Haaretz columnist Amira Hass was highly critical of the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday, accusing it of shirking its duty to educate Palestinian children on the various forms of resistance against Israel. According to Hass, rock throwing "is the core sentence in the inner syntax of Palestinians in this land." By being resigned to the occupation, she laments, the Palestinian Authority has put itself at odds with the Palestinian people. Quite an accusation.
I hold Amira Hass in high regard. She is a very courageous woman. She does not fear being in the minority. Despite constantly being criticized, she has remained true to her convictions. But her column on Wednesday was both surprising and disappointing. Not just because rock-throwing is not a solution to the Palestinian problem, but also because unlike a U.N. statehood bid or a call on Palestinian construction workers not to work at settlements, rock throwing is not a legitimate means of protest.
Hass was wrong to claim that those who are under occupation have a "birthright and a duty" to engage in rock-throwing attacks. Throwing stones is a violent act that may kill or maim. Hass believes that a distinction should be made "between civilians and those who carry arms, between children and those in uniform," but she does not provide specifics on how to differentiate those targets. This is particularly the case at night.
A moral person cannot come out with such statements and has no right criticizing the Palestinian Authority for not encouraging such actions. Such statements are also unwise. Having endured the Rabin assassination, the pro-peace camp was dealt its most crushing blow when the Second Intifada broke out, just as Israelis and Palestinians were holding their most serious talks to date. We in the pro-peace camp could never quite explain why former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's provocative tour of the Temple Mount was used by the Palestinians to justify the intifada and the violence. Should a third intifada erupt, those who will pay the price are the peaceniks on both sides (as will the actual casualties who would be directly affected by the violence).
Don’t go overboard, Amira. The two sides could eventually reach a settlement. But this vision will be realized when leaders make the decision to strike a deal, not by means of rock throwing. As U.S. President Barack Obama said, the leaders won't go there unless their people demand that they do so. Those who believe in peace have no right to preach violence. Or encourage throwing stones, for that matter.