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Naomi Ragen is an American-born novelist and playwright who has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. She has published seven internationally best-selling novels, and is the author of a hit play.

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PostTue Jul 15, 2003 9:39 am     Another Parallel Universe    

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Another Parallel Universe

By Naomi Ragen
July 14, 2003

I once wrote a column at the beginning of the Intifada called “Living in a Parallel Universe.” Once again, I feel I am back in that place, a great and solid barrier separating my reality from that the rest of the world seems to inhabit.

I hear President Bush in Africa talking about the "unconditional fight against terror," even as his administration pressures Israel to release dangerous murderers from the worst terrorist organizations from Israeli jails. If Israel was a normal country with a death penalty, this would not be possible. But we aren't. We endanger the lives of our people again and again, because of some ridiculous, passe attitude that may work in California, but doesn't work here, where jails have revolving doors.

Our leaders - heads of the government, heads of the army - give our newspapers daily headlines about "the lessening of terror alerts, the collection of weapons, the reduction of incitement ", etc. etc., once again lulling the Israeli public into a sleepy sense of "all's right with the world" - exactly what they did with Oslo. We, of course, read other articles. An interview with Itamar Marcus, head of Palestinian Media Watch, who pointed out that "on the very same day this week that the Israeli media and international leaders were praising the Palestinians for erasing graffiti from some of the walls in the Palestinian Authority, there was the school graduation ceremony which was broadcast on PA television."

The high school students were singing and dancing to this song:

"With words and with a rifle we will sing. From Jerusalem to Gaza, Ramallah, Al-Bira, Haifa, Jaffa, and Ramla. There is no alternative even if they promise us the Garden of Eden. The sound of the submachine gun is heard. We will live and die only that our homeland should return to us. I am a Palestinian. My weapon is the stone and the knife."

During the first 10 weeks since Abu Mazen became prime minister and the Road Map was published, there have been a total of 304 Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks or attempted attacks, in which 50 people were murdered and 315 wounded. Moreover, the current hudna is being widely used by the terrorist organizations to resupply and rebuild their infrastructure, badly damaged by the Israeli army, who was winning the war against terror until Mr. Bush and Mr. Powell stepped in to give the terrorists a reprieve. They are recruiting suicide bombers, and building more Quasam rockets. Indeed, Israel is currently searching for a member of the Real IRA [since captured - ed.] who came into Israel as a tourist and is suspected to be in the PA territory teaching terrorists how to build bigger and better bombs.

This is no substitute for a complete war against terror. To forgive Abu Mazen his incompetency, to let out terrorists, to let them rebuild is going to cost us in blood when the inevitable moment arrives and the Palestinians come up with a demand so unreasonable that even the jellyfish Israeli government won't be able to give in (hard to imagine such a thing these days...). Israel will be blamed, even as Israelis die.

We were in this movie. We saw the ending. I'm not capable of fooling myself twice, although most of my fellow countrymen don't seem to suffer from the same problem.

I don't have any answers. But I prefer to see the truth and at least know where we are headed. May God look down on us and save us from ourselves.

Naomi Ragen is a best-selling novelist and columnist who has lived in Israel since 1971. More of her writings can be seen at

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