Paying for the Bullet
November 28, 2002

by Joe Sobran

     I have nothing against Arabs, but a lot of them seem 
to hate me. Not as an individual, but just as an 
American. I think I understand why.

     An eight-year-old Arab boy was shot the other day. 
He died at the hospital. I paid for the bullet that 
killed him.

     It happened in Nablus, on the West Bank, the 
territory claimed and occupied by Israel. Some 
schoolchildren threw stones at a jeep driven by Israeli 
soldiers, who opened fire.

     The boy was hit in the chest. One witness said he 
wasn't among those throwing stones and was about a 
hundred yards from the jeep. The Israelis say the kids 
were throwing unspecified "explosive devices." So the 
eight-year-old was killed in self-defense.

     Maybe this was a horrible accident. But I don't 
think so. These "accidents" happen too often. The 
Israelis have shot more than a few children. It's getting 
to be a habit. It no longer shocks.

     And Americans like me pay for the bullets. The Arabs 
know this. That's why some of them dislike Americans. All 
I can say is that I regret it and I wish I had a choice. 
A mere taxpayer has no choice.

     Maybe the Arabs think that even taxpayers should 
consult their consciences -- or at least their interests. 
But few Americans are disturbed by these killings. They 
make no connections. When Arabs retaliate against 
American targets, Americans say, "Why do they hate us? It 
must be because we're free."

     But if we were really free, we could refuse, as 
individuals, to support these outrages. Yes, Arab murders 
of Israeli children are horrible too, but at least we 
aren't forced to pay for those murders. Paying for the 
murder of Arab children is now part of what it means to 
be an American. I figure that my share of American aid to 
Israel has bought quite a few bullets for Israeli 
soldiers by now.

     One of those soldiers looked through his sight, took 
aim at a little boy's chest, and squeezed the trigger. 
What kind of man could even bear to do that? I don't 
know, but Israel seems to produce quite a few of them. 
One such man is now Israel's prime minister, Ariel 
Sharon. So were several of his predecessors.

     Abba Eban died the other day. I hadn't realized he 
was still alive. During the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Eban 
spoke for Israel at the United Nations with an eloquence 
nobody who heard him will ever forget. He convinced 
millions of us that Israel was a beleaguered island of 
civilization in a savage part of the world. Terrorism 
meant Arab terrorism, almost by definition.

     That was my view for 15 years. It took Israel's 
terrifying bombing of Beirut in 1982 to change my mind. 
That was Ariel Sharon's finest hour, so to speak. It 
convinced even many American Jews that Abba Eban's Israel 
no longer existed, if it ever had.

     Put it this way. It's very hard to imagine Abba Eban 
shooting a child. It isn't hard at all to imagine Sharon 
doing it. The only question is how many times he has 
actually done it.

     You might think that, just from the standpoint of 
public relations, Sharon would tell his soldiers to be a 
little more careful. And you might think this country's 
Israel lobby would suggest that he try a little more of 
the Eban approach.

     But during the 1967 war, Israelis like Sharon 
learned that they could get away with anything, including 
killing American sailors. If American aid not only 
continued but increased after the Israelis murdered 
Americans, Sharon can be sure it won't stop because they 
kill Arab children.

     The Arabs have noticed. And they have drawn 
conclusions not only about Israel, but about Americans. 
They must find American preaching about democracy and 
human rights a little annoying.

     How often Americans say of foreign races, "Those 
people only understand one thing: force." Might certain 
foreigners have some reason to say those words about 

     The United States is on the verge of war for the 
alleged purpose of making sure Saddam Hussein never gets 
"weapons of mass destruction." Ariel Sharon already has 
those weapons, and in abundance. The Arabs know this too.

     American Middle Eastern policy seems based on the 
assumption that the Arabs won't notice the obvious. But 
if the murder of their children doesn't shock us, neither 
should their hatred.


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