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I. Articles

There are Two Wars Here

As Published in Ma'ariv

By Amos Oz
April 1, 2002

There are two wars here. The one is the Palestinian peopleís war for its right to free itself from occupation and to establish an independent state. Every decent person should support that cause. The other war is the war of fanatical Islam, from Iran to Gaza and from Lebanon to Kalkilya, to annihilate Israel and to uproot the Jewish people from its homeland. That is a criminal war that every decent person should despise.

The bewilderment, confusion and simplification that grips us and the world stems from the fact that Yasser Arafat and his men are waging these two wars as if they were one and the same, they are waging them concurrently. The suicide-murderers apparently do not distinguish between these two wars. And even decent people who aspire to peace and justice, in Israel and the world at large, are duped: they either defend the continued Israeli occupation with the argument that Israel was, even prior to the occupation of the territories, at the time of the invasion of the Arab armies in 1948, a target of jihad, or they condemn and decry Israel with the argument that the occupation and the occupation alone is the source of evil, and that the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation is natural and justified resistance. There are some who cling to the argument that the Palestinians are merely the victims of a foreign occupying force, and therefore they are entitled to kill their oppressors -- and there are others who cling to the no-less simplistic argument that Israelis are a target for an Islamic annihilation campaign, and therefore we are entitled to oppress the killers.

There are two wars being waged here. The one is extremely justified and the other is saturated with wrong and also lacks any chance of success. The war over the future of the territories needs to be finished. We need to begin putting an end to the occupation, begin evacuating settlements that were deliberately pinned in the heart of Palestinian territories. We need to seal Israelís borders -- even without an agreement -- so that they reflect the demographic logic of conceding our control over those who do not want to live under our rule.

It is difficult to know whether the end of the occupation will result in jihad subsiding. If it does -- we will sit together, they and us, and we will haggle over the details of peace. If not -- it will be incumbent upon us to fortify and seal Israelís logical border, the demographic border, and continue to fight with all our might against the forces of destruction and jihad.

Should the end of the occupation fail to bring us peace -- at least we will have, instead of two wars, only one war: Not a war about "our sole right to the Land of Israel" but rather a war of our right to live as a free people in our country. A just war, a war of no-choice, for life and our home. A war in which it may be easier for us to enlist support, aid and allies to our side. And we will win that war, as is nearly always the case nearly everywhere when those who fight are fighting only for their homes, their liberty and their very lives.

Amos Oz is a leading Israeli writer and a founder of the Peace Now movement.

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