Lessons to be learned on the 20th anniversary of the Ramallah lynching

History teaches that wars end when one side wins and the other accepts defeat. It is a paradigm that must be repeated in our conflict. Op-ed

Nave Dromi ,

Ramallah
Ramallah
Flash90

On October 12th, twenty years ago, like most Israelis I sat transfixed by the unmistakable image of a man proudly waving his bloodstained hands to the outside world. Along with countless others, Aziz Salha had just finished butchering Vadim Norzhich (Nurzhitz) and Yosef "Yossi" Avrahami, two IDF soldiers who had accidentally entered Ramallah, and was wildly gesticulating his bloody murderous triumph to a cheering crowd.

This image is seared into the minds of all Israelis over 30 years old.

It took place only months after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had offered the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat a state of his own on almost all of the territory he claimed, half of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and plenty of other Israeli concessions.

Arafat turned away from the overly-generous offer and let loose the gates of hell on Israel through the Second Intifada.

The other-worldly and ghastly butcher of Norzhich and Avrahami confirmed many suspicions, that the lust for Israeli blood was greater than the Palestinian desire for statehood.

When foreign commentators attempt to understand why Israelis have moved consistently more hawkish in the years since, few understand the role of that image, and others, like the Passover massacre of 30 Israelis enjoying a holiday meal in a Netanya hotel in 2002, on our psyche.

We were told that Palestinians, like us, want and desire peace. The average Palestinian just wants to live under their own rule and sovereignty. If we just offered enough then there would be peace and an end to the conflict.

These are all myths that were cruelly shattered that day in the bloodstained hands of a person who could butcher a person with their own fists.

Even those who decided to make concessions in the future, like Ariel Sharon, would no longer predicate them on a belief that there is a partner for peace. Few would ever buy this again, despite Ehud Olmert’s failed attempts in 2008.

No, the bloodied hands of Aziz told us something very different to what we were led to believe during the Oslo era.

We suddenly understood the grizzly reports of the massacre in Hebron in 1929, that our enemies are capable of acts of supreme barbarity, and their hatred knows few boundaries.

They will not be cowed by concessions. Not by grandiose offers of territory and peace. Not by the relinquishment of territory. Not by bribes. Not by the freezing of settlement growth. Not by the release of terrorists like Aziz, who now receives a Palestinian Authority monthly stipend with our government’s approval.

These have all been tried and have failed.

This really leaves only one answer.

Israel must convince the Palestinians that they have lost and continuing their obsessive conflict with Israel will only be to their detriment.

We must use all of our military, diplomatic, economic and legal might to defeat the Palestinian leadership and force them to give up their over-100-year violent rejectionism of Jewish sovereignty.

History has taught us throughout its annals that wars end when one side wins and the other accepts defeat. It is a paradigm that must be repeated in our conflict, if it is not to continue for another 100 years or more, with countless more losses on both sides.

Of course, not all Palestinians would do what Aziz and hundreds of others did that day. However, there is a virulent strain of such hatred of us in their society, largely exerted from the leadership through propaganda in the education and religious systems and in the media.

You can not reason with people who delight in the shedding of your blood. The candies offered around after every deadly suicide attack, and the ongoing obsession by the PA in incentivizing the shedding of Israeli blood through its “pay for slay” program repeat this lesson in case we dare forget it.

Twenty years later, Israeli society is still scarred by the trauma of the Ramallah lynching. When we think back, we experience disgust and revulsion.

We also have developed a steely determination not to allow those events to be repeated so we constantly and consistently elect leaders who claim that they will ensure that it does not.

However, the conflict continues and shows no sign of abating because we have not ended it and entirely internalized what needs to be done.

Twenty years later, and a lot of water under the bridge later, we must do the only thing that has yet to be tried.

We must break the Palestinian will to continue fighting. We must ensure that the bloodlust ends, even through force.

Only an Israeli victory will finally put to rest the demons that were unleashed that day. Palestinian hands must be extended in surrender and not in joyous rapture at the brutal ending of a life.

The choice is ours.

Nave Dromi is an Israeli commentator and director of the Middle East Forum’s Israel Office.



top