There is no doubt that Palestinian violence is both immoral and irrational. But the preponderance of responsibility lies with Israel and with American Jews who continue to obscure the basic realities and history of the Palestinian people. It also lies with those who treat the death of Israeli soldiers enforcing a brutal occupation as somehow more outrageous than the killing of many times as many Palestinian teenagers resisting the occupation.
It might appear to many Americans - and American Jews, in particular - that, over the past few years, Israel has made significant concessions to the Palestinians. This is simply not the case. In fact, since taking office, Barak has expanded existing settlements, built new roads in to the West Bank and defended settler's rights to remain in the new Palestinian state. This Palestinian state would then have within it a group of violent Israeli nationalists who have been open in their hatred for all things Palestinian and Arab. Thus, Israel's offer to the Palestinians of 90 percent of the West Bank is entirely disingenuous.
But, these geopolitical concerns are not the heart of the matter. The central fact is that Israelis and American Jews have coldly failed to recognize as significant the huge number of Palestinians killed, wounded, tortured, jailed and/or made homeless by the Israelis during the past 52 years. Nor has Israel ever acknowledged responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians driven out of Israel in 1948, many of whose descendants today live in refugee camps.
None of this justifies Palestinian violence. But it does suggest that Israelis and American Jews must both acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinians as unique and horrendous and take at least partial responsibility for this suffering. But mere words are cheap. Israel must also show good faith when asking for forgiveness from the Palestinians by ending the occupation and eliminating the apartheid-style laws that discriminate against Arab Israelis.
Finally, a personal note: I am a religious Jew with family and friends in Israel. This violence pains me, and I often am filled with rage toward the Palestinians. But, nowadays, more often than not, I am filled with pain and rage directed toward my own people. Our inability to recognize another people's pain, our failure to treat Palestinians and Israeli Arabs with respect and fairness and our hardhearted and bloodthirsty calls for revenge are turning us into the very monsters from whom we have fled for the past 2,000 years. Our true heritage and faith demands that we struggle to ensure that every human being, including our enemies, be treated with equal dignity, respect and compassion.
The length rule was waived.