The second Intifada broke out at the zenith of Palestinian economy prosperity. The fruit of the Oslo Accords finally started trickling down to the poor and neglected strata in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian standard of living skyrocketed, money was readily available, tourists flocked to the whole of the Holy Land, foreign investors discovered cheap and skilled Palestinian labor, and Palestinian merchants discovered the purchasing power of Israeli consumers.
These achievements were erased on one clear day in October 2000. The second Intifada cost the Palestinians an economic loss of a generation. It will take at least 10 to 15 years before the per capita income in Palestine will return to its level on the eve of October 2000.
The welfare and future of millions of Palestinians were sacrificed on the altar of maintaining the zeal of the national and religious revolution. Normalcy, stability, the growing middle class, and the pursuit of a higher standard of living became a disaster and crime in the eyes of leaders such as Yasser Arafat and Ahmed Yassin. They wanted violence, ongoing war, blood, and fire – and that’s what they got. Now, both of them are buried deep in the soil of Palestine among with thousands of their countrymen who paid the price of their caprice.
This is the cost of terrorism. This is the cost of calling terrorists like Arafat "men of peace". This is the cost of blindingly condemning Israel at every turn while ignoring the corruption in the Palestinian Authority and its unwillingness to stop the terrorists in its midst. This is the cost of various church groups, academic associations, the UN, and various NGOs who constantly condemn Israel. This is the cost of those who seek the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel instead of looking to build a peaceful society. This is the cost of choosing a society of death instead of one of life. And the ones who pay the dearest price are those Palestinians everyone says they are so concerned about. It seems to me that the Jewish State of Israel shows more concern for Palestinians than the Palestinian Authority, the UN, the Arab League, church groups, NGOs, and academic associations.
Terrorism is not the answer. The answer is to build up lives and significant strides had been made toward that end before Arafat, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, began the Second Intifada. Arafat built those walls. Is there anyone willing to ask the Palestinian Authority to tear down those walls that were built by terrorism?
And before anyone suggests that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter: the Palestinian terrorists do not seek out military targets. The terrorists seek to murder school children, grandmothers, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters. Nor are terrorists militants. They are cold-blooded murderers whose very reason for existence is to murder, maim, and spread terror. After israeli troops pulled out of Gaza, the Israeli town of Sderot has been bombarded with thousands of Qassams. Some may try to say the Qassams are nothing more than glorified bottle rockets. Those rockets murder, maim, and the continual bombardment spreads terror. The alerts, when given, are unnerving to those living in Sderot. A couple of years ago, certain NGOs were complaining the Israeli jets flying over Gaza were unnerving to Palestinians. How much more unnerving must it be for Moms and Dads to have to choose which children sleep in the bomb shelters in their homes? How much more unnerving must it be for school children to have to drill everyday and in some cases have to run for the school's bomb shelter? How unnerving must it be for someone to have to be constantly aware of where shelters are for when the Qassams start raining down?
I've made no secret of my dream of one day making aliyah. Daily, I scour the real estate ads. One thing brings home the reality of living in Israel: most of the places I've looked out have a "safe room": a bomb shelter. That is the reality and for some odd reason, it doesn't scare me. And this is the biggest secret of Israel: the terrorists don't scare them and they go about living life and bringing technological and medical breakthroughs to the world. Israel has chosen life.
Update: Thank you Soccer Dad for nominating this post in the Watcher of Weasels.