When the Israel Defense Forces withdrew from Gaza (taking with them civilian settlers), the Palestinians had an opportunity to set up a peaceful community that might encourage further accommodations from Israel. As Victor Davis Hanson observed in a recent column, "Gaza has plenty of natural advantages. It enjoys a picturesque coastline on the Mediterranean with sandy beaches and a rich classical history. There is a contiguous border with Egypt, the Arab world's largest country and spiritual home of pan-Arabic solidarity." Hanson mused imaginatively that Gaza could become another Singapore or Hong Kong. Instead the Palestinians immediately began a civil war among themselves, and after that, they began lobbing rockets and mortars into Israel. Somehow I doubt these people want peace. In fact, I suspect peace would be a disappointment to many of them.
A recent report, "The Global War on Terrorism: An Assessment," by Robert C. Martinage of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, illuminates the problem that Israel faces with Hamas and that the West faces with Islamic terror in general. Says Martinage, "Since the death of Muhammad in 632, Islamic history has been punctuated by many periods in which various heterodox sects have emerged and clashed violently with mainstream Muslims, as well as with the West." We are living through one of those periods. Whether Israel existed or not, these Islamic terrorists still would be with us.
All that Israel and the West can do is resist the terrorists, the best way being to go on the offensive. Withdrawing from Gaza certainly has not weakened the terrorists. It has made them and their Palestinian sympathizers more eager for violence. There is one sentiment, however, in this poll that I, for one, agree with: Negotiations have been of no benefit, at least not to those who want peace.
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