Palestinians want to live normal lives. They want to be able to provide for their children and see their children's children grow and prosper. It is not, as the Israelis would say, that the Palestinians have chosen death. Rather, it is that the Israelis have never allowed them the chance to choose life.
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.
This is the fifth major assault in nine years. When and how it will end is unclear, but here's what we know for certain: No good will come from this madness; there will be no winners; and when the dust settles and the tears dry, Palestinians and Israelis will be more embittered and will feel less secure.
One night, at a beach resort, I got into a heated "Israel and the Palestinians" discussion with a Peace Corps guy. I countered with all the usual responses: the Holocaust, Israel must live, worldwide anti-Semitism, Palestinian terrorism. But the Peace Corps guy threw me a curve: "Your problem," he said, "is that you never met a Palestinian. You should go to Gaza."