Conservative columnist Robert Novak probably dislikes Israel as much as Jimmy Carter did before Carter started hating Israel. In this column, Novak does Carter one better by suggesting that the current situation on the West Bank is worse than apartheid.
Novak bases this view on the fact that the construction by Israel of the security wall has fragmented the territory, causing hardship for Palestinians and making a “two-state solution” increasingly difficult. Novak acknowledges that the wall has led to “virtual elimination of suicide bombings and short-term peace.” But he seems disturbed that Palestinans deaths due to the conflict with Israel have increased while Israeli deaths have declined. How unsporting of Israel to have implemented security measures that protect Israelis from violence at the expense of their attackers.
Novak’s column illustrates why the West Bank has nothing to do with apartheid. That institution was developed in South Africa for the purpose of dscriminating against blacks because of their race. The security measures that apply to the West Bank were a response to the spate of suicide bombings that terrorized Israel. But for that wave of terrorism, there would be no fence. But for Palestinian attacks, Bethlehem, to which Novak devotes the last part of his column, would still resemble the peaceful, open, and relatively prosperous town I visited on several occasions in the 1980s.
Nor is this a case of the many paying a price for the isolated actions of the few. Public opinion polls show widespread support among Palestinians for the indiscriminate killing of Israelis (and for al Qaeda’s attacks on the West). The electoral success of Hamas confirms the findings of such polls.
Bad decision have consequences. The decision to use terror to enhance the Palestinian negotiating position with Isreal was a bad decision whose consequences are now clear. For Israel to pull back from the security measures it has instituted to protect its citizens from Palestinian terrorism would also be a bad decision.
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