August 6, 2002
AFTER A notably
bloody weekend in which at least 16 people were killed in Palestinian
attacks on Israeli targets -- and Israel intensified efforts to retaliate
and choke off additional violence -- revival of the all-but- abandoned
Mideast peace process is more urgent than ever. Nothing else can begin
to restore a sense of security to both Jews and Arabs, stop the steady
ruination of civilized life and preserve any remaining chance the two
peoples have to thrive side by side.
to the past few days of horror (topped by a bus bombing in northern
Israel that killed 9 and injured more than 40) were not hopeful. The
bombing was ritually denounced by the weakened Palestinian Authority.
But Israeli officials clamped tighter restrictions on Palestinians'
travel within the occupied West Bank and, on Sunday, ordered nine more
demolitions of the homes of bombers' families, members of which may
or may not have aided the bombings.
The punitive destruction
of families' dwellings for harboring terrorists is an unwelcome revival
of a practice mostly put to rest when the Palestinian uprising of 1987-93
gave way to the Oslo peace accord. One Israeli rationale for the collective
punishment is that it deters potential suicide bombers concerned for
their families' welfare. For the moment, its practical effect is to
heighten the fury and frustration of Palestinians and worsen the climate
for conciliation. Extremists plotting anti-Israel terrorism may now
conceal the identities of suicide bombers rather than publicly hail
them as "martyrs."
though he was particularly stirred by last week's bombing at Hebrew
University in Jerusalem in which the seven dead included five Americans,
has lacked vigor in giving life to his June peace proposals. He needs
to have his top envoys on the scene in Israel with concrete plans and
guarantees. The bloodletting on both sides has to stop.