Perhaps you find the headline of this article shocking. Isn’t Israel once again bombarding Gaza from the air, and preparing for a ground invasion? Tens or people have already died, hundreds, maybe thousands more will die, women and children among them, and their bodies will be carried in the streets, accompanied by the shrieks of the angry crowd (in front of the cameras, of course).
Surely, you might be saying, the why of it is not important? That rather, the important question here is simply should we support the genocide of innocent Palestinians? If so – congratulations.
You have outgrown that anti-Semitic T-shirt, are no longer that ethnic cepelina swearing at a rabbi for the first time.
You’ve come a long way from that intoxicated Internet commentator holding his grudge tightly in his little fist. You are a true European now, and have hidden your open hatred toward Jews behind subtle moralizations about the “two sides” of the conflict.
You – yes, you – who read about Palestine in some leftist pamphlet, or perhaps has even visited the West Bank. No matter. You have strong popular support now. You wear the mask of a concerned European and talk about what Israel cannot do, how everything should be resolved at the negotiation table. Waving your keffiyeh bravely, you attempt to extinguish thousands of years of conflict with little red leaflets and catchy slogans such as “Free Palestine!” Only that’s not the way to extinguish fire. On the contrary – those leaflets and scarves are fuel on the fire that will turn all your efforts into smoke and ashes.
Hard truth be told, negotiations change nothing in the Holy Land. They merely allows delegations from around the world to go on another round of business trips and shake some hands in front of cameras, and that’s it. Right up until the next Palestinian terrorist attack, another “unproportional” use of force by Israel.
The term I’ve heard people use is that Israel must, from time to time, “mow the lawn” in Gaza. Cynical as it may sound – especially if that mowing coincides with elections in Israel – it works. Gaza gets bombed every several years or so, and then it’s back to relative calm again.
But of course it’s difficult for us, Lithuanians (and many other Europeans, truth be told) to understand why is this the case, why don’t we see any changes.
Why are they butchering each other? Why does Israel have to bomb and Palestinians – and suffer (though that’s not exactly the picture one gets from Palestinian- sympathetic sources)? Why can’t there be peace? The observer of social behavior in me cannot fail to notice that if there’s one thing that unites lefties and the neo-Nazi crowd, it’s hatred for Israel. But you know what else I notice? The anti-Semitism in you is getting stronger. It’s taking over.
Like the inevitable belch after a large meal comes from your mouth the avalanche of “them dirty stinky Jews, they’ve occupied land of Palestine, they can never have enough, they need more blood of innocent people – they’ll bake matza from it.”
Do many people still actually talk like this? Oh yes.
Thousands of years of complicated history mean nothing to you. You don’t like to hear about that. Just like you don’t like to hear about the suffering of the Jewish people (“Enough! How much longer do we have to listen to this,” you moan, with a pained expression on your face).
Or about the UN recognizing both Israel and an Arab state in Palestine; how the Arabs refused to recognize Israel, attacked it, failed miserably in not one but several wars and hence lost the land fair and square.
And you don’t like to hear about Palestinians themselves – an invented nation who are simply Arabs.
No, you would rather listen to some cantankerous old fart, who is as clueless about geopolitics as he is about history, but is ready to ramble on about how Lithuania should remember it’s history and recognize Palestinian independence.
“Free Palestine!” squeals the little gang of keffiyeh- and Palestinian flag-wearing young Che Guevaristas. They are first to dare and compare the ravings about Palestinian independence with Lithuania’s fight for freedom in 1991. We are lucky that our diplomats had the brains to ignore those voices when there was a voting regarding Palestinian independence in the UN.
Loreta Asanaviciute(the young girl crushed by a Soviet tank while defending the Vilnius TV tower. She and 13 other civilians were killed by the Soviets in January 1991) didn’t blow herself up on a bus – that’s what Palestinians did.
I don’t recall “Death to Russians!” in Sajudis rallies before that. Nor do I remember Lithuanians firing rockets at Russian cities from kindergartens or the cellar of Vilnius Cathedral, either. But that’s what Hamas does – firing rockets from holy places and civilian areas toward Israel.
Let me stress quite clearly here: Palestinian terrorists, not all Palestinians. And that’s not a formality.
Just like the term “poor Palestinian people.”
Well, I have been there in the West Bank myself and I have seen with my own eyes exactly what castles and satellite dishes those “poor Palestinians” build in their “refugee camps.” So spare me your tears about their suffering.
