In the last few weeks Israeli officials and journalists have been living in a world of illusion and dreams. "The Palestinians are tired of the Intifada, and now they are ready for a peace agreement. Fewer people are participating in anti-Israeli rallies in the West Bank and the Gaza strip" - this is the kind of message ordinary Israeli citizens are getting from the evening news programmes here.
There is admittedly some truth in these reports. Palestinians are really living under extreme pressure from the Israeli occupation, in addition to the economic crisis and the vile conduct of the leadership of the "Palestinian National Administration". Thus, they have every right to be tired! But the Israeli officials just forgot one detail: that tiredness and frustration can push people onto the road of terrorism.
History provides us with plenty of examples that prove this fact: in Ireland, in Europe in the 1970s and in others places where the inability of the mass movement to show a way out led to the rise of terrorist groups which seemed to offer a short cut.
But what do the Palestinians get from this terror? If some of them think that by killing people such as Filipino women working in Israel they can achieve concessions from the Israeli government they are making a big mistake. (By the way, some people have decided not use public transport now.) Or if they imagine that by killing a few pensioners and teenagers they will undermine the fighting spirit of the Israelis that is also a bad mistake. Quite the contrary. It just creates a thirst for revenge that is used by the right-wing politicians for their own ends, and against the Palestinians.
The present explosion of terrorist activity in Israel is not unique. In the middle of the 1990s, after the assassination of Israeli prime minister Rabin, nearly 100 people died during three days of ceaseless terrorist attacks. The bus stations were totally empty. People, like now, were scared to use public transport. But that solved absolutely nothing.
Admittedly, things have changed. But not in a way that will benefit the Palestinians. Then Israeli politicians talked about "martyrs for peace" and called for sacrifices and initiatives to create a "New Middle East", (especially a New Middle East market). But in the present situation the reaction of the Israeli government is very different.
The Sharon government is influenced by the example of the "brave struggle" of president Bush in the "war against terror". The Israeli prime-minister thinks that he can copy in Palestine the American military "successes" in Afghanistan. If during last ten years, the Israeli ruling class attempted to make a deal with the Arab capitalists, then today Sharon's government wants to force its will on its Arab "partners". The message of Sharon to Arafat is clear: "You must be with us, and do what we want, or are you finished."
The situation of Arafat know is not an easy one. Ever since his return to Gaza he has been trying to balance the desires of the Palestinian masses and the desires of his bosses in Washington. He seems to have adopted the old game of the Zionists in Palestine during the 1940s. Then there was the "good" official Zionist organization and the "bad" terrorists from "Lechi" and "Ezel" that attacked Arab and English targets. Now the role of the "bad guys" has been taken over by "Hamas" and "Islamic Jihad". But today that game is over and Arafat must either lead his people against the aggressors or play the role of the Palestinian Quisling to the end.
The present developments in Afghanistan and in Palestine show that for poor nations it is very difficult to resist the might of the Imperialists' military machine. There is only own way by which the Palestinians can get what they want: through unity with the exploited and oppressed in Israel.
This is not as impossible as many think. Even in the recent period we have witnessed the common struggle of Jewish and Arab people in Tel Aviv where the left activists blocked the entry to Israel's business forum. From such small beginnings, a united front of struggle can be built up that can challenge reactionary Israeli imperialism and create the conditions for a profound transformation of the whole situation. That is the only hope for the future of both Israelis and Palestinians.