By Pilar Rahola
Pilar RaholaI understand that you want to wipe us off the map, just don't expect us to help you attain that goal. The fact that this old sentiment - the gist of a line uttered by a caustic Golda Meir to the Palestinian leadership - is so relevant these days, gives us a sense of the scope of the tragedy the Holy Land has been suffering through for so many decades.
In fact, this same idea - the need for continued efforts to curb the intended destruction of Israel - lies behind the dramatic military decision made by the Israeli government, one that has again made it an object of wrath for so many around the world.
As Prof. Joan B. Culla said recently, there can be multiple reactions to the Israel Defense Forces' military incursion in the Gaza Strip, and some of these are justifiably critical. But, given the fact that hysterical reactions abound, lacking any semblance of calm reflection, and based strictly on Manichaeanism and prejudice, there are some questions that must be asked.
Ari Shavit wrote recently in Haaretz ("A Just but Tragic War," January 1) that "Operation Cast Lead is a just campaign" and that it is also a "tragic campaign." I disagree with the term "just," because, as Golda Meir also said, "We don't want wars, even when we win." A military incursion that causes dozens of deaths can never be considered just, even if it is aimed at the destruction of the Hamas military machine. But can it be considered inevitable?
Some intellectuals, including Amos Oz, have already warned that the Gaza incursion will lead to a significant new wave of anti-Israel sentiment. But even the Israeli left has taken a very lukewarm position about the incursion. The decision to attack Hamas was made by an Israeli society suffering from fatigue, fed up of not being able to find a way out, or reason for hope. And fed up, too, of the knowledge that the other side is working tirelessly to destroy it.
Here they are, then, the questions, directed particularly to those carrying signs proclaiming their hatred of Israel through the streets of our cities - most of them the usual suspects, from the certain ones belonging to the radical left, always ready to raise their fist against Israel, to the various sectors of Islamism. It's curious, in fact, this obscene partnership.
Those who go into the streets claim to do so in favor of the freedom of Palestine. Well, where have they been all these years, as the fundamentalist phenomena that oppressed the Palestinians were on the rise? Does Hamas have anything to do with freedom, or rather, doesn't it have everything to do with Islamism of a fascist tendency? Is freedom defended by training children to commit suicide attacks and by enslaving women? Is freedom defended by Iran, which supports Hamas financially? Does freedom belong to the terrorists of Hezbollah?
Those who protest in the streets also say they do so out of solidarity. Well, solidarity with whom? With Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, who has been less critical of the incursion than any European carrying a sign? With the Palestinians who do not agree with having the financial aid sent to their people being used to build armies and prepare bomb attacks? Do they wonder what happens to these funds? Does solidarity with the Palestinians mean defending terrorism and excusing Hamas' aggressions? Is peace defended by boosting Palestinian leaders who do not believe in it?
It is true that the intolerant left lives better by being anti-Israel. And it is also true that, in the face of complex realities, the vociferous masses prefer the simplicity of the "good" and the "bad." But, beyond prejudice, facts are stubborn. Israel withdrew from Gaza, leaving intact the economic structures it had created. Hamas destroyed them all, and took advantage of the withdrawal to prepare an army of destruction. And hundreds of missiles later, it continues its preparations.
The silence of this left, which is so loud today, has been very significant. What is happening in Gaza is tragic. But it did not start with the Israeli incursion. And to put all the blame on Israel is comfortable and simple, but useless. Because the main enemy of the Palestinian people comes from within.
Pilar Rahola is a Spanish-Catalan journalist. She writes a regular column for the Barcelona paper La Vanguardia, where this article originally appeared in Spanish.