Palestinians fear Israeli crackdowns
Israel declared yesterday a day of mourning, as people around the country donated blood and sent sympathies.
In Jerusalem, near where candles were lit last month for Israeli victims of a suicide bombing by Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, they were flickering again yesterday for the thousands of people who died in Monday's terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. Teenage girls, their voices hushed, lined up to light new ones.
Among Israelis, there is a widespread sense of sympathy and identification with the victims in the United States, and an assumption that Muslim militants are to blame.
Palestinians are already feeling the heat. They say that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is already trying to use a heightened American focus on Muslim extremism to redefine the terms of the Middle East conflict at the expense of the Palestinians.
Already yesterday, Israeli troops escalated what the government describes as an antiterrorist drive in the Palestinian city of Jenin, West Bank, leaving seven Palestinians dead, including three militants and an 8-year-old girl.
According to one Palestinian report, Jenin Refugee Camp was surrounded by 40 tanks and armored personnel carriers, making the operation one of the largest Israel has mounted in recent months.
Israeli officials say that six suicide bombings by Muslim fundamentalists have emanated from Jenin. They vow that there will now be further tough steps, which they expect to be greeted with a new and greater sense of understanding.
"The world will not be as patient as it was before with the terror attacks conducted and supported by the Palestinian Authority," said defense ministry spokesman Yarden Vatikai. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, accused Israel of "taking advantage of the international situation to escalate its war against the Palestinian territories."
In Jerusalem, Yehezkel Abuzvili set up the impromptu candle memorial outside his photo shop on Jaffa Road, where passersby stopped and exchanged expressions of horror and disbelief. "I cannot work today, I simply cannot work," he says. "Every Israeli's heart is in America right now. But this is not about America only. The terrorists have harmed every decent person. They have destroyed human values."
Ronen Harbawi, manager of a restaurant that was bombed by Hamas on Aug. 9, said "I hope this will cause everyone to wake up and say the time has come to eliminate all this terrorism. What happened there is similar to what happened here, but on a larger scale."
The government declared yesterday a national day of mourning and organized a blood drive in which nearly 1,000 units of type-O blood were donated by midday for planned shipment to the US. Sharon said the attacks were not only against America but "against our common values."
"The fight against terrorism is an international struggle of the free world against the forces of darkness that seek to destroy our liberty and our way of life," said Sharon. "I believe that together, we can defeat the forces of evil."
Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and other leaders stressed that the atrocities must have been the work of "Islamic terrorism."
Zalman Shoval, a former ambassador to the US who is close to Sharon, said the current international situation accords with the writings of US political scientist Samuel Huntington, who depicted world politics as a conflict of civilizations. The implication is that Israel is among the forces of good facing those threatening "Western civilization."
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres delivered a terse message to Arafat after the attacks, officials said. "He told Arafat that he must distinguish himself from terror, because after yesterday we are in a new era," said foreign ministry spokesman Emanuel Nahshon. "He has to decide if he is for terror or against it."
Arafat, who has been repeatedly branded a terrorist by the Sharon government, quickly condemned the attacks Tuesday. "We completely condemn this serious operation.... We were completely shocked. It's unbelievable, unbelievable," he said, sending his condolences to American leaders and citizens.
Yuval Steinitz, a legislator from Mr. Sharon's Likud party, said the atrocities should impel "the West" to focus on isolating and punishing nations he described as its enemies.
"There are several levels of responsibility: those who carry out terrorism and those who equip them, those who may even condemn terrorism while supporting it spiritually and ideologically. These countries create an atmosphere that you must kill the unbelievers, that the Western democracies, with emphasis on Israel and the United States, are the enemy and must be harmed and destroyed. These countries include a large number of Arab states - Syria, Iraq and Iran, and the Palestinian Authority," Steinitz said.
Hashem Mahameed, an Arab legislator in the Knesset, said Israeli leaders are mistaken in drawing any links between the attacks in the US and Israel's confrontation with the Palestinians.
"What is happening here is a conflict of occupier and occupied. It has nothing to do with American people or the killers and murderers who commited these crimes. It is very unfair for Shimon Peres to come to Yasser Arafat and ask him to choose between good and evil.... Dividing the world into two with a straight line - that there are bad here and good here - is a very ugly way of dividing the world.
"We do not have ugly peoples and nice peoples," he continues. "We have ugly persons."