Unjustifiable, but The D justifies it: In the Daily Dartmouth today, ex-Reviewer Mohamad Bydon writes a very strange column in which he makes the curious claim that �As unjustifiable as it may be, terrorism has been used as a weapon by many groups.� Well, if terrorism is indeed unjustifiable (and it is), one wonders why it matters that other groups have committed it in the past. Bydon could just as easily have written, �Sure Palestinian groups kill Jews, but so have Germans, Russians, and Spaniards, so why don�t the Palestinians get their chance, too?� The wanton killing of civilians is unjustifiable for Europeans and Africans and Arabs alike.

Bydon also writes, �Israel has maintained a military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza that is now the second longest military occupation in modern times.� Bydon should consider, as Victor Hanson wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week, �the millions of poor Germans who had their ancestral lands confiscated by Poland and France–and their country subsequently partitioned for a half century. Why do the Russians still occupy portions of the old Japanese homeland decades after the surrender? How is it that the British won’t give up Gibraltar long after their successful battles against the Spanish fleet? And why must the world give far more attention to Palestine than it does to Tibetans, Irish and Chechens?� In fact, there is nothing historically unprecedented about Israel�s presence in the West Bank. And international law, contrary to Bydon�s claim, does not prohibit a victorious power (as Israel was after it was attacked in 1967) from holding hostile territory seized during war until it can negotiate a stable peace treaty. Even UN resolutions 242 and 338 do not call the Israeli occupation illegal, and only speak to the desirability of a peaceful settlement.

And on that score, it is Arafat�s Palestinian Authority that has prevented such a peaceful resolution. Israel in fact withdrew from West Bank territories. Since the Oslo accord, 98 percent of Palestinians on the West Bank lived under the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority, not under Israeli occupation. The Camp David proposal would have given Arafat a state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital, but the Palestinians rejected it. The recent �invasion� or �reoccupation� by Israel was a response to Arafat�s failure to fulfill his previous agreements to stop violence and incitement against Israelis�and it was possible only because Israel had previously withdrawn.

What is unprecedented about the West Bank occupation is Israel�s eagerness to withdraw�and, of course, the suicide bombers. Syria currently occupies the entire state of Lebanon, where Palestinians are kept in refugee camps. But there are no suicide bombers attacking restaurants and shopping malls in Damascus. Jordan occupies 80 percent of what was once Palestine, and has massacred thousands of Palestinians in previous conflicts. But no Palestinian �martyrs� are murdering Jordanian civilians in Amman.

Israel contributes more to the UN Fund for Palestinian Refugees than all the 21 Arab countries combined, and Palestinian Arabs in Israel�contrary to Bydon�s bizarre claims�enjoy full political rights and serve in the Israeli parliament. At the same time, those 21 Arab countries along with their Muslim and other allies have used their voting power in the UN to make Israel the most censured country in that body, and refuse to admit Israel to their regional voting group�which renders Israel ineligible to serve on the Security Council. The reason for this is not occupation (the Arab states are practiced occupiers themselves) and not mistreatment of Palestinians (the Arab states have abused Palestinians far more brutally), but rejectionism of Israel and an unwillingness to live at peace with their Jewish neighbors. That is also why Palestinian leaders celebrate terrorists who kill themselves to murder Israelis. And it’s why they believe Israel should not be permitted to defend itself against terrorism.