Wednesday, January 23, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 77



Conflicts continue in Middle East

Michael Ahlf

This weekend, we had a few problematic incidents in Israel and Palestine. Of course, it's all relative thanks to the ongoing problems: Sept. 11 has
made it even more difficult for Americans to identify with Palestinian terrorist groups. Arafat has proven how impotent he is in his inability to stop
the terrorist groups from launching attacks, and then managed to look like he was betraying the trust entirely as the United States and Israel
accused him of knowing about plots to smuggle weaponry into Palestine.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian gunman shot up a bar mitzvah ceremony in Hadera, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade took responsibility. 

In response, Israel destroyed the headquarters of the Voice of Palestine radio service and took control of the city of Tulkarem to carry out the
arrests of suspected terrorists.

They're pulling out now, after the killing of four Hamas leaders, another shooting in Jerusalem and Hamas' declaration of war against Israel.

It's difficult to blame Israel for cracking down, since the United States and its allies responded to the terrorist bombings of Sept. 11 by moving to

eliminate the Taliban and Al-Qaida forces. 

Efforts to safely move Al-Qaida prisoners to our base in Cuba have been attacked for being inhumane, as have their accommodations which
are already far better than the accommodations provided for them in Afghanistan. And in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, America watched time
and again as Middle Eastern leaders would offer their condolences, then state that it was U.S. policy towards Palestine that caused the tragedy.

In short, the region's leaders were ready to blame the United States for what had happened. 

Iran? Busy hoping we don't look into its affairs and human rights practices. Saudi Arabia? The Saudi monarchy has bought plenty of cheap
legitimacy financing the schools and Islamic leaders who incite anti-U.S., sentiment and encourage youths to join movements like Al-Qaida.
Egypt? Forget it.

Before Sept. 11, our sympathies tended to lie with Israel. But now, our loyalties have shifted so that support for Israel, facing terrorist attacks and
gunmen who choose to disrupt bar mitzvahs and weddings, is assured.

Last semester, it was easier to blame the situation on Arafat for being a bad leader whom the Palestinian people couldn't trust. Now, it's not that
simple. Arafat has proven he can't be trusted, but he's not acting alone, and anything the Palestinian authorities claim to be doing to stop the
terror isn't going to happen.

As long as there are people willing to use terrorist tactics in supporting Palestine, there's no hope of the United States being truly neutral in the

It's time for those who choose to blame U.S. policy in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to realize that they are no better than terrorists themselves. 

Ahlf, a senior electrical engineering major, can be reached at

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