Good fences make good neighbors

It had been a while (a few weeks, actually) since a fatal suicide bombing by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel proper, but the string is broken just two days from the Yom Kippur holiday, with a female suicide bomber attached to Arafat’s Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade blowing herself up at a Jerusalem bus stop killing at least one and injuring dozens.
Look for the usual territorial lockdown this year.
Suicide bombings by Palestinians are, actually, way down, largely thanks to the presence of Israel’s much vaunted and much maligned security/land grab fence, and in particular, the portion of it that surrounds the United Nations sponsored terrorist training camp at Jenin. Last year’s systematic execution of most of the Hamas leadership (with just a few dozen… or is it hundred… civilians killed as “collateral damage”) also helps this situation. Of course, other heavy handed Israeli reprisals which succeeded largely at murdering still more Palestinian civilians… remain largely unabated by the Sharon government.
It has been noted here that I am in agreement with at least one other blogger that the Israeli public is willing to absorb an almost unlimited number of pregnant women, school children, old people and other civilians being killed and/or mutilated on and waiting for buses, in restaurants and other public places, while they have zero tolerance– none whatsoever– for deaths of Israeli military personnel– anywhere, at any time. This creates a perverse incentive, of course, for the most vicious, heavy-handed responses, which, contrary to knee-jerk thinking, is precisely what the most ardently vicious Palestinian terrorist sectors rely on vicious Israeli counter-measures as their principal recruiting tool. (Does anyone see the problem in this kind of thinking– on obht sides? Or am I simply insane? BTW– this is almost verbatim the same kind of thinking the American military is now employing in Iraq…)
Meanwhile, I understand that rhetoric within Israel against Sharon’s proposed “sell-out” of 7,000 or so Gaza settlers/maniacs has become so poisoned that many liken it to the situation just before the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Sharon himself has noted that he spent his entire life defending Jews within colonial Palestine and then the State of Israel, and now, as an old man, he must be protected FROM Jews.
I might be inclined to see Sharon’s Gaza plan as kind of the old Vulcan saying (“Only Nixon could go to China”), but Arik Sharon is just not Menachem Begin. He just isn’t. To be more than fair, Yasir Arafat is certainly no Anwar Sadat (and George W. Bush isn’t even Jimmy Carter…) while Sharon builds the fence and talks of unilateral withdrawal from Gaza (btw, last year’s election promise of his former Labour opponent and TD darling Amram Mitzna ), Sharon nonetheless continues unabated in his maneuvers to honeycomb the West Bank with Israeli highways and checkpoints manned by Israeli soldiers, linking Israeli settlements, and creating a less and less viable archipelago for the eventual Palestinian state. I keep pointing this out (not that anyone listens) but within one generation, demographics and fertility rates will– WILL– result in more Arabs within the Israeli sphere (Israel proper plus territories) than Jews, at which point, Israel WILL become a neo-apartheid state– in EVERY WAY. By that point, if Israel does not solve this problem– by either becoming a secular, pluralist state that does not discriminate against non-Jews, and/or by dumping the Palestinian Arabs into their own sustainable independent country, I predict that not even the United States will be able to keep Israel from the same kind of permanently isolating sanctions (and even bigger pariah treatment than it receives already) as Apartheid South Africa.
Nice of Bush to have picked sides on this (just about unprecedented even in the hardly even handed history of American presidents); it will do eve4n more wonders in winning the hearts and minds of the Arab world (and to be honest, it probably will cost Bush Michigan).
The road map for peace has been officially folded up by the Sharon government, the Palestinian Authority is in internal disarray (and occasionally outright rebellion), and Israel deals with the possibility of a nuclear armed Iran, and Sharon must somehow maintain a general status quo for the next 42 days to best allow his best-buddy George W. Bush to hold on to power here.
Stay tuned.