Thursday, February 03, 2005

Oslo Redux: Another "historic opportunity" we should miss.

By Naomi Ragen

Caught in a bind of misconception and delusion, the government of Israel signed agreements that resulted in the death of a thousand civilians, and injuries to thousands more.

In the beginning, when the bombings first started, we were told that we would proceed anyway, and not let the terrorists acts interrupt this "historic opportunity" for peace. Again and again, we were told Arafat wasn't behind these acts, so it was okay to honor agreements with him even as our children died in the streets.

Each time there was a terrorist attack, I asked myself: have they had enough yet? Enough self-delusion? And when nothing was changed, I knew the answer was no. They needed more convincing. More dead.

And here we are, after everything we've been through, and it seems the answer to "have they had enough yet" is still no.

Mr. Sharon is now planning a giant "good-will gesture" to the new government of Abu Mazen, who demands that the jails let out the terrorists caught and jailed at so much risk to our soldiers lives. And Mr. Sharon has agreed to release 900. He's agreed to open the checkpoints. He's agreed to give over five West Bank cities to the Palestinian Authority, Jericho first. All this in anticipation of the "historic opportunity" of a meeting with Mubarak, King Abdullah and Abu Mazen next week.

All of these things have been tried. Cities turned over to the Palestinian Authority became bomb factories, and 23 Israeli soldiers were killed in Jenin alone trying to undo this "good will gesture." We tried opening the jails, and the prisoners, freed, went back to the only life they knew, killing Israelis. We tried opening checkpoints, and what we got were suicide bombers in our pizza parlors.

Today, a 15 year-old Palestinian was caught near Nablus with a four-kilo suicide belt. Grenades were thrown in Gaza at a military patrol, injuring two IDF soldiers. The rocket attacks continue unabated at Gush Katif. Nothing has changed in the Palestinian Authority. And apparently nothing has changed in the self-delusion of our new coalition government.

As a citizen of Israel who voted with the majority of Israelis to remove Mr. Peres and his Oslo junkies from power, it is with a sense of deep betrayal and bitterness that I see my government preparing us for the next round of slaughter, preparing once again to "experiment" with "historic opportunities" to get another thousand Jews murdered.

What my government should be doing now is demanding all illegal weapons be handed over, as was demanded by the British government of the IRA, and the Americans in Fallujah. It should be dismantling terror networks and demanding good will gestures from the Palestinians to convince Israelis they can now be trusted. One of these gestures could be the shutting down of the hate-filled television and radio stations. Removing the hate-filled textbooks from the classrooms. Demanding the turning over of all Hamas operatives. Instead, it does none of these things, because once again we are in a fake peace process that consists of one-sided Israeli concessions in exchange for more lame, baseless generalities about cease-fires.

Yes, a historic opportunity indeed to make the same fatal mistakes again. And when, I ask myself, will it finally be enough?


Naomi Ragen

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