Response to the response to the response: I don�t want to continue this ad infinitum, but it’s a useful discussion, and I feel compelled to make a few points. Bydon repeats what he did in his column�namely, he starts by saying that terrorism is unjustifiable, and then proceeds to justify it by reference to Israel�s supposed oppression. I do not wish to revisit the issue as to whether the suicide bombers represent legitimate �resistance to occupation,� as Bydon calls it. They don�t. But his point about Israeli terrorism, while absurd, has won too much popular assent recently. The fact is, when Palestinian bombers go to Israeli restaurants to murder civilians, that is terrorism. When Israeli authorities target and arrest terrorists, and civilians are caught in the crossfire, that is tragic, but it is not terrorism. There is a reason why we have the term �collateral damage.� The United States also unintentionally killed innocent civilians in Afghanistan, but it did so in the course of a war on terror in which the US targeted criminals, not innocent civilians. Unfortunately, civilians sometimes get killed in war. But that is quite a different thing from targeting civilians directly�having no other purpose than to murder innocents. The Israeli army�s rules of engagement put soldiers at much additional risk in an effort to avoid civilian deaths, as do the Americans�. Bydon�s lauded �resistance� makes no similar distinction. And yet there is clearly a moral difference between a country acting in self-defense against terror networks and guerilla fighters setting off bombs in pizza shops.

Bydon is wrong on two other points. First, about Israeli settlements. Bydon objects that Israel is only willing to dismantle some of the Israeli towns on the West Bank; he says they are all illegal. But he forgets that Security Council Resolution 242 mentions withdrawal from �territories� not from �the territories��a distinction that was intended precisely because the resolution also acknowledges Israel�s right to exist within “secure and recognized boundaries” and therefore does not require the removal of all Israeli settlements. As to the Fourth Geneva Convention, Bydon should know the U.S. and Israeli position, which is that the convention does not apply to the West Bank and Gaza because these are territories won in a defensive war from countries (Jordan and Egypt) who had illegally occupied them by force in 1948. Which is not to say that the U.S.-Israeli position is in fact correct, only that the question is in dispute. What�s more, many of the so-called Jewish settlements, such as in Hebron, existed even under Ottoman rule; and many were established under British mandatory rule in Palestine. To be sure, when the Jordanians occupied the West Bank in 1948, many of the area�s Jewish inhabitants were displaced�but Bydon surely doesn�t think it illegal for people to return to their ancestral homes. In any case, agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority explicitly do not prohibit the settlements and reserve the issue for final status negotiations. I do not think Bydon wants to cancel these agreements.

This is, of course, beside the main point, which concerns terrorism. Bydon is also wrong to say, �Only those in the West Bank and Gaza are behaving this way.� The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, to take one example, is based in Damascus, Syria, and wages terror war against Israel�and recently assassinated Israel�s minister of tourism. And similar groups operate out of Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, and elsewhere. You certainly can�t say, after upper class Saudis plunged airliners into the World Trade Center, that the Palestinians in the West Bank are the �only� group willing to carry out suicide attacks. The problem is not Israeli occupation (or, for that matter, a lack of jobs), which in any event has not existed for most Palestinians since 1993; the problem is ideological zealotry. Arafat agreed to end incitement to violence with the Oslo Accords in 1993, but he continues to encourage and sponsor suicide bombings of Israelis.

My mention of other occupations in the region, such as Syria’s, was not intended to somehow justify Israel�s; in fact, I wrote that Israel is unique because it is the only power that has actually withdrawn from occupied areas, and the only one that actually negotiates with its enemies. The point is that if, as Bydon suggests, Palestinian refugees �are mistreated by Israel and the Arabs alike,� why don�t they direct terrorism and suicide attacks against the Arabs? Why only Israel? Maybe it has something to do with all those official Palestinian Authority maps, which depict the whole of Israel–labeled “Palestine.”