The One Thing No Israeli Wants to Discuss

The decisive factor in next week’s election — and the reason for Benjamin Netanyahu’s durability — is a repressed memory.

Comments: 270

  1. Thankyou for this reminder Mr Friedman. Could you perhaps explain in another article what steps were taken to effectively stop the suicide bombings? Is the pressure on Israel from outside Israel, including from some members of the Jewish diaspora, likely to eliminate some of those steps if other parties come to power? And could this lead once again to suicide bombings and their resultant reign of terror? I ask this as someone with both family and friends who live in Israel....

  2. @Leon Joffe The wall. Tall and long walls. As soon as the wall is up Israeli death toll drops. The wall is both a physical and psychological barrier. It reminds the terrorists the futility of their action.

  3. I visited Israel in 1986 and was constantly aware that the peace could be broken by a bomb placed in a cafe or at a bus stop. After visiting the usual tourist attractions we waited at the airport for our flight. Someone left an unattended briefcase in the middle of the lobby and I quickly guided my wife some distance away behind a large concrete post. The briefcase didn’t explode but I couldn’t believe someone was so thoughtless to leave it there. The same thing happened at the Rome airport when a man left his briefcase in front of me at the ticket counter. I scrambled to see if he was in sight and ran to him to make him aware. Now in retirement we avoid large groups of people as a precaution for an explosion like the ones in Paris!

  4. @Michael Kittle. So why do we have such difficulty seeing the Israeli perspective when, in fact, we have the same problem of terrorism in our own cities (though to a lesser degree.). Paris, London, New York, cities in India, in Russia are all targets of terror. In fact, terrorism is the method du jour for trying to extract “justice” although doing so is itself unjust.

  5. This is a crucial essay which highlights the origin of many policies such as the separation fence/wall that Israel erected and is now routinely criticized for without understanding that it is only a relatively recent response to the targeted slaughter of its civilian population by Palestinian terrorists starting in 2002. States will always choose security first, it is the most essential human need and the end of walls will only happen when peace is achieved. It took decades for the Berlin Wall to come down, for peace in Northern Ireland, and it may be even longer in this part of the world.

  6. @michaelf Of course, the Berlin Wall had the rare feature of being for the expressed purpose of keeping people IN, not OUT. Hard to remember sometimes how upside-down the Cold War era was.

  7. @michaelf and @Ben, And here in post-9/11 USA our terrorists come from the same side of the wall as their targets. I think 2019 is the upside-down time.

  8. What a brilliant and chilling reminder of what's at stake for the Israeli people. Never again means Never again. At the same time, the demographics of the region work against perpetual occupation of Palestinian lands. The exit ramp requires something that is missing in the Middle East and, alas, increasingly in the Western World: compassion and the ability to take the perspective of the "Other".

  9. @Down62 Never again mean never again. Unless the genocide is against the Palestinian people?

  10. @Down62 "Never again means Never again." But Never again must also mean, Never again will will do to others what was done to us. In their determination never to be abused again in the way that they were abused, the abused can oh so easily become the abuser. The Palestinians are not the Nazis. They do not have the power of Israelis that the Third Reich had over its minority population of Jews. Oppression and injustice shift shape, while humans go on desperately and fearfully repeating the mottos that arose from the previous conflict but do not fit this one.

  11. @Asif No, Asif. Read the rest of my comment. It means both sides!

  12. I remember, when our daughter was doing a semester abroad in Jerusalem in 1996, the several nighttime phone calls we received, when she wanted to reassure us that she was OK even though another bomb had just blown up not far from where she lived. So I understand what the writer is talking about. Add to that the totally unrewarding pullouts from Lebanon (followed by a rise of Hezbollah) and Gaza (followed by a rise of Hamas) and I understand how a nation dedicated to decent principles has shifted so much to the Right, much to the disappointment of many of my fellow Democrats, who have been living safely in our wonderful country.

  13. @Claude Vidal You claim Israel pulled out of Gaza and Hamas arose afterward. No, Israel pulled out BECAUSE of Hamas's terrorism. The Palestinians were negotiating constantly and getting nowhere. Finally, Hamas took over the "negotiations" and Israel decided it just wasn't worth the blood and treasure and pulled out. I point this out, not to condone terrorism, but to show that to learn from history, we must get the history right. The Israelis are not the only ones who can get fed up. Wouldn't it be better to negotiate in good faith with the West Bank Palestinians rather than have them decide that Hamas are the only ones that can get results?

  14. My parents lived In Jerusalem at the time. My mom would phone me after each terror attack to let me know they were safe. How ironic it was then that I had to phone them right after the Sept 11 tragedy to tell them that I and my husband were OK. Both of us steps from ground zero at work that day.

  15. @Thucydides "The Palestinians were negotiating constantly and getting nowhere. Finally, Hamas took over the "negotiations" and Israel decided it just wasn't worth the blood and treasure and pulled out." Thanks for reminding us. There was a process, however imperfect and bedraggled, and it was moving forward. There was also the full measure of sarcasm and duplicity now openly on display at the highest levels of the Super-Duper Hard Right Proto-Fascist Netanyahu government. Then too, mad, partisan Israeli violence (I believe the only time in Israeli history, in fact) that led them to kill their own leader in the midst of promising negotiations (Trump reports he saw thousands dancing in the settlements that late night). So long as Israelis, officially, do exactly what Matti claims they do not, talk on and on and on about what they have been made to suffer for no imaginable reason and, yes, Palestinians do the same, there is no hope for peace. Which, it increasingly appears, is exactly what Netanyahu and the Israeli electorate want: just enough violence to keep the land grab going, the sense of fearful crisis growing, and American funding flowing.

  16. Israel has either been at war or threatened with war since its very inception. What is herein termed "memory repression" a quasi-psychiatric term indicating a failing of sorts of the Israeli State Conciousness is in actuality a great strength of a remarkable people. When the civilian population under such constant threat is able to not be cowed by constant terrorism, live their lives unafraid, and to flourish in such an environment is quite the opposite of a failing, it is rather a model. I was there some years ago seeing the young guys and girls in the military with machine guns at almost every juncture, side by side with little children and their parents going about their lives as if it were central park on a weekend in spite of routine bus and train bombings. Not having to replay the past as if it were a PTSD nightmare is a blessing, not a repression.

  17. @NYer In the six months before Israel was a State, Zionist militias uprooted 400,000 Palestinians, destroyed 531 villages and 11 urban neighborhoods including Jaffa and Haifa. Last month Israeli forces destroyed 70 Palestinian homes in one day. What is really being repressed here?

  18. @Cran I sincerely hope that the truth about Hamas and Hezbollah, both terrorist organisations perpetually at war with Israel is not surpressed in favor of a false narrative of Israeli aggression. What would we do if those illegal immigrants via Mexico fired rockets at us and enabled suicide bombers over our border instead of simply peacefully seeking security?

  19. I lived in Israel in the early 90s. I remember all this viscerally. The parallels are uncanny to our sense of fear today, in the US, regarding mass shootings. We can respond with anger and nonsensical walls that do nothing to address the root causes of these acts of madness, or we can tackle these problems with strong gun laws, community outreach and red flag interventions. We are on a precipice.

  20. @Rill The curious difference is that in the U.S. the enemy is our selves--men who act out their darkest fantasies on school children, concert goers, and mall patrons, with military style weapons. Our self-inflicted carnage is unique in the Western hemisphere.

  21. @Rill False equivalence.

  22. We went through the same thing in Spain in the mid 70s, what with Franco dying, the ETA bombing left and right, people getting blown up all the time... many of us, who participated actively in the protests against the police and the dictatorship do remember having one aspect of the future very clear: no matter what, democracy is worth the risk of getting blown up. I had never read the famous phrase about the people who are ready to give up liberty for the pursuit of safety not meriting either, but it certainly applied to us. I am not Israeli (obviously) but it is sad to see so many people put up with a substandard government full of corrupt politicians only because they want to feel "safe". We didn't in Spain and it worked well for us.

  23. @MSA This subject was on my mind today because my daughter "interviewed" me about 9/11 for school. One of her questions was, "How did 9/11 affect your sense of patriotism?" What I said was, it made me realize that patriotism was about fighting for your national principles—democracy, equality, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, due process, justice, honest and transparent government—not a feeling you get when you see a flag or a uniform. And that too many of those principles got sacrificed after 9/11 so that we could feel safe. I appreciate your comment, and I am glad you are here.

  24. @MSA: while analogies can be a powerful rhetorical device, they are often a fraught instrument for logical reasoning. I still lived in my home country of France in those days and allow me to say that you are trying to compare apples and oranges.

  25. @MSA They didn't in Israel for the forty or more years prior to Intifada 2 and it let the terrorists cause increasingly more terror. But glad yours worked out.

  26. I'm sure the responses will not be in agreement but as I read this I think about the US reaction to Sept 11. Did the last 18 years of US policy make America safer? Was invading Afghanistan and Iraq, waging drone/proxy wars in N Africa a route to creating a safer nation? What about domestically - the values of the nation? Were they altered in a way that lessened what the country stands for? Is it acceptable to say "Because of our fears, even when they have some basis, we're going to embark upon aggressive, combative, carceral, at times murderous programs in our desire to keep ourselves safe?" I'm not sure that the destruction we create at home, as well as what we do to others across the oceans has as much value as we might think. It behooves a democracy to think about these things and do what's right, not just expedient.

  27. @jimmboy The comparison to 9/11 is not valid. We were attacked by people who infiltrated the US from the other side of the world and our wars were also fought thousands of miles away. It was also a one-time tragedy. The suicide bombers in Israel lived a few miles away and the fear was constant. Imagine, if you will, that Ontario-based insurgents were blowing up buses and restaurants in Detroit and Buffalo for several years running and celebrating in the streets afterwards. The US would likely have a similar reaction.

  28. @jimmboy Thank you, this so important to point out. We Americans went down the wrong path in our reaction to 9/11, and are so much worse off for it.

  29. @jimmboy "Did the last 18 years of US policy make America safer?" What an absurd question.

  30. “The attacks, which killed hundreds of Israeli civilians, ended hopes for a negotiated peace ...” Friedman would do well to look at the what happened to Yitzak Rabin, and how that affected the peace process. He, and the people of Israel, would also do well to reflect on how, while the bombings from this period brought the war from distant battlefields to their home, those distant battlefields *were* someone else’s home. And if a brief period of one’s home being a battlefield has profound effects on one’s psyche, imagine the effect of being born on a battlefield and living one’s entire life in a battlefield. I don’t begrudge Israel its desire for security. But I do beg Israelis and Palestinians both to remember each other’s humanity - and their own. And I beg each to work in good faith to figure out a way to live with each other in a way that doesn’t crush that humanity.

  31. @Benjamin Hinkley I will tell you why the "Israeli" perspective is one of constant fear of terrorism and constant reminders of the security risks because of the Palestinians - it is because of Netanyahu's blatant politicizing of the threats by claiming that he alone can save Israelis. Friedman has proven that in this essay when he explains why Netanyahu continues to win elections. Israelis are blinded by the security he promises and his constant reminders of the dangers of the "other" and yet it is driven by Netanyahu's political and personal ambition not security of Israel. He has no goal of peace or resolution of the conflict - why would he? that would render him unnecessary in Israel's politics. Another leader - in fact every other leader in cities such as Paris, Rome, NYC, Moscow where terrorists have attacked - strives to ensure their citizens do not fear the "other" - rather, their intent is to seek resolution. Netanyahu has done the opposite. And what is disgusting is that his is purely a personal power move for political purposes to maintain control.

  32. @Benjamin Hinkley Palestine was the name given by the Jews for their homeland. The word Palestinian is obviously not Arabic. It was created as a gimmick to lay complete claim to that land. The British divided the land at that time, not the Jews. Palestinians enjoy more rights in Israel’s democracy than under their own government. Israel has handed out the olive branch on several occasions. The Palestinians have not. They don’t peace. As their charter says, they want the destruction of Israel and its people. Facts that are relevant.

  33. @Benjamin Hinkley It is also important to put these tragedies into perspective, In the second intifada, 1000 Israeli and 3000 Arabes were killed, so it's 3:1 In the first intifada's, first 13 months, the score was 27:1, but after two years, 7:1 , (1162 : 160) In my observation, if the quotient goes below 10:1, we have a war. Now it's round 100:1 , an unusually peaceful time.....

  34. I visited Israel in 1991 shortly after the first Gulf War and first Intifada. I traveled throughout, visiting sites and enjoying unusual kindness and hospitality wherever I went including to the ancient city of Jericho where Palestinian strangers welcomed me with food and drink even though the once lively place was deserted and everyone was still on edge. One young man gave me a sample of Dead Sea mud he wanted to bring to market as a cosmetic. I’ll never forgot his entrepreneurial fervor. But the memory, the image, that I remember most clearly from 30 years ago is that of the line out the door and around the block of customers at the “Arab Window” at the Central Post Office in Jerusalem. The non-Arab windows were virtually empty and my business was attended to and completed in a few minutes. I remember the faces, the sad eyes, of hundreds bored frustrated customers, second citizens, waiting their turn watching their fellow countrymen zip in and out. I thought of our “colored” drinking fountains and restaurant counters and I remember thinking that the situation in Israel will not resolve as long as this kind of indignity, relatively minor in comparison with the traumas inflicted by, yes, both sides, is in their past. Plenty of blame on both sides but the Israelis have the power, I remember thinking, and therefore the responsibility to fix this falls more heavily on them.

