No More Excuses for Gaza


September, 2005

Amid much dissention and psychological trauma, Israel has withdrawn all Israeli settlers from Gaza. Regardless of debates concerning who lived in Gaza first, or who should be entitled to live there now, or whether withdrawal will reward the terrorists, Israel has chosen to pull out. Right, wrong or otherwise, Gaza and its Palestinian residents are now put to the test: Are they civilized people and part of an enlightened culture, or are they uncivilized brutes unworthy of living in a free society?

Gaza’s citizens have just two choices: glorify hate and murder, or pursue productive enterprises and trade peacefully with their neighbors. The first will lead to death, destruction, poverty and suffering; the latter will lead to ever-growing opportunities and eventual prosperity. Past history does not lead us to be optimistic that they will make the right choice.

Hamas and its allied terrorist organizations have already declared Israel’s withdrawal as proof that terrorism works and they are hard at work preparing future attacks against Israel. Shortly after the withdrawal, senior Hamas commander Mohammed Deif pled-ged that terrorist attacks would continue until Israel is eradicated.

Terrorism is a business in the Muslim world. It attracts money and provides jobs. Like organized crime, it will flourish if society accepts it or is too fearful to oppose it. But opposition requires both courage and a firm basis for resistance, a basis that typically is rooted in the wisdom of past intellectual leaders and established cultural traditions.

Are such traditions present in the Arab/Muslim world? The answer is painfully obvious: If they ever existed, they are mostly absent today.

Just consider the lack of outrage expressed by Muslim leaders to the 9/11 attacks in this country and the accompanying silence of most U.S. Muslims to these attacks. Contemplate the general lack of respect for human rights in the Muslim world. Think about the lack of democratic institutions that support peaceful resolution of societal differences in Arab countries. Was there ever, or is there today, a Muslim Jefferson, or Madison, or Monroe?

For Gaza’s citizens, the responsibility to stand up to the terrorists in their midst is theirs. They have no more excuses.

Do Gaza’s citizens want peace and prosperity? If they want these, they must get off their knees and confront these cowardly Neanderthals. If they don’t, their silence can be construed as consent and they will share the terrorists’ guilt.

As for Israel, it has probably made the right choice. It has eliminated a vulnerable extension of its society; an extension that invited attacks and which was costly to defend. It has also eliminated an excuse for terrorism while calling the bluff of its critics: Let there be a Palestinian state in Gaza. If it continues to be a terrorist haven, Israel has every right to say, “we told you so” and crush it.