To have an opinion is one thing; to have an educated opinion is quite another.
Mr. Ronquillo, although very opinionated about the Arab-Israeli conflict, seems to know nothing about it. Or if he does have some knowledge of it, he purposely distorted and corrupted the facts, which is even more shameful. In his column in last Thursday’s opinion section, Ronquillo displayed such contempt for Israel that it is hard to decide where to begin to respond.
Let me begin with the 1967 Six-Day War, which Ronquillo, in his infinite wisdom, describes as a war “initiated by Israel onto both Egypt and Syria.” To give you a short summary of the events leading up to the Six-Day War, Egypt kicked out the United Nations Emergency Force that was stationed in the Sinai Desert to keep the peace after the 1956 war.
Egypt replaced the peacekeeping force with its own version of peacekeepers: 80,000 Egyptian soldiers, 550 tanks and 1000 guns. Shortly following the removal of UNEF, Egyptian forces proceeded to close the Tiran Straits with the express orders to shoot at any and all Israeli ships that try to pass through the Straits. This action was followed by a military buildup by Syria and Jordan at their borders with Israel and effectively left Israel with two choices: get pushed into the sea, as the Arabs have been promising to do since 1948, or fight back with every ounce of strength it had and protect the lives of 3 million Israelis. It chose the latter.
Although Ronquillo’s argument is full of inaccuracies, he does correctly state one thing in his article: Israel’s attitude towards its neighbors can’t always be said to be “retaliatory.” The definition of retaliation is “to return like for like.”
In case Ronquillo doesn’t follow the news, a suicide bomber walked into a restaurant in Haifa and blew up 19 innocent Israelis including three generations of two entire families. Not an uncommon phenomenon in Israel, unfortunately. But Ronquillo mentions none of this in his article. He only mentions the strike in Syria, which was in response to this bombing. The strike, by the way, blew up a terrorist training camp which was empty, killed no one and harmed no Syrians. Hardly “like for like.”
Digging further into Ronquillo’s article (which he so graciously revised so as to have it sound “more consistent with the facts”) I discovered an interesting fact of my own.
U.N. Resolution 181, which Ronquillo claims has nothing to do with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is in fact at the heart and soul of that conflict. Otherwise known as the “Partition Plan,” Resolution 181 refers solely to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and had absolutely nothing to do with the Republic of South Africa and Apartheid, as Ronquillo suggests. Resolution 181 states that the British Mandate will end no later than Aug. 1, 1948 and that separate Jewish and Arab nations will be created in its stead, while Jerusalem would be controlled by an international regime.
On a final, and more personal note, Ronquillo’s legitimization of the terrorist groups that continue to attack Israel and kill innocent civilians on a weekly basis is one of the most horrific things I have ever read in a publication outside the Arab world.
Terror against the Jews started well before the Jewish state even came into existence. One of the best known Arab massacres against Jews occurred in 1929, when scores of Jewish men, women and children were brutally massacred in their homes in Hebron by local Arabs. At that time there was no Irgun, no Lehi, no army and no Israel.
The Arabs’ terrorist activities have continued to this day with organizations such as the Jihad-Islam, Hezbollah, and Al-Aqsa Brigade to name a few. The notions of legitimacy that Ronquillo attached to these groups do not mask the truth: These organizations slaughter civilians deliberately, without a tinge of remorse, for political gain.
Unlike the Israeli army, which targets terrorist installations and does its utmost to prevent civilian casualties, these groups do their utmost to maximize civilian casualties. To say that the PLO is not a terrorist regime is preposterous. Just in the past two years, the PLO has been caught red-handed smuggling rocket launchers and automatic weapons into the territories for use by terrorist organizations. Arafat, the head of the PLO, is a terrorist and any pseudogovernment under his control will likewise be a terrorist regime.
No amount of concessions on the side of the Israelis will change that.
Arie Peled is a freshman political science major.