  35. @Rufus Collins No occupier has ever treated the occupied the same way that it treats its own citizens. In 1948, Palestinians could have declared independence. Instead, they asked for union with Jordan so when Jordanians were attacking Israel it was also Palestinians attacking Israel. The IDF had to go into West Bank to silence the guns. That's how the occupation began. Unlike other occupiers (China, Russia, Morocco, Turkey) Israel offered to end the occupation in return for a peace treaty. Israel is still waiting. The occupation is necessary to prevent Palestinians from murdering Jews. If Palestinians were willing to live in peace with Israelis, the occupation wouldn't be necessary. If Israel were to end the occupation of the West Bank today, Palestinians would fire rockets & mortars from the West Bank just as Palestinians fired rockets & mortars from Gaza after Israel pulled out of Gaza.

  36. @Rufus Collins Israeli Arabs have the best treatment and economic outcomes of any minority in any country and they have equal rights and better outcomes that Palestinian Arabs. What you think you saw is not the reason for the conflict and not a reason it is ongoing.

  37. @Rufus Collins I am touched by your reflections on Jerusalem. However I do want to clarify for all those who have not traveled to Israel (I am an American who lives in Israel) that, while I can't comment on whether there was an "Arab" counter at the post office in 1991, there is definitely no such counter now. If I had to guess I would assume there was a counter for citizens of Israel and a separate counter for Palestinian citizens of East Jerusalem (who hold a Jordanian and not Israeli passport), perhaps because their postal needs were different given the divided nature of the city. Meaning that that the many Arab citizens of Israel would have been served on the "non-Arab" windows. In my town's post office and every other post office I have seen in this country, all the windows are for everyone, and used by everyone. Things are not perfect here but we must be very cautious about comparisons to the segregated US South.

  38. Yes. As someone older than Mr. Friedman, I can attest that there were decades in which many, many Israelis hoped and worked for peace with the Palestinians. And that terrorism was an active and grotesque reality for far longer than even he writes about. The Munich Olympics were perfectly representative of the 1970's, for example.

  39. @LF Israeli terror against the Palestinians goes back to the 1930s when the country was under Birtish mandate and long before the admittedly outrageous attacks of Palestinians against Israelis in Munich in the 1970s. Neither side can be excused for their mutually nasty attacks upon each other. I say, "a pox on both your houses" and don't expect me to take sides. Until you come to a mutual agreement you are both losers.

  40. @LF Some Ben Gurion quotes 1/ Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves ... politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves... The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country. 2/ We must do everything to insure they [the Palestinians] never do return.... The old will die and the young will forget. 3/ If I was an Arab leader I would never make [peace] with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. 4/ “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.” 5/We must do everything to ensure they [the Palestinian refugees] never do return” 6/ “We must expel Arabs and take their places.” 7/“The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.” -- David Ben-Gurion The Zionist plan to colonize Palestine/displace the indigenous people is many decades old. 8/ “Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves ... politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves... The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country.” -- David Ben-Gurion 9/ “Which are you first, a Jew or an American? A Jew.” -- David Ben-Gurion ome

  41. I found this article a powerful reminder of the ways in which extremism amplifies itself, as a signal passed back and forth between adversaries in an increasingly vicious cycle. Most chillingly, the road to extreme measures appears to be lined with the fundamental human capacities of memory and abstraction, which color the present so thoroughly that alternatives become invisible. Where the past crimes of "groups" and the replacement of individuals, in our minds, with those groups becomes impossible to avoid, the present is held in checkmate. We say to ourselves, again and again: To accept risk to myself for the sake of the Other is to show empathy; yet to ask my people to accept the same is irresponsibility. The tragedy is that this is both A) true by consensus, and B) a guarantee of further horrors tomorrow, if not today. Where shall we go from here?

  42. @Biomuse Incredibly well said. I would only add: and even when the cycle is not actively vicious, it is viciously stuck.

  43. This speaks eloquently to the futility of violence to solve our basic human problems. Hundreds of Palestinians have also died during Israeli attacks on Gaza. All that death and both parties are no further down the road to a solution. Something gets stuck in the human psyche in the presence of the fear and anger that violence breeds. Perhaps it’s time for a more radical solution. As the Dalai Lama puts it, “Compassion is the radicalism of our time.” Focusing on what both sides have in common as human beings and feeling compassion for all stuck in this senseless cycle of violence would get things moving again. It really is the only way forward.

  44. @DanD Yes. The saddest part of this article is the point that Israeli opinion now focuses on vengeance. I really pray that isn't true.

  45. @DanD It's not a cycle of violence. In a cycle of violence, the cycle continues as long as each side retaliates for the previous attack. If one side refrains from retaliation, the cycle ends. If the Palestinians lay down their arms & don't retaliate, the cycle is over. If the Israelis lay down their arms & don't retaliate, Israel will be destroyed & the Jews will be exterminated.

  46. @m1945 If the Palestinians lay down their arms they can enjoy the same peace that Black South Africans had under white rule. Sounds great.

  47. The fear and horror that these terrorist attacks engendered is palpable here and can not be ignored. It is a descent into chaos that wipes away any sense of humanity and a view of the bigger picture in the desire to punish and survive. And yes, I who sit here and write this can not understand this terror completely. But still if those most directly involved stay in that place of fear and terror and do not rise up to find a better more compassionate way, the cycle will continue despite the draconian measures Israelis and Netanyahu have used to suppress the bombings. Is it possible to both protect yourself and acknowledge the claims and pain of others? Will Palestinians always be the feared other even though they are your neighbors?

  48. @just Robert As long as they keep terrorists like Abbas and Hamas in charge, how can you expect Israel to just lay down and die? The change you are looking for must start with the Palestinians. Until they show a desire to stop killing Jews, then Israel will continue to defend itself in any way possible. Which is exactly what you would do to protect your family if someone kept trying to kill you and yours.

  49. @just Robert Palestinians continue to raise their children to hate Jews so Palestinians will continue to be feared. Here’s what Palestinian kids see on Palestinian TV: • A song in a children’s cartoon includes the lyrics, “Zionist man, run away, Zionist woman, run away, very soon you’ll be killed by a car.” • A Palestinian singer is shown in another clip, singing the lyrics, “Oh Martyrdom-seeker, make them cry. Make the fire engulf them. Turn them into body parts, roast them.” • A Palestinian child declaims in a speech into which he has been indoctrinated, “Oh sons of Zion, oh the most evil of creatures, oh barbaric apes.” • In a children’s TV show, a Mickey Mouse figures asks a child, “How will you sacrifice your soul for the sake of Al-Aqsa? What will you do? The child replies, “I will shoot. We want to… We will annihilate the Jews.”

  50. My husband and I moved to Jerusalem from Manhattan in October of 2001 for a year of study in our respective Rabbinic and Cantorial programs. I’ll pause while you do the math. This column took me right back to that year, and I have not forgotten any of it. Moment Cafe was right down the block from our apartment and while we were too close to it all, there is nowhere I would have rather been. Our year in Jerusalem gave us a life changing perspective on Israelis living in Israel, with all the messy nuance involved.

  51. @ What do you expect from a people who were uprooted and exiled from a land they once considered to be their own? Palestine wasn't exactly uninhabited territory prior to the establishmet of Israel in 1948. On the other hand people born in this land after 1948 also have a right to consider the land they occupy as being their own. Where is Solomon when we need him?

  52. This was a very good and important article. And I am sure true in its assessment of the scarring effect on the Israeli population. There are though other points which should be made. The first is that the Intifada was a response to occupation and having Palestinian land taken. It was indisputably horrific, morally and politically, in its indiscriminate targeting of civilians. The same can be said of the airline hijackings which had occurred earlier. During this period, and I encourage readers to read Wikipedia’s summary, which lists both Israeli and Palestinian civilian victims, and which states that over 1000 Israeli civilians died, and over 3000 Palestinians. The great semi documentary, the Battle of Algiers, also describes a situation in which an occupied people take up terrorism against the occupiers, including civilians. Whether this is moral is a difficult question. Was it moral for Indians to attack a wagon train, or burn the home of settlers who were taking their land? These are all situations where disproportionate power is held by one party attempting to dispossess another. I should say that I am a passionate supporter of the Palestinians and believe that no matter what happened during the Second Intifada, and in the initial dispossession of 1948, the way forward to any sort of peace is the cessation of settlement building, and the surrender of land seized by Israel in 1967. And in the meantime, everyone should support BDS, a nonviolent movement to achieve peace.

  53. @Wan So, the reward for not being annihilated in several wars repeatedly initiated by several surrounding countries with that distinct goal of its annihilation is being labeled as “holding power” and thus somehow morally wrong because of successful survival? I don’t think so.

  54. @Wan I totally agree. The example of native people fighting the occupier was right on.I only hate injustice

  55. @Dr. Azin No Dr. Azin, Sadly This is consquence of oppression. Every where in the world. Never in history has an oppressed group agreed with it's oppression.

  56. This is an interesting and well written piece, and it helped me to understand the resilience of Prime Minister Netanyahu. I had completely forgotten about the wave of bombings during the early part of this century, but this piece reminded me of that time. Fear of the past repeating itself isn't unique to Israel. German governments insist on balanced budgets, remembering the ruinous inflation under the Weimar government. Here in the United States the Democratic party leadership remembers the electoral beat downs of 1980, 1984, and 1988, so the blandest, safest candidates are put forward.

  57. @Maryland Chris To compare the Jewish concerns about terrorism with that of the Germans concerns about balanced budgets trivializes the lives of the Jews.

  58. I suppose if one looks at this period in a bubble, as Mr. Friedman does, and ignores what caused this terrible behavior, such a campaign speech for Netanyahu might seem justified. But ignoring the root cause of the violence is as much a case of “repressed memory” as the violence itself. And without coming to grips with the root cause, you may be able to go to a cafe in Jerusalem today, but the cost of that coffee - like the trains that suddenly ran on time when Mussolini came to power - is far too high, and ultimately unstable.

  59. @Jonathan Friedlander "what caused this terrible behavior"--Just imagine if the Palestinians had accepted partition in 1948. They would have a state. Yhey cose with the help of the armies of 7 Arab nations to try to destroy Israel. So that is the root cause of the problem. Mr. Netanyahu, by the way was born in 1949.

  60. @Jonathan Friedlander The root cause of that “terrible behavior” (blowing up children in pizza parlors) was the Palestinian leadership’s absolute and unyielding rejection of the existence of Israel in any form, with any boundary. The proximate cause of that terrible behavior during the period that has no name was Yasser Arafat’s rejection of a good faith peace deal offer by a progressive Israeli government that had the fatal flaw of requiring Arafat et al to accept the existence of Israel after decades of telling his people that the Jews would be driven into the sea. Arafat felt cornered, and instead of continuing the peace process that would inevitably require him to accept the existence of Israel, his counter offer was to launch the terrible behavior of the Intifada II.

  61. @Jonathan Friedlander What is the "root cause" that you speak of? Is it the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Jaffa Pogrom of 1921, the War of Independence in 1948, the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the withdrawal from Gaza, or the fact that many Palestinians and the entire Arab world won't accept any Jewish state with borders that allows it to protect itself? Your allusion to a root cause without any attempt to define it seriously detracts from your comment.

  62. If you want tomorrow to be different from today, what are you willing to do today which is different from what you did yesterday? This is the question to ponder if the cycle of violence and revenge is ever to be broken. Another way to put it: If both sides are "right", "doing God's will", then what? The core belief that all life, that all persons, regardless of politics and ethnicity, are of equal value and importance, to be loved and cherished by everyone, needs to inspire the future.

  63. @ES Palestinians don't believe that all persons are of equal value and importance. Palestinians believe that they are superior to the Jews. The Palestinians say “The Jews are our dogs!” & “The Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs.”

  64. @m1945 Exactly the point. The non-recognition of the equal value of all human life resides on all sides of this, and any conflict What does assignment of blame accomplish?

  65. @m1945 Funny because Ive heard all those things from Israeli leaders. Do Christians and Muslims have the same right to immigrate to Israel as Jews? Seems like Israel doesnt consider all persons equally either.

  66. Thank you, this is very helpful in understanding more about a situation I feel I will never fully understand. I also wonder if the US is now living through our own "time of the attacks" and how we will look back on it.

  67. @April best comment of the day.

  68. Although Friedman makes the connection, I think many comments ignore it: this particular wave of terror was in response to peace negotiations. Those negotiations culminated in Barak peace proposal. The massive escalation in terror came instead of a counter proposal. This is what happened. Why this happened and why Palestinians (Arafat at the time) couldn't respond to the negotiations in kind really has no bearing on the Israeli election. Unfortunately, the why is the only thing that matters for an eventual peace plan. So we watch as reasonable responses to inexplicable actions lead to near total eclipse of hope. Fundamentally, Israel needs a leader capable of winning election with the message that peace is the only option, and that leader will need a partner with whom to negotiate.

  69. @Tinkers -- Consider what sort of peace proposal causes renewed fighting.

  70. @Tinkers Unfortunately, you are wrong. It would be nice if you were right.

  71. @Mark Thomason Consider who the other side is and how deeply their anti-Semitic hatred is? Are you aware of what is taught in some of the madras schools? That the infamous fraud "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is taught as truth? That there are financial reasons for carrying on the war, such as aid from other Arab nations? It is more complicated than you seem to think.

