Christians United for Israel: Words are more powerful than weapons

In the final analysis, Israel cannot produce (Mahatma) Gandhi's in the West Bank. Only the Palestinians and their leaders can do so.

Brog-224-88new (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Newsweek magazine recently ran an intriguing interview with a woman named Shifa al-Qudsi. Six years ago, Shifa entered Israel with an explosive belt attached to her body on her way to carry out a suicide bombing. Luckily for her and the innocents she would have murdered, Shifa was caught. After serving a six-year sentence in an Israeli prison, she is now back home in the West Bank. Yet, somehow, her time in an Israeli prison transformed her. Now that she knows Israelis, she recognizes their humanity. She has renounced terror, and is telling her fellow Palestinians that "words are more powerful than weapons." She no longer admires terrorists, but has studied and embraced the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. This story is exceptional. Literally exceptional. Last week also brought news that while this brave young woman has embarked down the path to peace, most of her fellow Palestinians have been traveling in the opposite direction. Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki released a new poll which, he says, shows greater Palestinian support for violence against Israelis than any of the surveys he's conducted over the past fifteen years. A full 84% of Palestinians support the March 6 attack at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem in which a terrorist shot eight high school students to death. 64% now support the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israeli towns and cities. So here is the question: How does Israel produce more men and women like Shifa? What can Israel do to encourage more Palestinians to abandon the path of Arafat for the path of Gandhi? Shikaki the pollster believes that Palestinian support for violence has spiked because of anger at Israel's recent raid into Gaza in which 130 people were killed. So perhaps Israel should stop such raids? Perhaps Israel should absorb waves of rockets until the Palestinians finally stop firing them? Unfortunately, history does not provide much evidence that such unilateral steps will work. Israel went so far as to withdraw all of its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005, yet Hamas and other militants still found plenty of provocation to fire missiles into Israel - that's what terrorists do. And of course the Gaza raid was necessitated in the first place by the rocket fire which a majority of Palestinians now support. In the final analysis, Israel cannot produce Gandhis in the West Bank. Only the Palestinians and their leaders can do so. They will need to stumble upon the humanity of the Israelis on their own. A good starting point might be to stop teaching that the Jews are the descendants of monkeys and pigs in the militant mosques. A solid second step might be to stop glorifying suicide bombings on children's television. In the meantime, Israel can try its best to help this process from the outside. While defending herself, Israel must continue to recognize the tragedy of every civilian casualty. Such casualties may be inevitable, especially when militants operate in civilian areas, but they are never acceptable. And Israel can ensure that those who do embrace words over weapons have a serious partner with whom to talk. No, Israel can't withdraw from the West Bank because there is one Shifa al-Qudsi -- not while there are 84% who still support the cold-blooded murder of Israelis. But by continuing to embrace talks and reconciliation as the ultimate goal, Israel can hold out the promise of peace to all who would seek it. For more of Brog's Blog, please visit Previous entries: National Incompetence Estimate Full steam ahead A setback on Iran Annapolis Arrives A Year to go? No picnics in Gaza Constant Vigilance The fate of the Sunday People