After a light-hearted exchange about the chance of reaching our destination without a missile barrage, my taxi driver’s tone darkened.
“Tell me the truth,” he asked. “How do feel when the siren goes off?” “Startled,” I answered. “But getting used to it.” (Thanks to the Iron Dome, I thought; otherwise, I would probably be as terrified as the residents of Sderot and other southern towns, who have been under this blitz for years.) Stopping at a red light, he leaned in to me and lowered his voice.
“It scares me to death,” he admitted, in what struck me as a feat of extraordinary bravery for an Israeli male.
He then explained that he has been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder since being seriously wounded 12 years ago in a suicide bombing. Though he has learned to keep it under some degree of control, he said, “Every time there is a flare-up in the situation,” he relives the horror.
It happened on a Friday afternoon – on April 12, 2002 – at the Mahane Yehuda outdoor market in Jerusalem, when a 17-year-old girl belonging to the Hebron branch of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades detonated an explosive device strapped to her body. Four people were killed that day, including two foreign workers from China; over 100 were wounded, among them my taxi driver, all because they were out shopping for food for Shabbat.
It was one of many such grotesque attacks on innocent civilians carried out by Palestinian terrorists from Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The aim to annihilate the Jewish state is one thing these assaults had in common. Another is that each was the result of peace talks.
Indeed, the bombing in question was part of the second intifada, waged against Israel following the so-called “failure” of the 2000 Camp David Summit.
In fact, it was the inevitable outcome of Israeli peace overtures and concessions to Palestinian Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat. An arch-terrorist with genocidal goals and behavior, the Nobel Peace prize he won for signing the Oslo Accords became his most lethal weapon. And he used it with a vengeance.
Rather than working toward the establishment of the state for which he was ostensibly fighting, Arafat took the opportunity of relative autonomy in the Palestinian Authority to step up operations against Israel. His successor, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, has carried on this legacy. His recent reconciliation with Hamas is not merely proof of this fact, but was directly linked to the latest round of Israeli overtures and concessions.
The same goes for Israeli cease-fires with terrorist organizations and withdrawals from terrorist-run territory. Peace never ensues; only the promise of the next war, and the fulfillment of that promise.
This is exactly what is happening today. The notion that the incessant missile fire on Israel that began this week was sparked by the murder of 16-year-old Muhammad abu Khdeir in Jerusalem at the hand of Jewish vigilantes – following the abduction and killing of three Israeli teens – is absolutely ridiculous.
The real reason for what the world is calling a “cycle of violence” is the phony peace process that US Secretary of State John Kerry spent months trying to broker between Israel and the PA. More specifically, it is the culmination of Israeli appeasement toward Washington and Ramallah. In other words, it was as inevitable as every armed conflict against the Jewish state since the War of Independence.
Has this made a dent in the view of the Israeli Left, the White House and State Department, the European Union and the UN that Israel needs to return to the “peace process”? On the contrary, it has strengthened their position that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is somehow at fault for launching Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. And it has led to more calls for brokered negotiations.
This is not only the kind of travesty that one has come to expect of detractors, both at home and abroad, it is also counterproductive. Anyone who really wants a cessation of war must know by now that the worst way to achieve it is to talk of peace.
Just ask my scarred-for-life taxi driver.
The writer is the author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’