  72. Thank you for getting to the crux of the problem. Israelis may not a right-wing, intolerant government, but what is the choice? Sure, what now exists is a PR nightmare. But it's better than constant terror attacks.

  73. @Barry Chussin -- What is the choice? Peace. You make that with enemies, and stop killing each other. It requires compromise. It would require compromises that are "impossible." But they are no impossible.

  74. @Barry Chussin You are saying there's only one way. I disagree.

  75. @Mark Thomason In 1947, the scholars at Al-Azhar University (The highest authority in Sunni Islam.) declared holy war to return Palestine to Islamic rule. Compromise is difficult, but it's even more difficult when religion is involved. Palestinians feel a religious obligation to destroy Israel.

  76. Worldwide sympathy and support for Israel is decreasing because of Netanyahu's repeated human rights violations and aggressive grab of land to prevent a two State solution. The next US president and his/hers UN appointee might no longer dogmatically support Israel or veto anything critical without questions asked, and it would not upset a growing part of the American Jewish community.

  77. I wholeheartedly DISagree with Mr. Friedman's premise. Those of us who were here during that dreadful period (and too many periods like it) in our short history not only have not repressed it, but DO talk about it. It's sort of like, "Where were you when JFK was shot?" or "Where were you when Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon?" I realize that most likely Friedman doesn't want, or doesn't expect, NYT readers to take the title of his op-ed literally, but, hey, titles have great power. Lest anyone think that Israelis really don't want to discuss "that one thing," well. we do, and we do it often.

  78. @Elisheva Lahav actually i don't think that is his main premise. The point he wants to make is that Israeli's vote security for good reason with the trauma of the 2nd intifada. I agree though maybe the lead in could have been better.

  79. I kept thinking while reading: "Just eight?" "Just four?" "Just 10 or 12?" I know that sounds cold. Then why in the United States doesn't mass shootings of 26 children, 36 night clubbers, etc. etc. even make the hard hearts of politicians burn?

  80. @nlightning About 8.3 million people live in Israel, in America 327 million. See the difference?

  81. In 2018, the number of recorded Israeli deaths due to Terrorism was 14. This includes soldiers as well as Israeli Arabs. In the months following the second intifada, it was 200 per month. The reality from my comfy chair here in the US is that Netanyahu has been PM at a time of extraordinary positive change for and in Israel. His diplomatic endeavors have brought stunning new relationships to Israel among countries in the region as well as Africa. Intel, Microsoft and almost every other major tech player invests heavily in Israel. He has been an extraordinary leader and I can't see who can truly replace him. Different than the time of the Oslo accords, Hamas, hezbellah and Iran in Syria threaten Israel in a way that wasn't present back in the 1990s. Yet Israelis are secure. This alone speaks volumes to Netanyahu's leadership.

  82. This essay is one necessary part to explain the Israeli reticence to yield land. However, there is another critical part. That would be the Palestinians' objectives and how amenable they are to compromise with Israel. Too many are uninterested in the Palestinians' objectives and instead ask themselves "What would my objectives be if I were in the Palestinians' shoes?" The Palestinians know how westerners answer that question and are all too happy to tell them what they want to hear. However, in their communications among themselves, when they don't think they're communicating to the West, they are more likely to reveal their actual objectives. Those internal discussions among the Palestinians are critical.

  83. @Scott To your final point The Palestinian Media Watch does a rigorous job of translating and reporting what is written, spoken and broadcast in Arabic by political, intelectual and religious leaders. As you note this often contradicts what is written said and broadcast in English.

  84. @Scott Exactly -- their "acceptance" of two states is in English -- not Arabic

  85. @EDT PMW does great work, for those who are inclined to seek it out. Will any western media outlet report what PMW does, or would anyone mention any of it in a venue like the NY Times op-ed page?

  86. I think this must be right and it shows what a tragic mistake the intifada was for both peoples. To think Arafat walked away from a deal with Clinton which could have changed everything.

  87. @cort To think that there was no such deal, that Israel never offered to show Arafat a map of the new Palestinian state, that such a state would have no control over its borders, airspace, water supply, and foreign relations, that Palestinians would have to give up their rights under international wonder Arafat said no.

  88. @cort -- There were poison pills in that deal. That was the tragic mistake.

  89. It is impossible and foolish to deny the State of Israel lives under an existential threat. It would be disingenuous, though, to claim that threat, annihilation, comes from the Palestinians. It is not the powerless Palestinians who have the power to wipe Israel from the face of the earth. Iran holds that distinction begging the question why are the Israelis comforted by a prime minister who is poking and provoking an enemy and its proxies capable of eradicating their nation? A mideast war beginning with large scale military attacks between Israel and Iran will spiral out of control and not be contained to the region. The Palestinians are the least dangerous of Israel's many enemies. Netanyahu and his politically inspired militarism are far more dangerous and a greater threat.

  90. As a resident of Jerusalem from 2001 to 2003, I remember that tense and fearful time as if it were yesterday. Waking up to sirens and thinking that there must’ve been another bus bombing. A soldier knocking on the front door to tell us that a bomb was in the restaurant next door. Attending the shiva for the brother of a murdered acquaintance. Learning of the murder of one friend (and the maiming of another) in the Frank Sinatra Center at Hebrew University. Giving the once over to every young male with a backpack. Liberal or conservative, those fearful and painful feelings never quite leave you. Probably they even change you.

  91. No Israeli should have to experience the terror attacts described in the article. It should also be said that no Palestinian should have had to experience the terror attacts on them which occurred both prior to and after the establishment of Isael in 1948. Both sides have much to account for and the rest of the world should not be forced to take sides. I see no "happy ending" for some time to come but I suggest the illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank be removed forthwith. Jerusalem should be declared either a dual capital of both peoples or an international enclave by the UN. Obviously a complete "victory" cannot be declared by either side. In any case I suggest to both sides - grow up!

  92. @Cristino" His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." Palestine was, at the time, a remote province in the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, with which Britain had been at war since 1914. Yet despite having no claim to the territory, the British made the declaration without consulting its 650,00 inhabitants, made up of about 92 per cent Arabs (Muslim and Christian) and 8 per cent Jews. With World War I raging, many people in Europe had other things on their minds and paid little attention to this particular bit of political manoeuvring." Roots.

  93. @Please list the terror attacks on the Palestinions.To equate what happens to the Israelis on a daly basis is the height of foolishness

  94. @Cristino Xirau Jews have lived in Palestine for thousands of years. Palestinians ethnically cleansed Gaza of its Jews in 1929 and the West Bank & East Jerusalem of their Jews in 1948. Why is it illegal for Jews to rebuild their homes in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem?

  95. The article highlights a few very simple points--First, nothing happens in a vacum--actions breed reactions. Second, people don't vote their hopes, they vote their fears and third, neither party is without fault.

  96. I am struck by the parallel between living in Israel at that time and living in the US now in the era of mass shootings. Always wondering when the next will happen and whether it will be you or your children. Avoiding, or at least thinking about avoiding, public places. And the terror etiquette; is it appropriate to do anything fun the day after another slaughter? Is it politicizing a tragedy to try to do anything to stop more of them? It's not acknowledged as a war, and has no name, but more people are dying than in our country's acknowledged current wars.

  97. There is one gaping problem with this analogy, which is largely appropriate. Proportionality. The impact on the tiny Israeli population was orders of magnitude greater.

  98. @Tim Joseph Excellent point, and furthermore we here in the US tend to tuck these memories just as quickly. Nobody talks about the shootings much at get-togethers. We don't want to think about it at all.

  99. @Tim Joseph Considering the difference in sizes, imagine that we had 50,000 deaths by shootings each year in the US, or about 140 per day. Imagine who we'd elect in those circumstances.

  100. The very sad fact is that if the Palestinians had used non-violence, a la a King or Gandhi, to protest settlements tens of thousands of Israelis would have joined them and who knows what political progress would have been made. But as it is, they chose a very different route, and the result is very plain: They are infinitely worse off than they otherwise would have been. Palestinian use of terror was a catastrophic mistake, and it's actually tragic for both sides - but certainly for them.

  101. @Sheldon Agree. For despots — there is no wealth to be gained in nonviolence — so they make war and the money pours in even as violence brings more violence.

  102. @Sheldon But that's demonstrably not true - Palestinians in the last two years have been holding angry but mostly non-violent protests at the borders of Gaza and every from young males to nurses to children have been treated as potential terrorists and shot seemingly at random by snipers. Palestinians are in a bind: non-disruptive protests will just be ignored because they're hidden behind walls, whereas the media and Israeli government will portray any disruptive protest as a terrorist threat, which (a) de-legimitses Palestinian's genuine grievances and (b) allows the IDF to shoot people. Look at BDS - it is exactly like the movements of Gandhi and King but even that is described as an existential threat to Israel.

  103. @Sheldon This is not about the settlements. They would not have occurred, and would not be an obstacle now, if the Palestinians had ever been willing to recognize Israel (genuinely -- not in phony press releases in English)

  104. I don't have any qualms with the psychology, but the explanations are a bit onesided. The Palestinians could tell a similar story. The issue is whether you have leaders with courage enough to break the cycle. Or are they just opportunists intent on continuing to exploit the cycle?

  105. @Odo Klem I believe you're correct and therein lies the tragedy. These are two groups of people who have been victimized and traumatized by persecution and history. It's a tragedy that neither side has produced leaders with the wisdom, courage, and ability to break the cycle.

  106. @Odo Klem "The Palestinians could tell a similar story." Really? How many bus bombings, restaurants blown up and other mass murders did the Israelis inflict on the Palestinians. Sure there were individual outrages. Even the U.S. suffered individual attacks such as the Oklahoma City bombing. But Mr. Friedman is talking about a systematic series of mass murders that were tacitly condoned and sometimes explicitly endorsed by the Palestinian authority.

  107. @HH Not suicide bombings but air force attacks on buildings in which children were killed. Yes Hamas and Fatah put the children in harm's way. And Israel puts plenty of Israelis in harm's way too. The point is that there was terrible harm. And harm leads to hatred of the immediate cause: not your side but the other side.

  108. I remember calculating whether I dared take a public bus as a tourist in Israel in 2003-2004. The country was unusually devoid of American tourists in that era. Thank you for the reminder of some of the relevant history to the current position of Israelis.

  109. @Working Mama Same. I didn’t take local buses, only intercity

  110. I am 73, and remember this period very well. A few points. 1) The Intifadas don't come up in conversation in Israel more - or less - than the other wars. They are part of common knowledge. For 3 years I drove my teenage daughter everywhere, even the mall, so she wouldn't use a bus. I never knew if she was coming back in a new blouse or in a body bag. 2) The numbers (according to B' Tzelem): 84 Israelis killed in the First Intifada, 1011 in the second. A minority were military and security personnel. 3) What turned off the Left - me included - from any fantasies of a negotiated peace was not the outrages themselves, but the popular celebrations that followed them. "Successful" outrages, such as bus bombings with 20+ dead, were celebrated in Palestine streets with music, dancing, burning cardboard Israeli buses and giving away sweets, like in a wedding. We got it: Oslo was a scam. 4) The two countries we have peace treaties with - Jordan and Egypt - were and are military dictatorships, whose rulers understood that "if you can't lick'em, sign a peace treaty till you can". Peace there is top-down. Israeli tourists, businesses, performers, clients, etc. - are not welcome in those countries to this day, decades after the signings. 5) So our only hope for a marginally normal life is to withdraw unilaterally to UN-sanctioned borders (as in Lebanon or Gaza), and always make sure we have enough firepower to prevent anyone from thinking it was an act of weakness.

  111. @Ury Those who do not learn from the past are bound to repeat their mistake. Unilateral withdrawing from Gaza, gave us Hamas , with " a (daily) marginal normal life" ?. The problem is that they just do not want Israel around.

  112. @UryV What about the millions of Palestinians in Israel or Israel controlled areas? Do they have the kind of life you would want for yourself or your children? Will continuing to shrink and marginalize them with new settlements make them more compliant and easy to live with? I am not anti- Jewish, but as an outsider, having such a large, angry, marginalized population living in your country (but not in your country) ultimately looks dangerous. They won't disappear. there are too many. Maybe Israel needs to cultivate and encourage the most moderate, civil society leaders of the Palestinians. Bring them into government, include them. Find the Palestinian Nelson Mandela.

  113. @UryV I would add to point five the need to engage in a asymmetric campaign that slowly disintegrates Palestinians. It sort of works, but then you have all these other countries that need to over living space as well -- a hard sell. The sadness is that ancient religions keep otherwise fruitful, accommodating people from collectively thriving. A real solution would have both parties agree to separate religion from government. It seems like Israel is winning something but really Bibi, et. al. are just delaying evolution as specified by the enlightenment thinkers and as implemented in the American constitution. The entire world is waiting for all parties to grow up and smell reality -- ancient religions are retro-grade to advanced civilizations. Treading water awaiting final victory of some super-natural being is just never going to happen.

  114. It would be great for the NYT to do a similar article about Palestinians memories and how that shapes their actions. I suspect there are a lot of similarities to what in this article. Getting perspectives from both sides is what great journalism is all about.

  115. Quite right! I also think that with the recent spate of mass shootings in the US, Americans are more able to understand the deep trauma of random violence. What’s interesting is that, despite their own experiences, many Israelis are unable to understand that Palestinians have their own heartbreaking stories of violence. Two traumatized peoples, steeped in victimhood, unable to reach out, to trust or to forgive. That’s what makes this conflict so intractable.

