Thursday, May 22, 2003
Are they getting it?

With the anti-Palestinian Authority demonstrations on Tuesday (Palestinians Protest, Blame Militants), and these kinds of stories now hitting the news, perhaps there is momentum among the ordinary Palestinians, who are realizing that terror strikes against Israelis are hindering their cause, and that maybe the road to peace is peace itself:

Widow decries suicide bombing

Just before 6 a.m. Sunday morning, another man got on the same bus, this one wearing an explosive belt laced with ball bearings. A few moments later, he detonated the device, shredding Mr. al-Tawil's body. The only thing that made Mr. al-Tawil stand out from the six other commuters who died that morning was that he, like the bomber, was a Palestinian Arab. It was an Israeli bus, and the rest of the victims were Jews.

"I have always thought that this bombing is wrong, and now it has found me in my own home," Mrs. al-Tawil said, dressed in the head scarf of a devout Muslim and the dark mourning clothes of a new widow.

"Suicide bombings are a big mistake. Jews are like us. They are on their way to work. This is against the will of God. They are ordinary people like us."

I would never wish this kind of violence on any innocents, whether they are Israeli or Palestinian. It seems like the only way to get the point across, however, is for them to suffer the same way Israelis suffer. It's a sad state of affairs, but until the Palestinians realize what these terrorist groups are doing to shatter their lives, they will never be inclined to rise up against them, and rise up against their "leadership".

Mr. al-Tawil is not the only Arab to fall victim to Palestinian militants in the past 31 months of violence. The very next day, an Arab-Israeli man, Hassan Tuatha, was killed in a suicide bombing outside a shopping mall in the northern Israeli town of Afula.

But these most recent deaths seem to have touched a chord with Palestinians, many of whom are increasingly fed up with the violence that is dominating their lives just as it has the Israelis.

A poll conducted by Bir Zeit University found that 71 per cent of Palestinians favour an end to terror attacks in Israel if the international community is able to engineer a resumption of peace talks. The White House has been trying to promote a so-called road map to peace, but it has been stalled, in part by the recent spate of bombings.

"The two peoples are killing each other and the leaders are watching," said Huda abu Sneineh, Mrs. al-Tawil's sister -- one of the few relatives who managed to find her way from Hebron through Israeli checkpoints to get to Mr. al-Tawil's funeral. "Mostly it is revenge. The Israelis are constantly killing our brothers and sisters and destroying our houses. Therefore they want revenge. I am against all this revenge. . . . Children are left without fathers on both sides."

"The only way to end the [Israeli] occupation is peace," Mrs. al-Tawil added. "It is the only way." A plasterer by trade, Mr. al-Tawil took a job just over a year ago cleaning at Hadassah Hospital. He wanted to work there to be closer to his 13-year-old daughter, Iman, who has Down syndrome and is being treated at the hospital for leukemia. When she was in hospital for long periods, he often slept in the room with her.

Mrs. al-Tawil said that she and her husband had been warned against taking the No. 6, but it was the only way for him to get to work and for her to take Iman to her appointments while she was being treated as an out patient. A round trip by taxi costs 100 shekels (about $30). Mr. al-Tawil could not afford that. Besides his wife and eight children at home, he was supporting his mother, a niece, and a child from a previous marriage on 2,500 shekels ($750) a month. Mrs. al-Tawil seemed unaware that as victims of terrorist violence, her family should be eligible for generous financial, housing and educational benefits from the Israeli government.

She was sure about one thing. "I won't take that bus again even if it means ending Iman's treatment," she said.

"I won't do it because my husband died that way and I can't stand the memory. And I won't do it because I have to protect myself. I'm all the children have now."

You see, the Palestinians only get financial assistance from their Arab brothers if they blow themselves up and kill a few Jews. The evil Zionist government, on the other hand, gives financial aid to victims of terrorism, regardless of who you are or where you are from.

It appears that the only hope is that Palestinians are starting to see how life is for Israelis, who can no longer send their kids to school on busses or meet at a cafe without suffering an anxiety attack. It's one thing when you have people volunteering to kill themselves. It's entirely another when your family and friends are killed because they were going about their business.

I'll hope, but I won't hold my breath.

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