Another bomb, more dead and injured and another reprisal and another bomb and more dead and another reprisal! And on and on it goes and yet the two parties involved never get to see, or perhaps never want to see, the truth that is staring them in the face. Peace can only come through negotiation and not murder and counter-murder. In the words of Buddha: “Violence begets violence, hatred begets hatred. Only through compassion and tolerance can we break this vicious cycle”.

Although there is neither compassion nor tolerance in the Middle East today it is ironic to remember that just a short time ago a real peace between Israel and the Palestinians seemed within reach. A European and American brokered formula, swapping land for a permanent peace accord, was negotiated first in Madrid and then Oslo – and accepted in outline by both the then Israeli leadership and the Palestinians. What went wrong after that is ridiculously easy to summarize. The peace leaders of both sides were literally bombed from the negotiating table by hard-line right wing extremists of both sides. Hammas! The Islamic Jihad! Hezbalah! Fanatical Zionists! A maniac Israeli settler murdering worshippers in a Mosque! The murder of Rabin! What is the difference, really? The truth is that they are the same. There is no middle ground for them because for both sides it is a holy war to the death. The puzzle is why the majority of Israelis and Palestinians have fallen for this extremism and allowed a small minority of fanatics to dictate their lives and their deaths?

The fanatical religionists on both sides, the war-mongers, have a lot to answer for. While each preaches against the atrocities of the others, both forget their own guilt. One side insists that bombing, shelling and shooting into civilian areas and killling is a legitimate defense against stone–throwing children. The other side sees brainwashing a young man into dying “for Allah” by tying explosives to his body and blowing himself up in a street crowded with women and children as a legitimate method of attack. Both sides are blind to the fact that they are being led by the nose and acting exactly as their most rabid extremists want them to act and react. They are being led to a hell on earth.

A reality that has to be remembered is that Palestine is an occupied territory. The Israelis took it by force and ruthlessly dispossessed as many Palestinians as they possibly could from their homes and land. These dispossessed have now lived in shanties and ragged refugee camps for more than 50 years. They and their offspring are willing fodder for martyrdom and sacrifice and will remain so as long as they do not have a state to call their own. The smooth, American-accented spokesman for the Israeli government seen on TV recently should remember chapters of the history of modern Israel. He draws a careful line between “terrorism” on the part of Palestinians and the idea that the shooting and shelling into civilian areas by Israeli forces, gun-ship assassination attacks on Palestinian leaders, and the killing of children is somehow “clean” warfare and not state terrorism. Let him bear in mind these dates when Jews fought not only Palestinians but their fellow jews trying to enter Palestine.

November 25, 1940. A passenger ship, “S.S. Patria”, was blown up by Zionists in Haifa harbor on this day, killing 276 illegal Jewish immigrants. This was followed by the explosion in the ship, “S.S. Struma”, in the Black Sea which killed 769 illegal Jewish immigrants.

November 6, 1944. Lord Moyne, a British resident minister, was assassinated in Cairo, Egypt, by members of the Stern Gang, whose active members during that period were Itzhak Shamir and former Israeli Prime Minister, the late Menachem Begin. The Irgun Zwei Leumi, a Jewish terrorist gang, blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem during December, 1947, killing 91 and injuring more than 200 British soldiers.

December 11, 1947. Bomb attacks in Haifa to terrorize the Palestinian population. The Arab-owned Semiramis Hotel in Jerusalem was also bombed, killing several innocent civilians including Viscount de Tapia, the Spanish Consul.

1947 : Zionists launched a letter bomb campaign aimed at British cabinet ministers in an effort to force the withdrawal of British troops from Palestine.

April 9, 1948. The Stern Gang committed the gruesome massacre at Deir Yassin, ruthlessly murdering 354 men, women and children. Some of the pregnant women were paraded naked before they were bayonetted to death and their bodies dumped in the village wells, according to the records of the Red Cross.

September 17, 1948. Count Folke Bernadette (nephew of King Gustav V of Sweden), a UN mediator, and his aide, Colonel Andre Pierre Serot, were assassinated by the Stern Gang .

1951 : Mossad agents bombed a synagogue in Baghdad to force the flight of Iraqi Jews into Palestine.

1954 : Israeli agents bombed the U.S. Information Center in Cairo to sabotage the normalization of relations between Nasser's Egypt and the U.S.A.

June 8, 1967. Israeli planes attacked the “U.S.S. Liberty” in broad daylight, killing 34 American sailors and wounding 171 others. The real story of this deliberate attack on the US intelligence ship - to halt its intelligence flow reporting Israeli atrocities - is only just coming out now. The list, which is no doubt biased, goes on until the present day as does an equally long list of murder and mayhem against Israeli citizens.

Terrorism? Yes, it is all terrorism - whatever name or excuse is given for it and it never has and never will achieve peace for anyone. Both sides must step back and negotiate from the reality and sanity which underpins both their causes - now all but lost in hysterical action and reaction dictated by extremists.

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