  116. @Maison, You are right. Matti Friedman's column provides valuable insight and explanation that helps our understanding. But it reflects Israeli concerns and a perspective that (at least as I read it) is essentially supportive of Netanyahu's policies toward the Palestinians. Columns by Palestinian and Palestinian-American writers giving voice to their point (or points) of view are also needed.

  117. @Maison This was an opinion piece - not investigative journalism. If Palestinians would be so introspective, they might acknowledge that terrorism has hurt their ability to live in peace, to create a stable state, to achieve their people's aspirations and to thrive in the world. I don't see those essays.

  118. This has to be the longest running conflict (war) in the history of mankind. Pick either side and you'll be right or you'll be wrong; there is no middle ground. Like some zombie, long after you and I are dead, this will live on.

  119. @RonRich Not even close. The English and French were at war for pretty much of the entire period 1066-1815. The Irish-English war (it has no name) is nearly was nearly as long, assuming it's over. You have to wonder with all the nonsense about "the backstop." It will end, just like the English-French war of 1066-1815. Going by that, we have another 700 years to go.

  120. @RonRich No it's not the "longest running conflict (war) in the history of mankind." The conflict between the Jewish Israelis and the Palestinians began in the early 20th century with roots in the 19th century. The conflict between the Jews and Christians dates to the 2nd century CE. The conflict between the Muslims and Christians dates from the 8th century to the present; also the conflict between Muslims and Hindus. The conflict between Native Americans and Europeans lasted from the 16th century into the 20th century. The conflict between Muslims and Hindus

  121. @RonRich Back to history class Ron.

  122. I am a relatively rare specimen -- a left-thinking American-Israeli citizen who tries to avoid the hatred. Some of our "friends" call Arabs "animals". I tell them that when my wife was in the hospital, a wonderful "animal" took great care of her. And yet -- I feel the pull of right-wing nationalism too. I will probably vote for a liberal party in this upcoming election, but the beat-your-chest, them-or-us drum beat is loud and terrifying. I was brought up to believe that we are all human beings, we all want the same things. Hard to remember at times, but very, very important to try.

  123. @David. Thanks for this comment, which needs to be said. I have never traveled to Israel, though my wife and daughter have and both were profoundly moved by the experience. Nor have I had the experience of living in a place where the prospect of serious injury or death by terror is high. So perhaps my comment is naive or irrelevant. But in reading this essay, I had the same bifurcated response, that of understanding how fear can motivate public opinion and how the desire for security can work against the desire for peace, but also to wonder how peace can ever be achieved when negotiations can be derailed by a faction of one side or the other that does not want peace. When one, two, or even a hundred suicide bombers in a population of millions can destroy peace, then the course of our futures rests in the hands of the zealots among us.

  124. @David We don't all want the same things because we were brought up differently. ‘son's death was "best day of my life," says Palestinian mother’ How can a mother who loves her son say that his death was the "best day of my life?" The explanation is that she believes that her son's becoming a martyr by dying while attacking Jews gives him instant access to Paradise & eternal happiness. People who believe as she does don't want peace. They want conflict because conflict provides an opportunity for martyrdom. Most Americans don't want their children to be martyrs.

  125. @m1945 One need only wonder why Masada is an Israeli national monument if the Jewish people dont celebrate martyrs.

  126. The great tragedy is that those Palestinians who engaged in this violence were trying to ‘bring the war home,’ to ensure that ordinary Israelis felt the cost of the occupation. They failed miserably and the opposite has happened. The Israeli left has collapsed and the walls have gotten bigger and stronger. The Israelis live by and large in a place of denial vis a vis the occupation of the Palestinian territories. Netanyahu may have saved citizens in Israel from violent attacks, but he has pushed the reckoning forward into an untenable future. We have one de facto state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean with two populations treated unequally. From what I see most Israelis don’t seem to care: Out of sight, out of mind. But in the long run, the idea of a democratic Jewish state is dying.

  127. @Ken of Sag Harbor Actually I think the article is about the fact that the Palestinians who engaged in violence did succeed in "bringing the war" home to the Israeli population. I wouldn't conflate a drop in attacks with denial. I doubt there's much denial for parents sending their children off to the army while watching rockets fired at their homes.

  128. @Ken of Sag Harbor No, you don't have one de facto state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Gaza & the West Bank are not part of Israel & are not treated as if they're part of Israel. Did we have one de facto state when we occupied Japan & Germany after world war 2 or we occupied Iraq? Of course not!

  129. @Ken of Sag Harbor No, those Palestinians who engaged in violence made folks feel the cost. The left felt it most.

  130. A very interesting piece, useful precisely because it largely ignores politics per se and instead focuses on the psychological framework within which politics plays out. This is a welcome addition rather than just another article reading like a dog doing you-know-what on a hydrant. What came to mind reading this were the British "troubles." Perhaps some of you of appropriate generation across the pond would comment on this. Certainly the current angst about the Irish backstop for Brexit has the "troubles" as part of the mix.

  131. I think the analysis is correct but people in Jerusalem during this phase were out-of-the-ordinary bravely resolved to conduct ordinary lives and not flee. A big sense of nothing can "dislodge me", or make me change my Israeli views. During these phases, the old city was largely vacant and spectacularly beautiful notwithstanding desperately needing tourist dollars. Walking the cobblestones mostly alone is peaceful as the history of the area is vivid and spiritual. Notwithstanding Netanyahu or others, at any given moment, conservatives and liberals exercise freedom of the press and free speech. You can get an ear full of "this or that" but not be entirely sure which Century is being discussed especially in Jerusalem. Everyone needs to visit Israel election time or not.

  132. Israelis want peace inside their borders. This is not an unreasonable agenda for a nation. Unfortunately, the current spate of colonizing the West Bank leads to angry neighbors. Palestinians want peace inside their borders. Again, this is not an unreasonable agenda for a nation. Unfortunately, the suicide bombings of civilians leads to very angry neighbors. Unfortunately for all of us, the lurch to the right has led to more appetite for violence, or at least more acceptance of it. I blame nobody for wanting security. My real conundrum is that how you secure your security can be even more important than having that security in the first place, and this often gets lost in the rush.

  133. @Jacob Sommer I think you are confusing cause and effect. The colonization followed the four "nos." The Palestianians (leadership and most of their public) have yet to manifest any serious willingness for a two-state solution. I wish you were right. But you aren't.

  134. @Jacob Sommer "...Palestinians want peace inside their borders. Again, this is not an unreasonable agenda for a nation. Unfortunately, the suicide bombings of civilians leads to very angry neighbors...." Since 2007, there have been about 7 or 8 suicide bombings in Israel. 7 or 8 too many, without question, but a far cry from the period Friedman discusses. During this same period, the number of colonists in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has doubled. This expansion has come at the cost of numberless home demolitions, assaults on protestors, confinement without charge, and all the outrages attendant upon the brutal military conducting of an occupation. So suicide bombings have all but vanished and Israel has accelerated and expanded - doubled! - its illegal adventures against Palestinians. Perhaps Mr Friedman might look elsewhere for a cogent explanation of Israeli behavior?

  135. @ghosty They didn't vanish, they were thwarted. Big difference. While inside Israel, knife stabbings and vehicular homicide (running into and over pedestrians) have replaced the suicide bombs that Palestinians used to use.

  136. It is amazing how the entire world, including the US, essentially refuses to acknowledge the existential threat the Israelis live under constantly. Israel was truly ready to give much to get peace. The Palestinian leadership recognized that peace represented an existential threat to their hegemony, and they torpedoed the process. It's mostly that simple. It is awful for both the Palestinian and Israeli people.

  137. @MHW It is amazing how the entire world, including the US, essentially refuses to acknowledge the existential threat thePalestinians live under constantly. The State of Palestine was truly ready in 2014 to give much to get peace. The new Palestinian unity government was a serious threat to the Netanyahu & Co. agenda. Hamas was moving to accept all the pre-conditions of peace negotiations. Increased pressures for a peaceful solution to the age-old conflict would lead to a premature setting of borders. International acceptance of the Fatah-Hamas alliance infuriated Netanyahu & Co, particularly US acceptance. It was imperative that Hamas be demonized (again) and a destructive wedge be driven into Palestinian politics. So Netanyahu provoked Hamas and started the 2014 war on Gaza.

  138. @Greg That doesn't explain why there was no peace before Netanyahu. This conflict is not about establishing a Palestinian state. If Palestinians wanted a state, they would have declared independence in 1948. Instead, they asked for union with Jordan. The conflict is that Palestinians want Israel destroyed & the Israelis don't want Israel destroyed.

  139. @MHW Existential threat? The Israelis are not taking the high road. The opposing side is throwing rocks. Compare the numbers between Palestinians and Israelis dead and wounded. Far from fair fight, but I guess might makes right.

  140. Thomas Friedman take note of this column and the many comments backing up its point. Not everyone - particularly those who actually live in Israel - take your view of Benjamin Netanyahu. Matti Friedman gives the best explanation I've ever seen as to how that can be the case.

  141. @HurryHarry -- Genuine fear does not justify doing things that can only make worse the things feared.

  142. Sounds like an interesting film, and the essay makes a number of good points, and is an indictment of the terror-based "war of liberation" concept pioneered by the PLO, and emulated by so many others (Sendero Luminoso, Tamil Tigers, Al Qaeda, ISIS, to name a few of the more prominent ones). This approach has obviously led to dead ends, accomplishing the opposite of what it intended. Nonetheless, this does not exonerate the aims of the main Israeli political parties to continually push more and more settlements into the West Bank. Now, especially, when Palestinians on the West Bank seem to have given up the PLO terror-attack agenda, is an excellent time to reengage them in peace talks. Sadly, this almost certainly won't happen. How many more years peace through repression, followed by periods of rage and bloodshed, will the Palestinians and Israelis have to endure until they BOTH are ready to accommodate the other?

  143. @Lotzapappa For what it's worth, the genealogy of modern terrorism is IRA, Tamil Tigers, everyone else. The Basque terrorists are somewhere in there, near the front.

  144. The PLO did not "pioneer" the use of terrorism for "liberation." Zionists, too, employed terrorist tactics when fighting to create Israel. Look up the bombing of the King David Hotel. No one side can claim innocence or victimhood. Both sides have their radical elements.

  145. Sadly, your glib comments show you do not follow Israeli news. Rockets continue to be fired into Israel, Gazans continue to riot at the fence, terror balloons lighting fires continue to be launched into Israel burning thousands of acres of Israeli farmland and killing wildlife, and a 17 year old girl was blown up at a spring. This list does not include all the prevented terror attacks.

  146. As an American citizen I never had a problem with supporting and defending the interests of Israel with the feeling they are part of a larger American / Israeli family in many ways. However, when a 'family' member decides to morph into a theocracy after being a secular state, I sometimes ask myself what it is that I'm supporting. I also would not feel the same loyalty to my own country if it decides to become more theocratic under the guise of religious liberty. It's truly disturbing to see the members of one's family become more intolerant, insular, and tribal. I keep hoping sanity and open-mindedness will return to the peoples of the world, but maybe that's just an exercise in wishful thinking.

  147. This article nails it. I remember watching in horror the almost weekly attacks Israel had to endure and the way Arafat and the entire “mainstream” Palestinian leadership condoned and justified it. In that same period, terror hit home 9/11 (I don’t even like to think about that day) So yes, I can say (politically correct or not), that the “occupation” should continue until the Kamakaze element of Palestinian society is no more, or at least if there is a political partner that can be trusted to seriously fight it. On the other hand, Israel as a democracy, has a responsibility to the Palestinians as well to let them maintain a viable, contiguous piece of land. That is where I strongly disagree with Israel allowing settlers to build houses deep within land that should really be set aside. Whatever security benefit Israel gets by dividing up the West Bank is not worth it in the long run.

  148. As an American observer, I can understand, even commiserate, the writer's explanation of the success of the Israeli right, even the changes in reactions as expressed in the memorials to the victims of terrorist bombings. But what I cannot understand is how these terror bombings could act as an impetus for expanding the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. I cannot speak for all Americans, but it appears to me that if there is anything that gives pause in offering unqualified support for them, is the Israeli policy regarding settlements.

  149. @Bob Sometimes expanding settlements is due to population growth within them at other times it is in frustration at the lack of peace negotiations. Occasionally it is a reaction to terrorism.

  150. I just missed out on being a victim of a terrorist attack in Jerusalem when I purchased a chocolate bar at the last moment. Thankfully, in this case there were no deaths. Chairman Arafat turned down the Camp David agreement brokered by Bill Clinton with Israeli PM (Labor -- left) Ehud Barak. Instead of giving Palestinians the state that they would have had in 1948 had they not attacked Israel instead, Arafat decided to resort to the terrorism mentioned in this article. There is hope by leveraging the Iran's desire to create nuclear weapons. The Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia are allied with Israel regarding Shia Iran. If the Saudis and Egyptians insisted that Palestinians hold new elections, this might be a first step towards a peace agreement. As long as Hamas is running Gaza, peace is highly unlikely otherwise.

  151. And this argument reduces to this: A wrong justifies a greater wrong- more repression and more violence. Never mind the cause and never mind the future consequence. And if more repression fails to end the crisis (but worsens it-as almost every General, Statesmen, Intelligence officer and diplomat knows)- then still more- until the nation loses its soul.

