed job vacancies. This is why a partition between a Palestinian state and a smaller Israel won't work: Israel has the jobs and Palestine has the workers.
I think the vast majority of the Palestinians do want peace. They're being held hostage not only by the Israelis, but by the terrorists who promote suicide bombing. Peace can't come to that battered land until Palestinians stop rejoicing every time some kid straps on a bomb and detonates himself, along with Israeli teenagers, in a pizza parlor. Peace can only come when Palestinians denounce suicide bombing because they no longer want these kinds of immoral acts to be carried out in their name.
And I think this will happen soon, because civilians always want to live in peace, and the Palestinians are no exception.
NOTE: This Diary entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.