At a time when hundreds of rockets are fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza against Israel -- threatening population centers, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv -- criticizing Israel's occupation of the West Bank would seem inappropriate at best. Many Israelis justify the continuing occupation in light of the intensifying violence. They argue that Israel cannot allow the West Bank to become under any circumstances like Gaza -- a staging ground for rocket attacks that could cause unimaginable death and destruction. The repeated acts of violence emanating from Gaza and the relative calm in the occupied West Bank are used to "validate" this claim. In reality, the occupation itself is the root cause behind the unending Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the current deadly flare-up between Israel and Hamas.
With the security barrier and long-term closures of the West Bank, and the effective embargo of Gaza, Palestinians seem increasingly foreign to Israelis. But Palestinians are among the most democratically minded populations in the region. If genuine democracy has any chance in the Arab world, it should be with the Palestinians.