Paying for the Bullet
November 28, 2002
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
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
The boy was hit in the
chest. One witness said he wasnt 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 dont think so. These
accidents happen too often. The Israelis have shot more
than a few children. Its getting to be a habit. It no longer shocks.
And Americans like me
pay for the bullets. The Arabs know this. Thats 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
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 arent 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 boys chest, and
squeezed the trigger. What kind of man could even bear to do that? I
dont know, but Israel seems to produce quite a few of them. One
such man is now Israels prime minister, Ariel Sharon. So were
several of his predecessors.
Abba Eban died the
other day. I hadnt 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 Israels terrifying bombing of Beirut in 1982 to
change my mind. That was Ariel Sharons finest hour, so to speak. It
convinced even many American Jews that Abba Ebans Israel no
longer existed, if it ever had.
Put it this way.
Its very hard to imagine Abba Eban shooting a child. It isnt
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
countrys Israel lobby would suggest that he try a little more of the
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
wont 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 Americans?
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.
Eastern policy seems based on the assumption that the Arabs wont
notice the obvious. But if the murder of their children doesnt shock
us, neither should their hatred.