  152. I understand where Mr. Friedman is coming from. As a Jew, I am committed to Israel's survival. As a New Yorker, I know what it's like to walk past a thriving urban gathering place and flash back to when it was the scene of an unspeakable atrocity. But as an American, I also know what happens when citizens surrender to fear and blindly follow politicians who promise 'security' above all - never mind the messy details. I sincerely hope that the people of Israel will choose a different path.

  153. I live in Israel and have attended lectures given by the author. Lest someone believe he is endorsing Bibi that would be far from the truth for he is just trying to explain his strength in the electorate. There have been other events that pulled the carpet out from under left wing arguments, and I am view myself as center left, which have been used effectively by the right. Most prominent among these was the Gaza withdrawal for although done by a right wing government it was a left wing cause. On the left we believed that relinquishing land to the Palestinians would manifest in a more peaceful relationship and the build up of economic stability rather than militancy thereby serving the Palestinian community. Instead, Hamas tragically, and more so for the Palestinians, embarked on militant confrontation that eventuates in not only Israeli military attacks but various measures that made living in Gaza even tougher. Bibi’s resilience as Matti points out is the result of policies of an unwise Palestinian leadership that held out hope of an eventual military conquest rather than learning from its neighbors that you can get more from Israel from negotiations. Presently as we prepare fir elections Bibi may be slipping in popularity nit because the peace camp has gained strength but because corruption, and his recent attacks on the courts and even election integrity, a pure Trumpian move, have upset even some who prefer his security credentials. His undoing may be his behavior.

  154. I am no fan of Netanyahu and less so of his alliances with those further to the right that Israel's electoral process unfortunately encourages. It has always been obvious to me though that Netanyahu's initial and continued victories could not have happened without Israel's moderates (and some former leftists) voting security in the wake of the 2nd Intifada. I welcome the on target perspectives in this article but have to wonder why stating the obvious should be necessary for so many long time commenters on Israel who regularly decry Netanyahu's policies without acknowledging the tragic violence of the 2nd Intifada that brought and kept him in power. This is a complex situation so I appreciate why casual observers might have flawed perspectives. There is no excuse for those whose job it is to know better but who write out of bias, ignorance or just wanting to jump on the anti-Netanyahu bandwagon without putting in the time to ask the hard questions. There's a dangerous superficiality to so many anti-Israel sentiments in a deadly serious conflict. I suspect the failure of critics around the globe to acknowledge Israel's deep and legitimate security concerns actually pushes Israelis to the right as they feel the world will do nothing when their lives are at stake. Are they wrong? Meanwhile I hope a more moderate but security competent alternative emerges to Netanyahu's right wing coalition. More recognition of the perspectives of this article will support that outcome.

  155. There is no such thing as a safe place today. Just looking around, there is always a trouble spot, everywhere. Politicians come up with their own Agenda that often runs counter to what the people wish for. That makes it harder to understand what Peace stands for.

  156. This is an essential and insightful point of view. And an interesting read after reading other news today about a middle class Palestinian who just died after fleeing his middle class home and business in Gaza because of the oppression of Hamas. If someone is Pro-Palestinian - as I consider myself - but only limits their interest in Palestinian lives when they are snuffed out by Israel, they are NOT pro-Palestinian. But let's be clear that Netanyahu has zero interest in any long-term plan for Israel's security. As with the Palestinian leadership, the status quo of fear, heartbreak and diplomatic stasis is maintained because it is ideal for maintaining an iron grip. I am pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian and remain hopeful that one day, true leadership on both sides will come to the table and create a plan not only for two states, but for real peace. Again, thank you for this important and heartbreaking reminder that the situation for Palestinians is based on a far more complicated and terrible history.

  157. I wonder also about the long term effects of the assassination of Yitzak Rabin. From my outsider perspective, it seemed that Israel never elevated a leader after that who was genuinely interested in peace and reconciliation.

  158. @Theo Baker Ehud Barak was going to make many concessions. Ehud Olmert was ready to give everything away. The Palestinians' leaders always want everything. Arafat and Abbas (the president elected to a 4 yr term 14 years ago) turned these offers down. There are 2 leaders for you that were also interested in peace and reconciliation.

  159. @Theo Baker When the Bush lead US coalitions invaded the Mideast without a plan or leadership the resulting failure, chaos and destabilizations encouraged resistance at every level. Thus undermined any possible reconciliation or peace plan for generations. Your hopeful leader has not been born yet.

  160. " It’s too awful. Because the carnage wasn’t on a distant battlefield or limited to soldiers, the experience encompassed the whole society, and you don’t forget images or fear like that ..." It would have been helpful for our understanding of human nature if the op-ed had considered how the Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere have seared into their memories the greater carnage that has been visited upon them by Israel. I am not bringing this up to stir up the debate as to which side is at greater fault, but rather to better understand how awful events are processed by the victim side.

  161. @wd40 I think an evenhanded approach is good, too. But we often hear the Palestinian side, both from the left and from the media. This point of view is rarely represented. Perhaps the difference is that the violence against residents of what is now Israel occurred generations ago, when Israel was founded. There has been Israeli leadership since that tried to negotiate for peace. Has there been sincere negotiation from the other side? I hope that one day, there will be sincere interest and actual planning for it from both.

  162. @wd40 You contradict yourself when you state that the Palestinians experience greater carnage by Israel then you ingenuously suggest you’re not looking to debate fault but understand victimhood. You might also want to “process” what sort of religion endorses glorious benefits for suicidal murder.

  163. @wd40 This could all have been over 18 years ago but the so-called Palestinians preferred the status quo. Now let them enjoy it.

  164. The hated wall and the hated checkpoints and travel restrictions are what has stopped the attacks. At the time of the attacks even "liberal" Israelis demanded the wall be built "so high that birds cannot fly over it". The wall and security measures kept the peace. Netanyahu takes credit for continuing security but he is not the cause of it, and there is no planning going on for a better future.

  165. Add to this the unhealed trauma from Europe, and every war since, include Munich, Entebbe, and less known crises, and you begin to understand the complex psychology of repressed fear and pain. Like all traumas, they trigger and reinforce each other and cannot be parsed and separated.

  166. I was in college at this time in the US and was friends with several Israeli exchange students. I remember their constant fear for friends and family at home. On September 11th, I met up with some of these same friends on the completely full, completely silent campus quad. One of my Israeli friends said quietly, "now you know how it feels." The insensitivity of that remark still rankles, but I also think that this comparison is the best way to explain it to Americans.

  167. Every time I read an article on the frightening and miserable situation extant in Israel, the comments come down in dug-in, hardened, binary perspective. Over here each side rails theoretically against the other. Over there each side has to live day upon day with harsh and unkind realities, and their activities are anything but abstract. Here, from the safety of my home, all I can do is feel bad for both sides and hope that someday a concrete form of love and understanding will enter the equation.

  168. @Bert Floryanzia There are millions of Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Jews, all over the world who share your hope and a desire for transcendence beyond mutually assured violence.

  169. The article seems to forget the initiating event of the intifada: Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount in September, 2000. To any one watching, it was clear he was looking for trouble, thereby looking for an excuse to abandon the peace process. Many terrorist bombings took place in Jerusalem prior to the early 2000's but they did not stop Yitzak Rabin from seeking his dream of peace. And when he was shot and killed many Israelis were as devastated as those who had experienced the horror of suicide bombings.

  170. @Maia Brumberg-Kraus Oh, right. Visiting a place "looking for trouble" is plenty of reason to start killing people. That said, it is true that there is no trap so simple that the other side in this constant crisis will not fall or walk into it. Set up an orange crate with any old lure and the other guy will go for it.

  171. @Maia Brumberg-Kraus I get it, a place historically connected to Jews for thousands of years that was captured by Muslims, than again recaptured by Jews who pray every year "Next Year in Jerusalem" who's Temple Mount is governed by Jordan,should not be shared by the 2 religions? While people like to blame the intifada on Arik Sharon's visit and not on the perpetrators is as bad as saying a woman wearing revealing clothes asked for her rape.Wondering,I’m still waiting for the Palestinians to unearth a 2,000 year-old coin bearing the inscription of Palestinian forefathers, alongside a yearning to fight for the freedom of “Al Quds.”

  172. Some implications of this, both for itself and as representative of many other conflicts: Yes, it's important to know the psychological undercurrents. It doesn't go away even if it's not talked about. As shown, it can continue to exert a huge force. The biggie: But how do you break the pattern, especially as rare attempts to do so are so fragile? And more generally, in this and many other issues: how "Success" is defined should consider the strength and prevalence of backlashes from contemplated actions towards a cause. We see over and over that these can be powerful, painful, and not difficult to foresee. A "defeated" enemy doesn't necessary stay that away. They can continue to tell their (equally partial) narrative, plot, and strike back, leading to predictable cycles or more of the same. Some modest suggestions: While security will always be important, as Samuel Goldman writes in another article today (about whether the U.S. colonists took lessons from the biblical Israelites), don't forget Righteousness. The Prophets didn't. Seek to practice empathy towards the "enemy," Not a naive form of it, but one that tries to look for the "universality" Goldman also mentions. "Leadership" must be re-defined to include these. Given the fragility of peace-seeding, it must be practiced by both sides. It also must be shown both by governments, and, as, discussed in another article a few days ago I believe about a Toni Morrison speech, even by communities most effected by tragedy.

  173. How many Palestinians died during this period? Why does Mr. Friedman not mention that? And how many Palestinians have died since? How many thousands in the various Israeli attacks on Gaza alone? It is easy to understand how Israelis fear during this period turned into a hardcore animosity towards Palestinians. But that is always how it works; if people can see themselves as victims and their victims as aggressors, then it doesn't have to ask the hard questions of why any of this is happening? It does not have to do the self-examination that would be necessary. It's easy to dehumanize people in this conflict - on both sides - but its worth noting that only Israel had the option of walling itself off from the Palestinians by walling them in and accelerating its theft of Palestinian land. Then and now, the Palestinians can only suffer massively disproportionate losses of life and land and hope that holding on to existence is enough of a victory to keep them going.

  174. @Shaun Narine I don't necessarily think you are wrong about the need for Israeli self examination, however, I think the Palestinians also need to come to terms with their part in the long sad history of the middle east. 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. To a large extent, in my humble opinion, the Palestinians have been used as pawns by their Arab brethren in a larger geopolitical struggle that at it's core, has never conceded the right of Israel to exist. There used to be a time when Jews and Arabs peacefully coexisted. All the prior Jewish communities in the Arab world have disappeared and their people have been assimilated in Israel. How many Palestinians have been assimilated and given citizenship in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt? Israelis have not been given many good options when surrounded by hostile powers bent on the compete annihilation of the state and presumably people.

  175. @steven Correct. There is a lot of historical amnesia or lack of knowledge in many of these postings.

  176. @Shaun Narine You miss the point of the article. The point is to explain how the Israeli public see things and how it reflects the upcoming vote. This wasn't a piece on the rights and wrongs of the conflict. As an answer to your questions, why is it so hard for the Palestinians to talk and discuss peace. Why aren't they running ot the peace table. Why must the table always be perfectly set for them before they are willing to show up. Then when they do show up, they refuse anythingless than 100% of their demands. I'm sorry, but so much of the Palestinaian suffering today is a result of 50 years of bad, anti-jewish policy by their leaders. First their leaders in in Jordan, Egypt and Syria, then Arafat and now Hamas and Fatah. The blame doesn't fall all on Israel. There will never be peace until the Palestinians look within themselves and have the freedom to say what they see.

  177. This is important, but it leaves out at least half of the story. Those Palestinians weren't intrinsically evil outsiders appearing out of nowhere, they were part of an ongoing war, essentially, in which the Palestinians could (and still can) also point to a lot of deaths, and ongoing dispossession and injustice (in spite of Oslo). To fully remember those times requires remembering a whole history.

  178. @John Bergstrom No one would have been killed, displaced or lost any land if racist Palestinians had not tried to exterminate the Jews. The day after the UN Partition Resolution in November 1947, racist Palestinians started a genocidal war to exterminate the Jews. Haj Amin el-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem – “I declare a holy war, my Muslim brothers! Murder the Jews! Murder them all!” The war started with Palestinians attacking a Jewish bus driving on the Coastal Plain near Kfar Sirkin killing five and wounding others. Half an hour later they ambushed a second bus from Hadera, killing two more. Arab snipers attacked Jewish buses in Jerusalem and Haifa. Wars create refugees!

  179. @John Bergstrom Your comment is full of truth, but the op/ed was about why Netanyahu enjoys support, and how a chapter of intense national trauma affects the Israeli psychi and politics. Full stop.

  180. @John Bergstrom and yet you forget the dispossession of Jews throughout the Arab world post 1948 - nearly one million with their properties and often belongings taken from them.

  181. Israel and Palestine have had nearly 70 years to work out the anger, their grievances and come to a peaceful resolution even it ot only results in each country going its separate ways and ignoring each other. I concluded long ago that their tribal war would go on forever. My hope is that the one we are waging here in the US has a short shelf life. Tribal wars are no win scenarios.

  182. @Steve the problem is that they aren't two separate countries. How does a state of Palestine help the Muslims who live in Israel, or the Jews who live in the West Bank? As long as "peace" means the virtual violence of borders, walls, and apartheid for minority citizens, it will be opposed. Peace has to mean peace. It has to mean that no ethnicity is special, no religion official, and no people more important than others. Anything else is not peace. It is oppression.