But here comes some European in the ostrich pose, head deep in the sand, declaring: “Now, now, let us hear both sides, since both sides are right in their own way.”
TO THIS I can only say: one should learn to distinguish between cases in which there’s truly evidence supporting the “two sides” approach, and mere attempts by cowards and two-faced cronies to get their free corner to speak loudly.
I believe the time has come for Lithuania to be brave and dare to say – but without any babbling about how “we denounce violence, but urge both sides to seek peaceful resolution at the negotiations table, no, I want our country to say it loudly and clearly – “We support Israel’s actions in Gaza. The only language terrorists understand is that of force. We urge the EU to recognize this simple fact.”
This single statement would do us more good than all the rest combined.
And for once, with this bold step we’d be on the side of the righteous as well.
Not because we are stuck deep in the pockets of Jews or Americans – although that’s what some will surely accuse us of.
No matter. Those “some” can’t live without Soviet prison terminology anyway.
No, we should express this kind of support because Israel is right to defend itself. Because Israel defends itself in the right way. The alternative is the sand.
Stick your head in it if you wish.
Or, if you don’t like the ostrich analogy, here’s a simpler example: There you are, lying on a sandy Palanga beach, eating your local pastry, and then suddenly – a siren! It announces a 15-second warning about the incoming rocket barrage from neighboring Kaliningrad, where some people want to wipe you out of the face of the earth. And sure enough, here come the Grads.
Maybe the local missile defense system will intercept them. Maybe not.
Frankly, you do not want to risk it, so you grab your whiny baby in one hand, your annoying, yappy little dog into another, jam your food into your mouth and run for cover, for the nearest shelter.
Or, imagine the same thing happening in Vilnius, when you are conveniently stuck in traffic jam – you hear the siren and you run out of your car looking for cover.
Or maybe you’re in a shiny glass office building, making your way down to the parking garage along with the other yuppies, all trying to update their Facebook status at the same time.
Sound unrealistic? Well of course it does. Lithuanians don’t get notifications about a daily dosage of rocket attacks, and not only because the airraid sirens don’t actually work in Lithuania.
In Lithuania, an evacuation plan just isn’t something you have to know about. We who live in Europe don’t really think about it.
But that’s what daily life in Israel is now. Just think about this for a minute and ask yourself a simple question: what table would you like to sit at with those who would do this to you? I’m appealing to your emotions and reason here; I’m not even going to talk about those conspiracy nuts who claim all of this is a Jewish plot, that the Jews themselves are launching missiles at their own people. I pay no heed to those loonies – rank anti-Semitism isn’t the only thing beyond the reach of medicine.
Again, the real question is simple: What negotiation can there be with such terrorists – and make no mistake: Hamas, that attacks Israel from Gaza with rockets, is a terrorist organization.
Even the EU agrees on that. The same EU that urges Israel to negotiate with them.
Hamas is launching rockets from kindergartens and mosques, using civilians as human shields and then shedding crocodile tears for the dead children of Gaza. They know that no matter how precise the weapons of the IDF may be, there simply is no way for Israel to avoid innocent lives being lost in a situation as complex as this.
And yet Hamas is losing. Even the former allies of Hamas – Egypt, Syria and Iran – do not sympathize with this terrorist organization.
So please, take off your masks of concern, you two-faced liars. There’s plenty of horror staring you right in the face, the horror of the dead children under the rubble somewhere in Gaza. Ask yourselves, why is this happening? Well of course, some of you will say I am heartless. And you will most likely add that violence doesn’t stop violence, only breeds hatred and a new generation of enemies with a grudge.
Nonsense, that’s what that is. I have a question for you: Do you have another suggestion for how to deal with terrorists in short term? No, Jews, who have lived in Israel not for decades, but for thousands of years, and believe in their ownership of this land, won’t give it up to the Arabs. They will build new settler homes, and will remain ready to live and coexist with Arabs. But every time the Arabs attempt to kill Jews and throw them to the sea, blood will flow. Again and again. And nothing will change there, really.
At least not until the people who call themselves Palestinians, their younger generation at least, love themselves and their own children more than they hate the Jews. Then, maybe then there will be peace and that long since declared two-state solution will look like something more than a pipe-dream. Until then, only war, rivers of blood and no saints in sight – but there is a right side, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting it.
The author is the world news editor of Lietuvos Rytas, the most important Lithuanian daily newspaper.