August 2, 2007
An open letter to a Hamas supporter in Gaza
Here is my prediction. You will most probably continue to launch those primitive Qassam missiles on our southern town of Sderot. You will surely get satisfaction from the sight of Sderot residents fleeing their shelled town.
"After all," you will revel, "Israel, with all its aircraft and tanks, is not so mighty."
Yet despite your efforts, many people will still remain in Sderot, and one of your Qassams might hit a kindergarten and -- God forbid -- might kill 10 children. What happens then?
As a matter of fact, a Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, already addressed such a scenario. In a speech he gave in Israel a few years ago, he stunned his audience by suggesting a way to deal with Palestinian terrorism: If Palestinians intentionally attack Israeli civilians, he reasoned, then Israel, as an act of self-defense, should declare that the area from which the attack had been launched must be evacuated within a given time, after which it should be completely destroyed.
At the time I thought that the distinguished professor had simply lost his mind and that it was easy for him to give us such advice from his safe haven in Harvard. However, every Qassam you or your friends launch on our poor city of Sderot causes me to think again about the professor's idea. Because, you know, democracies might look weak, with all their sensitivity to human rights, but when you push them with their backs against the wall, they will eventually take their gloves off. And you're bringing it on yourself, pal, because there is no situation on Earth where a sovereign state should sit by idly while its citizens are relentlessly and mercilessly terrorized.
Do you insist on invoking upon yourself and your neighbors in Gaza the wrath of the Israel Defense Forces?
I have a better idea. You stop launching those Qassams, and we stop eliminating your leaders by air strikes. (Believe me, we can nail down each and every one of them, and we will, if you force us to do so.) We work out a grand plan that will alleviate the situation in Gaza, and will pave the way for the big money waiting to be invested in infrastructure and services. You declare a hudna (truce, in Arabic), for, say, 20 years, by which you suspend your plan to destroy Israel.
In 20 years you can build a state for your people, who long have deserved one, and believe me, if it works in Gaza, my fellow Israelis will be more than open to giving you most of the West Bank. Build schools, universities, hospitals, create jobs. You can do it with our cooperation -- a happy neighbor is a good neighbor -- or you can do it yourself. But instead of deceiving your children that Israel one day will just disappear, do something real for their future. And what happens after 20 years? Allah hu akbar, as we say in our region, God is Great.
The ball is in your court, pal, and time is running out.
Uri Dromi is the director of international outreach at the Israel Democracy Institute, Jerusalem.