To Terje Roed-Larsen
Jerusalem Post Editorial - Sep. 16, 2003
When the facts change, I change my mind what do you do, sir?
- John Maynard Keynes
Terje Roed-Larsen: When the facts change, what do you do, sir? Listening to your testimony at the UN Security Council this week, it was hard to escape the impression that nothing that happened in our region since the violent breakdown of the Oslo process seems to have registered with you.
Instead, you insist that what is needed is "a bold acceleration of the road-map process." In other words, more of the same. It perfectly encapsulates the tragic farce of the UN's approach.
Whether or not one approves of the "map," your intellectual integrity requires at least an honest accounting for its current tattered state. As usual, you opted for the easy way out by ostensibly apportioning equal blame. This is in itself a distortion of the truth. It lets the real aggressor off the hook, while magnifying out of all proportion the transgressions, real or alleged, of the victim.
In your briefing you did briefly and impassively allude to the suicide bombings in Israel, urging the Palestinian Authority to "bring to justice those who planned and carried out such attacks." You failed to mention that some of terrorism's masterminds are sheltered in Arafat's own Ramallah compound. Adding insult to injury, you defended Arafat as "democratically elected and, as such, the legitimate leader of the Palestinians. He embodies Palestinian identity and aspirations."
Your harshest condemnation is reserved for Israel. "Both during and after the unilateral cease-fire," you told your UN colleagues, Israel "continued to carry out extrajudicial killings, aimed at the leaders of Palestinian militant groups."
Your opposition to Israel's pinpoint strikes against terrorists "was compounded by the frequency with which such operations were carried out with disproportionate force in densely populated civilian areas, killing and injuring civilian bystanders in contravention of international humanitarian law."
One wonders how you define "disproportionate." Is the use of a targeted human bomb, packed with explosives and metal additives to augment injury to noncombatant bus passengers, proportionate? You should be reminded that the "militant" Hamas leadership, including its mentor Ahmed Yassin, escaped unscathed after the Jerusalem bus atrocity merely because Israel used a small charge so as not to destroy the building he was in, let alone harm residents of neighboring structures.
As to the frequency, you perhaps overlooked the fact that Israel chose not to respond to four suicide bombings which preceded the Jerusalem bus atrocity: in a private home at Kfar Ya'avetz murdering a grandmother; at a roadside grocery in Sde Trumot, murdering the proprietor; at a Rosh Ha'ayin supermarket, murdering a shopper; and at a bus stop in Ariel, murdering two would-be passengers. This is not counting the dozens of attempted attacks that were thwarted, and the fact that Israel suspended its targeted killings throughout a period in which the terrorist onslaught lessened, but by no means stopped.
None of this stops you. What went wrong, you say, is that "parallelism had not been emphasized... The principle of parallelism must be reasserted... without significant Israeli concessions related particularly to settlements and the separation wall, neither the peace process nor any peace-minded Palestinian leader would be credible in the eyes of the Palestinian people."
To our ears, your message to Israel amounts to this: If you are being attacked, it is because you are not conceding enough to your attackers. If only we made a properly large down payment for the expected reward for slaughtering its citizens, the terrorism would stop.
Mr. Roed-Larsen: We've been down this road before. Time and again, Israel has been told: You go first and demonstrate "goodwill" and you will be rewarded for it. And so Israel withdrew unilaterally from Lebanon, and is now living with Hizbullah's rockets pointed at its cities.
So Israel armed the Palestinian Authority, withdrew from Palestinian towns, and offered the Palestinians a state over essentially all the disputed territory and was rewarded with three years of terrorism.
The world has no memory of all this and neither, apparently, do you.
Your supposedly expert testimony to the Security Council perpetuates this amnesia, leading to renewed attempts at previously failed diplomatic formulas. No wonder that, as far as Israel is concerned, you are an irrelevance.
©2003 Jerusalem Post
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