  183. I'm sincerely pleased to see so many non binary, nuanced comments. It may be illusory, but it is cause to hope.

  184. As the author noted, this period was really a civil war, with terrible casualties for Israelis numbering over 1,000, according to one reader. My recollection is that there were over 3,000 casualties on the Palestinian side, and I recall the great hope that the Oslo Accord would actually bring some improvements to that horrible Middle Eastern period. Anyone can watch the Frontline report on the failings of the Oslo Accord that led to its failure, and there is blame to go around. It's safe to say that there were real opportunities lost with it's demise and as bad as things may seem right now, there is plenty more life to be sacrificed on the road to a lasting peace because the roots of the conflict remain, and I suspect this is why the collective memory is sporting such a serious blindspot.

  185. If you have lived and travelled in the Middle East, it is obvious Trump is now institutionalizing Hate and Blood revenge in the United States. People, including Kushner, Miller and Trump do not realize we are slowly crossing that thin line that gave us just enough innocence to lead the world as we gradually solve our own Civil Rights issues as Elijah Cummings and others fought for. Isn’t there something in Jewish tradition that says there must be a group of people in the society that do not be allowed or forced gaze upon the dead, so they remain emotionally innocent enough hold their spirit steady and positive to lead others? I could be wrong about this, but if not, with Trump having unlimited dictatorial power backed by the DOJ and Mitch McConnell, it makes sense. We are destroying our innocence that allowed us to lead and help heal others, as Samantha Powers wished us to do as an idealist.

  186. @Ray "Isn’t there something in Jewish tradition that says there must be a group of people in the society that do not be allowed or forced gaze upon the dead, so they remain emotionally innocent enough hold their spirit steady and positive to lead others?" Your sentence is a grammatical mess. I have no idea what you're asking.

  187. It's quite a background these attacks took place in: a cosmopolitan capital city with wide boulevards, bus terminals, restaurants, coffee houses, apparently very bad pizza, and a population apparently with an insatiable appetite for enjoying these pleasures. I get the impression that living standards and such enjoyments are not as high or attractive in the occupied territory, in fact quite the reverse. How could two neighboring regions differ so much in standard of living? I suppose one possibility would be that the Palestinian people put all their energy into making bombs and carrying out suicide attacks, and that if they put that time and energy into their infrastructure they could enjoy all the amenities that Jerusalem offers its citizens and visitors. Hmm, this might sound foolish, but maybe there's a deeper history? One involving maybe forced exile from a homeland? Maybe evictions from homes? Maybe bulldozed homes? Maybe brutal treatment of a civilian population by state security forces? No, it can't be that! Truth be told, methinks the Israeli people might be repressing more (historical) memories than this piece admits of.

  188. In my memory, there was a promise in the Oslo accords for an independemt Palestine by 2000. I have always assumed that the inability or unwillingness to deliver on that promise fueled the desperation and carnage of the second intifada. I deeply appreciate this author's and the film maker's portrait of the effects of the terror on their lives. It was horrible. I struggle to reconcile these two experiences. On the one hand, the despair of ongoing occupation and the brutality that must be endured to enforce that occupation. On the other, the horrorific violence, written here, endured by those whose only crime is living their lives among these forces grinding in different directions. What is to be done? Killing is wrong, in all the diections it is aimed. How can it not be needed?

  189. Matti Freidman should be required reading for anyone forming opinions about Israel and its neighbors. So many have developed their opinions or policies within the framework of US or European history and that is proving to be an improper starting point. The lived experience within Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and neighboring countries is foreign to us. We can study it but we can't fully understand it. Fear is a challenging emotion to understand, particularly when we live in relative security and/or have fears of our own. Don't think so, look at the reaction Americans have to a school shooting for example and realize that most of us will never know a victim and often hadn't even heard of the town prior to the tragedy. Most Israelis are inimitably familiar with the victims or at least the locations of the attacks from the earlier part of the century. Of course this fear will dominate their worldview.

  190. I started rabbinical school in Jerusalem in June 2002, the month after the Moment Cafe bombing and a month after the class preceding mine was sent home early because of parental pressure on the school's administration. Was it a scary time to be in Israel? Yes. Yet it was also scary for the Israeli public to see Americans fleeing. I felt it to be my obligation to arrive by mid-June to let the faculty and staff of my seminary to know that we would never abandon the people. During the year I would walk to school and when I moved out of walking distance, the school would reimburse my taxi fare. The day before Purim the No. 6 bus, I bus I had dared take only a week before, was blown up at the stop only 100 meters from where I had been sleeping. And yet the Israeli public continues--to live, to have children, to go forward in life.

  191. @David: more than move me, which your essay most assuredly did, you racked focus on your MemoryCam and allowed me to recapture one of my own: my sister was walking past an ice cream stand in Zion Square many years ago. A few minutes earlier she had demolished a baklava and was seriously considering a cone....then thought better of it. This self-restraint likely saved her young life. The PLO bomb was concealed in the stand's trash can. It went off moments after she'd turned away and started to move on. I shall NEVER FORGET looking and wincing at the sight -- an ugly one -- of the shrapnel peppering my beloved sister's back to this day. It haunts me still. Not so much, but still. Than k you for this letter, David. Shalom jan michael sherman 9207 truman road, halfmoon bay, b.c. [email protected]

  192. @David How about Palestinian life?

  193. @David if you are still a rabbi. . .what do you tell your congregation about the conflict?

  194. Israel had the right to build its wall at or within the Green Line. It had no right to build the wall on land in the occupied territories. The "defensive" wall was in fact a land grab. It the wall was so great for the peace and security of Israeli citizens, why are Isreal citizens building thousands of houses outside the wall? Clearly Israelis have chosen land over peace.

  195. My father once asked, when speaking of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "What do you do when both sides are right?"

  196. Had Israel ended the humanitarian disaster that is the Occupation and colonization of Palestine, none of this would have happened.

  197. @H. A. How dare they occupy their own land.

  198. I'm over 80 and the continued hatred taught by Pal's leaders does not auger well for a true peace. Nothing has changed since 1948. Who can blame the Israel people for continued awareness of Hamas and PLO goals.?

  199. After all this time, I have little sympathy for the Palestinians or the Israelis. They have a self made mess that only they can resolve. Fine, so be it. Both parties can wallow in their quicksand until they decide "enough". My belief is that won't happen for another generation at the earliest.

  200. Justice for all may be the ultimate revenge.

  201. In December 1982 UN General Assemby resolution 37/43 was adopted which confirmed "the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle”.

  202. Thank you for writing this. It is good to remember this part of the story. The terrible thing about chaos, violence and the absence of rule of law, is how difficult it is to regain a civil society. Denial of the problem of millions of Palestinians isn't going to just go away, unless Israel is willing to commit "ethnic cleansing". For the obtuse, I am not suggesting they are, or that they should, commit genocide. Simply pushing them into smaller, more and more marginalized spaces without viable work or good prospects for the future, is only compressing the problem, ultimately making it more volatile. They have awful leadership. Is Israel doing anything to help them establish strong civic leaders, or are Israeli leaders happy to have corrupt, ineffective, easily manipulated Palestinian leaders? Israel can't be a full real democracy with millions of people marginalized and living in conditions similar to the poorest people on earth. The Palestinian people won't just go away, no matter how much Israel wants them to. That is the elephant in the room.

  203. @Sharon Is Israel doing anything to help the Palestinians establish good leaders? Huh? This is a job for the Israelis? Huh?

  204. Interesting perspective. The Israelis lob missiles into Gaza and the Palestinians respond by becoming walking bombs. It's an old plot. Who will rewrite it?

  205. In the 1970’s at a pro-Israel summer camp we used to sing a beautiful song by the great writer Debbie Friedman, though the title and theme I’m guessing came from liturgy: “Not by Might, and Not by Power—but through spirit alone, shall we all live in peace.” Almost 50 years later and Israeli’s and Palestinians are farther from that dream, perhaps, than they ever have been. On the other hand, and it is the hand of hope and optimism, there are millions of Palestinians, Israelis, Jews and Arabs, and people of cultures all over the world who deeply yearn to step beyond the reality of mutually asssured violence, of the cycle of fear and repression, of the narrative of “who is the real victim here? Who is the real oppressor here?” It is difficult to see—given the neighorhood, the Sunni/Shia centuries old holy war, the oil wars, the geopolitical struggles being played out in Syria and Iran, the constant threat of political assassination....—how such stepping beyond can come about.... But then: Pete Seeger’s “It’s always darkest before the dawn”. While I don’t exactly feel hope, I feel the hope of hope. Sorta like when you plant a seed in the ground and until it sprouts you don’t even know if there is any reason at all to have hope. We need to listen more to the Israeli and Palestinian families who have both lost loved ones in political terror, and yet have become friends and activists in planting those seeds amidst darkness, and hoping for hope, against all odds.

  206. OUR DAUGHTER WAS LIVING IN JERUSALEM During the time of the terror attacks. Twice she called us to reassure us that she was fine, but that two buses were blown up on the Jaffa Road, about 1/4 mile from her apartment. Terrified, we told her to come home immediately. She said, How can I leave my friends? Soon after, she came home for another reason, which is another story. What I find incomprehensible is why Israel refuses to defend itself by using the media to show scenes of the slaughter. Why does Israel not defend itself against the massive criticism and attacks? I don't buy the excuse that people don't want to talk about it. So let the minister of defense or the spokesperson for the government defend itself. That said, it is a terrible dilemma, the question being whether showing evidence of the bombings and terror will trigger copycat attacks? It's a valid question, as we here in the US have seen the spread of domestic terror based on copycat crimes. Some of the murderers quote Trump, while some quote the manifestos posted by mass murderers. So our society is not immune from mass murders nor from copycat mass murders. Except here in the US, the enemy is the NRA and those politicians that enable the NRA. But that is changing, since the NRA faces allegations of accepting political donations from foreigners, which is prohibited in the US. Also the NRA faces probes of its finances which are believed to be illegal as well. Meanwhile, Israel needs to seek peace NOW!

  207. From VOX "the overwhelming majority of the deaths are Palestinian, and have been for the almost 14 years since B'Tselem began tracking. Overall, the group has recorded 8,166 conflict-related deaths, of which 7,065 are Palestinian and 1,101 Israeli. That means 87 percent of deaths have been Palestinian and only 13 percent Israeli. Put another way, for every 15 people killed in the conflict, 13 are Palestinian and two are Israeli." You seem to only acknowledge 13% of the pain caused in this never ending conflict.

  208. Suicide Bombings to me are the modern equivalent of "making your children walk through fire." It is wrong on so many levels. First, those who glorify it by celebrating it. And worst of all, the leaders who financially reward the parents who encouraged their children to slaughter themselves and as many innocent souls as possible. I am a Christian, and a progressive Democrat. And I understand to the depths of my soul there can be no peace, and certainly not peaceful coexistence, with people who see this practice as any way justified. And to this makes me sad.

  209. Two points that are being conflated here:Palestinians would destroy Israel if they could. Walls to keep threats out are not the same as walls to keep citizens from leaving.

  210. @Lane It's a simple step to reverse the hinges on the gates. cf East Germany.

  211. So, what's the answer except perpetual war? Is that what Israelis want? Is that what Palestinians want? I certainly don't know the answer. But what I do know is that Netanyahu put his foot in the door of our 2016 elections with clear support for Trump and Republicans. Elections have consequences, and one consequence is that I can no longer trust the Israeli government or people. Right-wing hate is detestable regardless if it is from Palestinians or Israelis or the Republican Party.

  212. Israel desperately needs an about face. It is on a dark path of self-destruction when it conducts actions condemned by international law and blatantly ignores basic human rights.

  213. This article is utterly depressing. It highlights the tit for tat nature of the Arab - Israeli conflict, and the fact that in a search for security Israel is destroying its own democracy. History has proven that repressing a people's legitimate rights cannot succeed for ever, especially in a society which wants to remain democratic. The longer Israel tries to contain legitimate Palestinian aspirations by adopting harsher and harsher repressive measures the more dangerous it will be for itself, the Palestinian people, and the region as a whole.

  214. Nobody is innocent in this 'mutualicide', except for those fighting for true mutual peace. Irony that “May God avenge their blood” attitude, God is powerless - or more likely is on neither side. One side prevails merely because it has unlimited unaccountable source of wealth and weapons from distant ignorant tax payers and the others don't. Mr. Friedman seems to imply that the dastardly suicide bombings against innocent Israelis emerged in a vacuum, that history started at that point for no reason at all. He should take the same tour and reminisce through Palestinian eyes, who where forcefully displaced from those same places - with generations of memories from homes terrifyingly lost to a peoples of a different faith claiming supremacy over them. The flip-side has 1000s of dead Palestinians, demolished homes, land and human rights lost. "No single episode has shaped" Palestine's population and politics like the loss of their entire nation to mostly outsiders, military subjugation and humiliation for the foreseeable future until they're wiped from existence. Before the bombings "any sympathy that the [Palestinian] majority had toward [Israelis] evaporated" after being forcefully displaced from their land of generations. What did Israelis expect? Native populations being displaced by outside settlers tend to push-back! Like Native Americans did. That's an aspect insiders in Israel "sometimes struggle to understand." Indeed it is something no Israeli wants to discuss either

  215. As a black New Yorker and non-Jewish person, I appreciate this nuanced insight into Israeli politics and consciousness. It has been hard for me to witness the ongoing tension from afar without being preoccupied by a now long-standing and global theme: the oppression of poor brown people by those with more money and power. But I saw the towers fall on 9/11 from a taxi stuck on a bridge over the Harlem River, I witnessed the national suffering transform into rage, and I benefited from the subsequent decades-long wars so far as they prevented other terrorist attacks on the US by foreign nationals. But, still, I can’t not see the poor brown people who continue to pay the price for America’s trauma. The people of Afghanistan are not the Taliban, but we make them suffer as if they are. Is there space in Israeli consciousness to recognize that the people of Palestine are not Hezbollah? Can we—not just as Americans or Israelis, but as human beings sharing the same global home—find space both to grieve our trauma, defend our citizens, and also have compassion for those innocents who suffer from our fire and brimstone?

