News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


West Bank construction inconsistent with peace

It is time Israel unlearned some lessons on housing.

Long ago, Israel began bulldozing Palestinian homes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The effort served two purposes. First, it permanently removed houses and settlements from strategically sensitive areas. Second, the remaining piles of rubble were a long-term reminder of the consequences of attacking Israel.

Most of the inhabitants of the crushed homes no doubt deserved what they got and more. These were not the equivalent of U.S. evictions, however. Israel made no pretense of providing the inhabitants with due process.

Some citizens of Israel's chief ally, the United States, have been uncomfortable with this method, but it is tough not to sympathize with Israel's war against terrorism. If we dealt with their problems, we might do the same.

In advance of hoped for peace talks — pursued at great cost to Palestian leader Mahmoud Abbas — Israel's latest strategy seems a poorly timed joke.

Rather than tearing down Palestinian homes, Israel is building 3,500 houses for Israelis in the contested West Bank. By all appearances, the construction is a way of protecting Israeli territory in expected future negotiations.

This is the type of action that strains relationships between Israel and the United States. It is also the type of action that makes it almost impossible for moderate Abbas to control his militant constituents.

On Nov. 9, 1938, Nazis destroyed synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses all through Germany. They did not use bulldozers, but the results were the same. Called Kristallnacht, it was a bloody night that correctly convinced Jews that a new and violent Germany didn't want their obedience but their deaths.

Nazi hatred was triggered not by what any one Jewish victim had done, but by a genocidal impulse in which German insecurities were anointed with blood.

Israel is a strong and courageous nation. Unlike the Nazis, Israelis do seek peace.

It is time to quit using housing as a weapon and to pour a foundation of peace.

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