Jewish World Review Jan. 24, 2002 / 11 Shevat, 5762

'Cycle of Violence' is a Middle East lie

By Yossi Klein Halevi -- JERUSALEM | There is no cycle of violence.

One side has religious fanatics who are violent and hateful but discredited by the mainstream public and repudiated by most of its religious leaders. The other side has religious fanatics who are violent and hateful and celebrated by the mainstream as holy men.

One side is ready to compromise for peace and has abandoned its dream of complete possession of the contested land. The other side insists on absolute ownership of the land. One side is prepared to stop arguing about history and give precedence to the future. The other side is still fighting medieval wars against infidels.

One side has painfully concluded that both sides in this decades-long conflict have inflicted and suffered injustices. The other side believes that only it has suffered injustice and attributes all wrongs to its enemy.

One side believes that this is a tragic conflict between two legitimate national movements. The other side believes this is a conflict between native sons and foreign interlopers.

One side was so sickened of being occupiers that it empowered its archenemy and armed his terrorist forces and offered him shared sovereignty over its capital city. The other side rails against the injustice of an occupation that the occupier offered to end.

One side has accepted international compromises for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict, beginning with the Peel Commission of 1937, through the U.N. partition plan of 1947, through Camp David 2000 and Taba 2001. The other side has responded to each of those compromises with terrorism and war, and then complains to the world about the injustice of its defeats.

One side turned to its current hard-line leader only after its peacemaking leader returned from negotiations with war as the counteroffer. The other side never produced a leadership committed to compromise.

One side teaches its children songs of peace. The other side teaches its children songs of blood and fire.

One side maintains free media that criticize their own government and army and report on the other side's suffering. The other side maintains controlled media that tell its people the Holocaust never happened and that Sept. 11 was a well-earned blow against the United States.

One side anguishes and debates when its army commits an immoral act. The other side dances in the street when atrocities are committed in its name.

One side tries to prevent civilian deaths during battle. The other side defines the battle as a war against civilians.

One side produces mothers who protest against sending their sons into war. The other side produces mothers who boast about the suicide deaths of their terrorist sons and declare their willingness to sacrifice even more sons for the cause.

There is no cycle of violence.

JWR contributor Yossi Klein Halevi is the Israel correspondent for the New Republic and a senior writer for the Jerusalem Report. He is the author of "Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist (Little, Brown) and, most recently, "At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for G-d with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land." Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002,Yossi Klein Halevi. This article originally appeared in the LA Times.