  216. Who would ever guess, reading this column, that the country described as the victim here has engaged in a brutal fifty year military occupation, responsible for untold violent civilian deaths? Or that the likes of Menachem Begin began life as a terrorist, and never regretted it?

  217. The only time I was in Israel was July, 1964. Obviously before the 1967 War. While I was on a tourist boat sailing under the Golan Height Syrian soldiers would fire over the boat just for fun. Therefore: If I was PM I would never give up the Golan Heights. You always want the high ground. Just ask RE Lee and Pickett. Jerusalem was divided. I stayed at the King David Hotel. We would see Jordanian soldiers from our window. Occasionally he would aim his rifle at the the hotel. I would keep Jerusalem as one city if I was PM. After Arafat turned down the deal in 199? it became obvious that The Arabs really don't want a peace deal. Both intifadas were just a reflection of this. There are plenty of faults on the Israeli side. I imagine that a new PM would be just as adamant at not allowing the violence of the past.

  218. The terrorists who responded to entreaties of peace with terror got exactly what they wanted. The possible advance towards peaceful coexistence was completely halted. They have a fundamental belief that democracy and rapprochement cannot withstand the fear created by the threat of terror. Perhaps the truth depends on the character of both Israelis and Palestinians. Mr Netanyahu needs Palestinian extremists to stay in power and Palestinian extremists need Mr Netanyahu to stay in power. It is a morbid dance of passions.

  219. It is amazing how many times both sides can actually reach peace. Wait till all the secret signed documents are finally revealed. Most Israelis are not extremists. Netanyahu is an extremist. Usually before an election a fake attack is launched to sway the election. Fear is brought to an extreme. It would be great if a two state solution highlighted by President Carter was discussed . Now It is hard to believe that Israel trusts Trump. If there is not a two state solution will Palestinians ever have the right to vote in a one state solution. 2017 has passed and the fifty year hidden agreement has is time for peace with both sides respecting each other.

  220. Unfortunately, a persuasive--and disturbing-- take on current politics in Israel. But go back a little further than 2001: to 1970. Israel was in the midst of searching its soul regarding "the territories," the land captured during the '67 war. Many Israelis decried attempts to annex the West Bank, or to develop any policy other than to seek a real peace treaty whereby land would be exchanged for peace. We can debate all we like about whether Palestinians were ever serious about peace. But we can also debate about whether Israel was, too. (Re-read Benny Morris, for the umpteenth time.) 2001 is an outgrowth of the Original Sin in this region: Is Zionism about genuine democracy or about creating an ethno-religious Jewish State capable of doing whatever it needed to do to survive, and, will the Arab and Islamic worlds create a secular, open version of their societies or remain captive to authoritarian regimes intent on exploiting Arabs and abusing Islamic religion and culture? 2001 may mark a turning point away from thinking about peace, and toward accepting force as the only way forward. But it was not the first such point, or even the most important.

  221. I'm writing to quarrel with Mr. Friedman's phrase, "The attacks picked up in the mid-1990s, as Israel pursued a peace deal and ceded land ..." Whatever Palestinian terrorist bombers did in the period of what he calls "the situation" -- and they did a lot, and it certainly raised the hackles of most Israelis and contributed greatly to the endless peace-stalemate and Occupation -- it's simply misleading to characterize the mid-'90s as a period in which "Israel pursued a peace deal and ceded land." After the Oslo accords there were attempts to craft further deals, and some land did get ceded to Arafat's "Palestinian Authority." But the underlying reality of that time was that the settlements (and the Jewish population of the West Bank) continued to grow, thereby making a realistic, unifiable Palestinian state all but impossible. And the Palestinians, who are not stupid, understood all too well that these quiet Israeli actions spoke louder than ongoing "peace talks" and rather minor land cessions to the PA which mainly served to put Palestinian rather than Israeli police in charge of controlling Palestinian hotheads.

  222. @LarryHastings You forgot about the Camp David peace talks, that Arafat attended, and in the end refused to sign, would not come up with some counteroffers to consider, but stormed off, angry. That brought on the 2nd intifada. Just like the Taliban cannot give up on ruling Afghanistan solely, the Palestinian leadership, long unelected and largely detested by the people, still wants to replace the Jewish state, and mostly rid themselves of the millions of Jews. In the meantime, many of the people settle for Jews killed or maimed, and this isn't repressed.

  223. As an American and a Jew I fully support Israel's right to security. What I find objectionable is the Israeli adversarial approach to diplomacy as well as the burgeoning racism and anti-democratic actions of the Netanyahu administration which suppress most efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict.

  224. @Howard I think what Matti Friedman is trying to teach us here is that Israelis who lived through a certain period of time live a real fear that was the result of a clear and present danger in the early 2000s. That danger has largely been eliminated. It may have been replaced with other dangers. It may have come along with other policies that have many find objectionable. But fear is a powerful motivator and Netanyahu is largely been associated with a reduction in that fear. It is hard to fully empathize with someone else's fear when it is different from your own. But we should stop for a minute and look at the survey data of how many Americans feel "unsafe" today and note that the dangers in Israel were (and to some degree still are) much greater.

  225. So what is the message here? That there is no real alternative to some form of Benjamin Netanyahu? But what does that mean for an American who vaguely accepts but doesn't comprehend the enormous complexity of the notion that Israel comes first--always ahead of the Palestinians, of course. What does it mean for the same American who doesn't also comprehend that this enormously expensive "alliance" massively forecloses our country's diplomatic and historical freedom to conduct our history with other nations besides Israel in the Middle East and Southwest Asia? Beyond that, nobody with a shred of humanity wants anybody--Israeli or otherwise--to live in terror, but the Israelis aren't the only human beings involved in this conflict, and the Second Intifada isn't the only decisive episode in this maddening and ramified conflict. No American who wishes to comprehend the whole truth as it bears on our country's own needs can forget that. Naturally, of course, partisan columnists and cowardly U.S. politicians are perfectly happy with our ignorance and oblivion, but nobody can be forever oblivious of vital things. Whatever else anybody thinks about this Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is, in fact, a vital demand on this nation's policies--and the humanity of all the people involved.

  226. After all you did to them, they fought back. That explains why you must now do so much more to them. You see your own pain, and no other pain before, and so excuse others' pain after. That path leads to only one place, and it is a disaster. This isn't peace. This isn't security. It is only a pause.

  227. @Mark Thomason Yes. And within this pause, my belief and activism is centered on opening increasing space for those Israeli and those Palestinians who deeply and sincerely desire to embrace each other’s humanity and transcend imminent disaster. There are thousands. Maybe even millions. There is very little space for this in Palestinian Territories—and none of course in Gaza. This is difficult.

  228. @Michael -- That is the only hope. Sooner or later, before or after far worse suffering, it will have to be done.

  229. How many wars has Israel been a part of since Netanyahu Has held power in Israel? What, are we up to 4 now? Why Israel still continues to call him the “security“ pm And how he can actually run on that slogan is mind-boggling to me. Their eyes are closed to reality. Israel is not safe at all. And we don’t know if it’s safe to say that it is safer regardless.

  230. A well written piece, without defending Netanyahu or the policies themselves, it explains well why people who otherwise might be repelled by what is going on to support Netanyahu. It brings up a historical truth, that those who perpetuate violence figuring it is going to get them what they want because the other side will become afraid simply doesn't work, if anything that kind of violence tends to harden people in their fear, not paralyze them. The Blitz in WWII was supposed to paralyze the British, it did the opposite. 9/11 was supposed to somehow scare the US into doing whatever the people who did it wanted, it did the opposite. Like with Israel today, post 9/11 people in the US supported the Iraq war and supported policies they otherwise wouldn't of, because of fear. And fear doesn't just affect one group of people, there were a lot of people who should have known better who blindly supported the Iraq war because of that same fear. Fear is a strong emotion and one that influences things without even being aware of the real cause. The Israeli's who support Netanyahu, will vote for him, will rationalize it on other grounds the way many Trump supporters rationalize their support for him; the Israelis will say they don't like Netanyahu's behavior and corruption but vote for him for other reasons without mentioning fear; Trump supporters will say they voted based on economics while expressing distaste for his behavior, but won't acknowledge his anger and hate motivate them

  231. The memories of war don’t last forever, and in the end people recognize that things have changed. In 1940 and 1941, the German bombing of England killed tens of thousands of people. Yet by 1975, Basil Fawlty’s attitude towards his German hotel guests at Fawlty Towers was seen as ridiculously funny (though not entirely wrong). Of course, it helps to have been on the winning side, and for Israel this has yet to be assured. Cozying up to Donald the Clueless and his “fine people” might not be a winning strategy. Doubling down on Netanyahu might not be either. A government that recklessly throws away its allegiances is seldom the winner in a long war. But who can say? People forget, or gain perspective, and this can heal as well as hurt.

  232. This well-presented article does much to explain the Israeli mentality toward security. It also explains why Israeli politics have been apparently so one-sided in the last decade. While Israel has been shoring up its security on its borders and within its cities, it has continued to develop economically technically and has continued to help out around the world when there are has continued to innovate in healthcare, etc. It has reached out in the recent past to help the former residents of Jordan and Eqypt who desired statehood only to be rebuffed and become targets for hatred. Much of the world community continues to vilify the country. It is perhaps unfortunate that the so-called "left" in Israel has become so weak and that their does not seem to be much of a so-called "center." Where are the Israeli leaders who have solutions that will appeal to the Israeli public so as to provide an alternative to Netanyahu? Perhaps circumstances surrounding Israel must change so that Israel exists in a neighborhood and world that is more conducive to a change in their politics that will help bring about a change in their leadership.

  233. @Norm Budman Norm with all due respect Israel is the reason Egypt was denied a chance at democracy after duly electing their first president. We staged a coup, murdered or imprisoned the newly elected officials and inserted the new Mubarak, our and Israels puppet El Sisi.

  234. @Ted I was referring to the former Egyptian citizens currently in Gaza who, at one time, apparently wished to be part of a Palestinian State. When they had a chance, they decided to "elect" Hamas and we know how that is turning out.

  235. @Norm Budman @Norm Budman Seems like you want to deny that Palestinian Arabs were inhabitants of Palestine for centuries -- and not "former residents of Jordan and Egypt." The 1878 Ottoman census in Jerusalem, Nablus, and Acre districts (largest population centers) registered 403,789 Muslim Arabs, and 43,659 Christian Arabs, for a total of 447,448 Palestinian Arabs, and 15,011 Jews. The British Mandate 1922 census listed 569,177 Palestinian Arabs, 83,790 Jews; Jews owned 3% of the land. By 1947, Jewish population had increased, but they still owned just 6% of the land. The vast majority of factories, banks, import-export businesses, orchards, etc. were in Palestinian hands. Independence was one of the biggest land bonanzas in history as Arab Palestinians were driven out and their land and businesses seized. It's sad that a decade without suicide bombings has not altered the political situation for Palestinians, who also have worked to suppress them. When we talk about terror and bombings, I think we have to include unleashing the military might of Israel against civilians in Gaza, regularly "mowing the lawn" with thousands killed, thousands more injured and 10,000 homes demolished at a clip.

  236. I remember the time, too. I was living in Israel (as I do now), but at that time only my daughter was in Jerusalem, studying. It certainly was a scary time, and I think there is always fear. But it doesn’t justify increasing Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Being occupiers does a lot of damage of another sort - to the moral fiber of the people of Israel. It is clear that there are no easy solutions. But pretending that you can maintain the status quo indefinitely is not the solution, for sure.

  237. As a retired psychoanalytically oriented therapist I wouldn't call this repressed memory except when someone actually experienced a horrific trauma or loss. Repression is a psychological defense mechanism that keeps certain memories, thoughts, feelings, or urges out of conscious awareness in order to prevent or minimize feelings of sometimes overwhelming anxiety. It is generally true that the deeper something is repressed, denied, or avoided psychologically the more power it exerts. What I think is happening in Israel among many people is more like denial or avoidance as defense mechanisms. This is still it is a good way to look at the subject.

  238. @Hal Brown, MSW I think your well-intended comment misses the point: Israel is a small country. Almost everyone has experienced a horrific trauma or loss directly. I felt this myself on one of my many visits and I happened to walk by a remote home before sunrise where a 13 year old Israeli girl was knifed in her bed, and murdered, a few hours later. As if that proximity to violence was not traumatic enough, turned out the victim l was my sister’s best friend’s daughter’s best friend.

  239. @Hal Brown, MSW I know nothing about psychoanalysis but wonder if perhaps this still may qualify as "repressed memory." Remember the size of Israel in terms of population and geography. The experiences in Israel 10-20 years ago were not like the school shootings we've seen in the US where most of us are highly unlikely to know a victim and many of us never heard of the towns prior to the news coverage. The attacks in Israel occurred in places that were known to everyone and about 1 in 5 Israelis know a terror victim. This intimacy might bring the typical Israeli closer to having "experienced a horrific trauma or loss."

