A while back I read a Daniel Pipes column in which he discussed Sharon’s plan for a unilateral disengagement from Gaza.

He maintained that it was a bad idea and that it would lead to further violence because he believes that it demonstrates to Hamas and company that terror does work. I have wrestled with whether I agree with him or not many times.

In large part because I want to believe in humanity. I want to believe that the “opposition” is composed of people who just want to live and love like us and that we can find common ground.

But then I read of so many incidents and so many comments that make me think that this is just not so. This selection is worth considering:

“Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman: “All the Israeli statements about a withdrawal from Gaza Strip are due to the Palestinian resistance operations. We are completely confident that as the Hezbollah Organization managed to kick the Israeli forces out of Lebanon, the Palestinian resistance will kick them out of the Palestinian territories, and we will continue our resistance.” (June 28, 2004)

Avi Yisacharov of Voice of Israel Radio, joint author (with Amos Harel of Ha’aretz) of a forthcoming book, The Seventh War, a study of the Oslo War that erupted in September 2000 based in large part on interviews with Hamas leaders, yesterday said on Israel’s Channel One Television that Hamas leaders tell him: “It was the Israeli left and your peace camp that ultimately encouraged us to continue with our suicide attacks.” He then paraphrased their viewpoint in more detail, ending up with the Gaza withdrawal:

We tried, through our attacks, to create fragmentation and dissention within Israeli society, and the left-wing’s reaction was proof that this was indeed the right approach. When we heard about the “Pilots’ Letter” [from 27 Israel Air Force pilots who refused to take part in bombing missions against Palestinian terrorists], and the elite soldiers who refused to serve [in the West Bank and Gaza], it strengthened those in our camp who promoted the idea of suicide bombers…. The disengagement from Gaza is proof of our victory. The fact is that Sharon is willing to withdraw unconditionally, and is essentially raising a white flag and retreating. Only by force can we teach the other side what to do.

When I read this and similar comments I admit to being disappointed and somewhat disheartened. It is disappointing because you hope that there are moderates who rise to positions of leadership and then you see language like this and you realize that it is not good.

This leads to the disheartening realization that the killing will continue. Innocent blood will be shed on both sides and families will dawn mourning clothes. It doesn’t speak well for people.

And I am saddened because I know that if you ask me what I think I will tell you that force is going to be required. It is not the long term answer, but it is part of what will force the return of diplomacy. It may not be my son or daughter, but many of my cousins are going to be placed in harms way, so I am not completely untouched. Let alone the simple realization that I am sitting at a computer and typing about the death of people in such a cavalier fashion.

(September 10, 2004″)

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