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Violence in the Middle East

The volume of messages received on this subject indicates the proper concern which it arouses among WAISers. Sebastian Di Tella has sent another long message explaining his position, while Khalil Barboum replies. Here is, abridged, his message:

"An apparent endorsement of Ariel Sharon's right to visit Al-Haram Al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), revered by Muslims the world over, ignores two salient points. Sharon's visit, which was announced a week in advance, was facilitated by the presence of a thousand Israeli state policemen, thus rendering it an invasion aimed at punctuating a political point rather than merely an innocent spiritual pilgrimage by a devout individual.

Also, consider the following: as a daily practice, most Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are banned (by the Israeli occupation forces) from entering Jerusalem to perform their religious duties or even to visit relatives; Sharon's bloody history against the Palestinians (his 'indirect responsibility,' according to the Israeli government's own investigative commission, for the slaughter of thousands of innocent Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatila camps in Beirut in 1982; and, the fact that to the entire world, with the exception of the U.S. and Israel, East Jerusalem (where Haram Al-Sharif is located) is still considered an integral part of the occupied territories. What all of this adds to, of course, is that under the circumstances--which only begin to scratch the surface of the much misunderstood and misrepresented Palestinian plight--talk of respect for 'republican principles' simply does not obtain in this case."

My comment: Most people say "A plague on both your houses". The argument that anyone has the right to walk into the Temple Mount is specious. Anyone has the right to go for a stroll in a mine-field, but only a suicidal idiot would do it. In this case, however, it was more like throwing bombs.

A leader (10/7) in The Economist, usually friendly to Israel, is blunt: "The force used was astonishing. Demonstrators, most of them unarmed... were sometimes attacked by anti-tank missiles and helicopter gunships Sharon is a bull like a bull , deliberately charging a china shop. His action, crudely provocative, was not our of character."

Ronald Hilton - 10/10/00