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Analysis Last Updated: Mar 13th, 2008 - 00:12:45

The seminary students and the Israeli bulldog
By Dr. Marwan Asmar
Online Journal Guest Writer

Mar 13, 2008, 01:08

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The killings of eight religious students at the seminary in Jerusalem is to be expected in the light of what Israel did in Gaza the previous week. Through its military bombardment of its towns and cities, where 138 people were killed in just four days and the 250-plus serious injuries meted out on Palestinians, mostly civilians, Israel could well expect to face more actions of this kind, seen as acts of desperation in the light the international apathy.

Israel's military and political establishments should not expect Palestinians to stand with hands tied behind their backs while Israel does what it will, and gets away with it, under the pretext it�s fighting terrorism for this is terrorism against civilians. The people of Gaza have been under an Israeli self-styled blockade and embargo since June 2007 with little in their shops.

They are constantly at the butt end of the Israeli military machine, all in the name of fighting Hamas, a movement that is itself frustrated because of the siege that allows no people to get in or get out of the Gaza Strip, something like a modern-day concentration camp. So are they expected to cry when they see Israelis being killed?

Under a deteriorating situation, many Palestinians will revert to desperate acts such as the Jerusalem killing which is to be blamed on bloody-minded politicians who refuse to move one iota in establishing a credible peace process that unlocks desperation and hopelessness.

The end result of the political stalemate by politicians who sit in their cushy chairs, air conditioned offices, and talk endlessly about meaningless topics and killing strategies while putting on liberal faces, are acts like the last one on the Jewish students. What is sad is that they, too, are locked up in an ideological framework, believing they are the guardians of Zion as if no one exists but Israeli Jews encircled by Arabs.

It is Ehud Olmert and his government that must take the blame for the killings and not the Palestinians, Hamas or the Palestinian National Authority. The Israeli par-excellence team, who at each national election claim to understand what their citizens want, continue to foot-drag and dawdle on the peace process as if they have all the time in the world. But since they stand in a position of strength vis-�-vis the Palestinians, they would think likewise and give as little way as possible because this is their nature of power.

Politicians, most of all Israelis must get off their high moral horses, if such an expression exists in Israel, and leave the myopic and tunneled vision approach and start thinking in terms of a long-term future, and not on an �I am all right, Jack� piecemeal strategy that gives Israelis a false-hope existence and security that is occasionally botched up and leaves the Palestinians nothing but to wallow in their misery, frustration and the creation of endless bouts of hatred.

The Israelis should stop relying on their PR campaign to garner international support, which they are actually losing by the day, and get down to business based on meaningful negotiations that realize this land is not theirs alone but has to be shared, rather than hark back to their military muscle, which only results in killing fields and wasted human lives.

Will Israel feel secure, while bombing Palestinians and paying lip service to a peace process it manipulates as it goes along according to the international weather vane, or the whims of its politicians and military destroyers, while relying on international media institutions and �career climbing� journalists to twist and distort reality while singing the tune of �another threat to peace� as if it's alive, well and kicking?

The Jerusalem killing should be a wake-up call to Israeli politicians and the ordinary Israeli people that the concept of being safe is relative, and that �safety� should apply to all rather than just to one.

The Jerusalem killing is the first in four years in the city; it shouldn�t be taken as an isolated incident, or as a rare act that happened because of a flaw in security. They should realize that if it happened now, it will happen again and again, if the end result is merely to keep talking.

The peace process, even when it didn�t exist over the past seven years, has been turned into a �talking shop,� where you talk and talk and talk but never get anything done; a strategy that has been adopted by the Israelis right from the start of the peace process in Madrid in 1991 which was then an occasion of hope and now a never-ending nightmare.

Imagine, if in 17 or 18 years we are nowhere near to having peace because of Israel's intransigent mentality that will not give way except to dictates laid-down by its own politicians and decision-makers. But the simple fact remains this is not their own state by a long shot, it has been created for them on the land of others and hence they would want to guard their existence by their military might and American money.

Marwan Asmar is a journalist based in Amman and writes frequently on Palestinian-Israeli and Arab issues.

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