  240. A UN resolution established the nation of Israel. Under the UN resolution, Israel was given a certain amount of land with precise borders. Since Israel is a legally created state and derives its right to exist from this resolution it is also legally obliged to follow the law with respect to its boundaries. Whether it was attacked and whether it conquered more land because of war is immaterial. No other country in the world has been allowed to enlarge its borders by war since WWII (with the exception of the recent annexation of Crimea by Russian, even though for 100's of years Crimea was part of Russia). Israel through its settlements has absorbed a large amount of land that the UN resolution gave to the Palestinians and it otherwise occupies the rest of that land as a conquering power. The response to that occupation is what the occupied have done frequently in human history, that is, fight back by killing the occupiers by any available means. It is the price of occupation. Peace will only come when Israel makes an arrangement with the Palestinians which equitably returns land for land, and otherwise stops occupying the land the UN resolution set aside for a Palestinian state. Peace would be easy to achieve if the Israelis did what the UN resolution requires them to do, but they do not want to that because they would have to give up their desire to include all the land from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean as part of their nation.

  241. @HipOath Thats not how the UN resolutions worked. The partition plan was voted on but never implemented. Essentially the partition plan has no bearing on current events.

  242. You seem to have missed entirely the Arab attacks on Israel that led to that expansion. What other nation has prevailed since '45 against the kind of existential threat Israel has experienced?

  243. @HipOath The UN didn't "create" Israel, but when Israel unilaterally declared independence it cited the partition plan of UN Res. 181 Part II in voluntarily naming those parameters as its borders. This gave the Jewish immigrant minority a majority of the land - an injustice in pretty much anyone's eyes. The borders of the new state did not (and do not) include Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank, Syrian Golan Heights or Sheba Farms -- all land that a perpetually warring Israel has seized and still controls at the point of a gun. Peace will never come as long as Israel considers land more important than a just peace. Meanwhile, in a very peculiar situation for a Western-style nation, the State of Israel owns 96% of the land within the Green Line. It is entirely responsible for the shape of development -- 80% of Israelis live on just 20% of Israel's land while untold millions of shekels are spent on settlements on West Bank land they do not own. Some of that land is desert, you say? Too bad. Develop innovative housing, infrastructure and cities there and Israel would not only have someplace to relocate settlers out of the West Bank but a lucrative industry in selling the new tech to other desert nations. Win-win.

  244. Neither walls nor checkpoints nor campaign ads are able to stop incoming missiles.

  245. Friedman should reminisce from the Palestinians view point too, that precipitated the mess everyone is in now. Neither side can claim any moral superiority over the other nor be surprised by the reaction and counter-reaction as the inhumanity on both sides escalate. "Israel pursued a peace deal and ceded land." Land it originally took, by force, while simultaneously continuing to take land elsewhere for settlements. What kind of deal is that? No different than what we did to Native Americans who valiantly fought back as best they could. Israelis seem to "pretend" to forget how their nation came into being - by violently displacing an entire population that they continue to actively and violently displace to this day and for the foreseeable future. And they are surprised by the reaction? Should Palestinians simply allow themselves to be run over without a fight? Unfortunately the Palestinians lost moral support by shedding innocent blood. Ditto for the Israelis. “May God avenge their blood” As they say about never-ending vengeance and digging two graves - Israel and Palestine are opting for a two grave solution. Sad.

  246. @PAN Maybe. But that's another topic. This piece is an attempt to frame the mindset of the Israeli electorate in the run up to an election. In Matti Friedman's view, that mindset is largely driven by a fear that developed in reaction to a certain series of events during a certain period of time. To "reminisce from the Palestinians view point" is a valuable exercise but it will tell us less about what Israelis may be thinking as they go to the polls. (Note, Matti Friedman has other works where he goes to great lengths in order to evaluate other points of view. I recommend reading his other work)

  247. @SJG Agreed. But it is a mistake to not consider the other side's point of view - indeed the causes of their motivations for the tragic and atrocious reactions that merely cause equal and worse reactions form the other side. Not that Gandhi's example would have done the Palestinians any good either. Indeed, the majority of Israelis and Palestinians are caught between and victimized by the extremists in their midst. I'll seek out Friedman's other works as you suggest.

  248. @PAN 'Pumking Flowers.' Short. Short chapters. Beautifully but painfully written. An attempt to make sense of senseless war.

  249. Lived in Ramallah from 2000 through 2003 while working on human rights issues. While I was living in Ramallah, I was in Jerusalem frequently. I witnessed a suicide bombing, was close to a car bomb, and was around multiple scares. I also witnessed the killing of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah in 2000. However, because I was in the West Bank I witnessed the other half of the story which isn’t told in this piece. I witnessed Palestinians shot in the street. I witnessed F-16s and Apache Helicopters bombing near my home. I witnessed tanks in front of my house. I witnessed assassinations. I was marched through my house by Israeli soldiers with a gun against my head. I was kept under curfew for 9 months of 2000 and for over a month that curfew was enforced by snipers who would shoot you if you left your home. I was in Jenin refugee camp just after the military pulled out. I witnessed the institution of strict movement restrictions. I witnessed systematic human rights abuses. Perhaps a key reason Israelis don’t talk about this period is that it can’t be discussed in a way that segments violences. Recalling violence in Jerusalem requires recalling the overall situation and that in turn requires looking at reality in the West Bank and Gaza today. That is a reality completely missing from this retelling.

  250. If we’re talking about the “overall situation”, let’s keep in mind that those suicide bombings were truly suicidal for the entire Palestinian people. There is no other choice that would have harmed their life and hopes more than this terrorist campaign. Have any of the evils you mentioned been fixed by murdering Israeli civilians ?

  251. Correction, curfew was 2002

  252. @Gimme A. Break. Before there were bombings, Palestinians’ rights were denied. Over a decade after the last bombing, Palestinians’ rights are systematically abused. The rash of bombing them was horrific, but they are not the story.

  253. A very powerful opinion piece which opened my eyes. Thank you for this.

  254. I remember as if it were yesterday when my young niece was going to get on a bus, but then forgot something and returned home. The bus she didn't get on was the first bus suicide bombing in Israel. We were all shattered, yet grateful that she didn't get on that bus. However, it haunts us until this day that if she had she would not be the beautiful adult she is today with three adorable children.

  255. @Anais We should all mourn innocent Palestinian children who never had a chance to grow up either, as a result of being slaughtered in their homes and schools in Gaza and West Bank too.

  256. @Anais Your story must resonate with the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans who were spared in such circumstances by not attending school on a certain day, or not being at a concert, a restaurant, a nightclub, or going to Walmart on a quiet weekend... Terrorism takes many forms, and we're not always attacked by "enemies" with bombs - sometimes, it's the kid next door with an AK-47 who mows down dozens of people in a single moment. Where is our "savior"?

  257. @PAN. “Slaughtered”? Perhaps the Arabs should have agreed to the UN's suggested partition plan in 1947. After all, the Arabs already controlled 99.8% of the lands of the former Ottoman Empire and had successfully prevented every other indigenous group from exercising their rights to self-determination - safely maintaining them in their "historical" second class status. But as the Arabs wanted 100% of their former imperial conquests in the region returned to them, they wound up overreaching with the consequences we see now.

  258. Now imagine 52 years of this, sometimes significantly less brutal, sometimes brutally close.

  259. If the writer's opinion is correct, repressed fear is persuading Israeli voters to enable, inadvertently, Netanyahu to create even more danger for them by systematically allowing settlers to take over more land in the West Bank and Israeli businesses to produce goods there on property the Palestinians see is theirs. I don't think that most Israelis think that such absorption is good for them. I guess fear can lead to blindness.

  260. I have been in Israel several times. Both before and after one of those intense but contained explosions of violence that the Israelis, Palestinians as well as the rest of the world have become so used to. Once I was visiting in the south and was surprised seeing a multitude of children hiking in the desert at a time they would normally be in class. I was simply told that this was a "war day". So, going on a day trip was safer while jet planes roared toward Gaza for some retaliatory strike. This was all so eerily "normal." And in fact, even in one of these tense days, walking around Israel did not seem more dangerous than walking on any street in Chicago. The weather was good. Life was great. For most Israelis at least. The sense is that there is no urgency to change the status quo on the Israeli side. Things are likely different on the Palestinian side. People in Gaza are prisoners under an open sky. They die at each IDF strike. They would be the ultimate beneficiaries of peace. But they are in the hands of a small group that thrives out of their suffering. It is like the power of the mafia gangs in southern Italy. In Israel it is called Hamas. Clearly, the powerful on both sides are fine with the status quo. The powerless are just that, powerless. And the rest of the world knows that they can't do anything without some sign from those that live his perpetual war in that beautiful land. I don't know why but crazy as it sounds I still hope that things will change.

  261. The apparent safety in Israel is because its leaders take the safety of each individual seriously and take steps to protect them. Unlike their Arab enemies who purposely launch missiles from hospitals, schools and residential areas to put the poor residents in danger to shield the terrorists.

  262. @Sydney Kaye. That is part of the explanation. But one should also consider other factors, such as the imbalance in armaments and the extent of territory. The children of Gaza could not be taken to a safe war day hike when violence erupts.

  263. What's more, is how the situation spotlighted the isolation and abandonment Israelis felt from the entire world, from the lack of tourists, lack of validation in the world press, lack of outrage, etc. So now when other Americans criticize Israeli policies, I realize they know they have to chart their own path and do what they think is necessary. There is no press about the suicide bombings that don't occur because of the security barrier. There is no press about rockets from the territories because there aren't any unlike Gaza and, still, Lebanon (where Israel long ago withdrew.)

  264. Nothing in this article justifies the continual shooting of Palestinian children now common in the current culture of the Israeli army under Bibi, nor the tearing down of legal Palestinian homes and farms to provide illegal settlements. Continuing the violence simply perpetuates the violence! In any civil war (and it is always a civil war when neighbors fight) memory must be preserved but then genuine respect, civility and compassion are the vitally necessary response. Bibi is simply a vicious tyrant.

  265. @Annie Smart Palestinian "children" are not routinely shot by the Israeli army. Violent rioters may well be shot, as would likely happen anywhere. Legal Palestinian homes are not torn down. Legal Palestinian homes are, in fact, defended by the Israeli legal system. Unfortunately building a home without regard to legal structures, such as zoning regulations and the like, does not render the home legal. You may not like Bibi. I certainly don't like Bibi. That's not the point of this editorial...which is to explain why, despite your dislike from your comfortable abode in Berkeley, you (surprise surprise!) don't actually speak for Israelis.

  266. I was there. A few hundred meters from Café Moment when the attack took place. Mr Friedman is spot on.

  267. Remember this? “In July 2006, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center organized a conference to mark the 60th anniversary of the (1946 King David Hotel) bombing. The conference was attended by past and future Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former members of Irgun. A plaque commemorating the bombing was unveiled, stating "For reasons known only to the British, the hotel was not evacuated." The British Ambassador in Tel Aviv and the Consul-General in Jerusalem protested, saying "We do not think that it is right for an act of terrorism, which led to the loss of many lives, to be commemorated", and wrote to the Mayor of Jerusalem that such an act of terror could not be honoured, even if it was preceded by a warning. The British government also demanded the removal of the plaque, pointing out that the statement accusing the British of failing to evacuate the hotel was untrue and "did not absolve those who planted the bomb."

  268. Thank you for this. I'd strongly advocated for peace during the period described. In retrospect I feel like a fool for several reasons. The first is laid out in brutal detail by the Friedman. One can easily imagine even liberal Americans being so traumatized as to consider peace impossible if over 1,000 Americans were blown to bits (and over 10,000 more maimed) in constant terrorist bombings, and then Palestinians treating each mass murder of civilians as a wedding celebration. What the author doesn't mention is the Camp David 2000 Summit, which gave Palestinians everything they claimed to want. Arafat's "negotiation" was that he'd accept no less than 98 percent of his demands, including a fully recognized Palestinian state and return of virtually every piece of land from the 1967 war. It was deliberately meant to be totally unacceptable. It was 98 percent because Arafat was sure Ehud Barak could never agree. However, Barak did agree. Palestinian leaders said: NO. Like the suicide bombers, they never wanted a peace of any sort, or a free Palestine, unless all Israelis were killed, so they rejected their own proposal. This and the bombings caused the fall of the Israeli left as Israelis understood Palestinians were serious about nothing but murdering them and destroying Israel. There could have been, should have been, a free independent Palestine which would celebrate its 20th Anniversary next year. Sadly, Palestinians never wanted peace, just death and destruction.

  269. @Robert B It might be fairer to say that Arafat and other Palestinian leaders did not want peace. The average Palestinian does. Arafat was the greatest enemy of the Palestinian and Israeli people. Without him, we could, as you say, be celebrating a 20th anniversary. Instead, his hatred made Bill Clinton's and Barak's efforts a waste of time.

  270. You state that Israel is stuck in a very bad moment in time and therefore will never be able to trust or move forward. How exactly does this scenario play out, is it that the Israelis move further into Palestinian territory and the Palestinians living in Israel continue to be second-class citizens? The reality of this premise is that the Palestinians will outnumber the Israelis, then how could Israel remain a Jewish State?