Originally created 05/17/02

Good fences, bad neighbors



The explosive conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinians is concentrated in an area the size of New Jersey, where 9 million people sit on a powder keg of hatred.

The simplest way to get these two groups to stop fighting is to separate them. But that, of course, is far from simple.

Although most Israeli citizens are ready for a "land for peace" deal, such an agreement would not end the conflict, as the recent vote of the ruling Likud party suggests.

Consider what would happen if Palestine is granted statehood. The arms from Syria, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia would flow to the new pseudo-country. Missiles would be set up along the border, aimed at Tel Aviv, power plants and water treatment plants. Israel would build up its armaments to protect itself. The border would become a battleground that would extend as far as scud missiles could reach.

But because the two groups don't seem to be able to occupy the same geographic area, there's little choice but to carve it up and hope for the best.

Years of hatred and fear are now built into their separate societies. Palestinian children are even being encouraged to become suicide bombers by their mothers. One wonders, with that kind of mind set, what kind of society could be created if the Palestinians form their own state.

It would be a terrorist state, at the very least. While Israel operates under a parliamentary democracy and has had five prime ministers in the past six years, the Palestinians have unelected militia leaders who only know how to conduct a guerrilla war, and likely have no skills needed to create a peaceful, productive society.

While Ariel Sharon has been in office for a year, Yasser Arafat has been on the scene as the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and associated terror groups for decades. Politically, Arafat has a powerful advantage by virtue of his unchallenged leadership.

Indeed, Palestinians would not simply accept a state of their own and go on their merry way forming a productive society. They are fighting a war not just for statehood but to destroy Israel, and they've made no secret that the goal is to kill Jews - as many of them as possible, wherever and whenever possible.

So while it is regrettable that the party of Ariel Sharon voted down his proposal to create a Palestinian state, it wasn't an entirely irrational vote. The idea of having to live next to an emerging terrorist nation cannot be comforting to Israelis, who know full well that the Palestinians' ultimate goal is the Jews' demise.