When Peace Died

On September 30, 2000, Talal Abu Rahmeh, a stringer for the French government television network, France 2, launched the Al Durah Hoax. It was the two in a one-two punch that launched a conflict that murdered thousands of Palestinians and Israelis. (The one was the ‘Day of Rage’ called by Yassir Arafat two days earlier.)

In this hoax, Abu Rahmeh supposedly filmed a young boy’s last moments as he died of gunshot wounds while a distraught father tried to shield him with his body. The film ripped at your heart as you watched a father lose consciousness and a young boy die.

You cannot watch someone die without being changed. For the Arabs and Palestinians, that change was an incoherent rage that rocked the Middle East. For Israelis, it was a feeling of self-recrimination and horror, a renewed desire to keep other Palestinian children from the same fate. 

Days later, Israelis began to learn that they had become victims of a hoax, but by then it was too late. The damage was done and the flames of rage had already been ignited. 

I remember the feeling. I remember the response. I also remember the body count. 

It was a terrible time. A summer of joy ended in death, despair, and destruction. Optimism and hope died by degrees. My friends, my neighbors, and my coworkers awoke each morning to headlines more terrible than the day before. 

Joanna Chandler’s recent article for FrontPage magazine, titled A New Dreyfus Affair, brought that all back, and they aren’t pleasant memories.

However, all of this was staged within a broader context, so let me talk about that for a moment. If you are familiar with these events, you will know that just two months earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian President Yassir Arafat, and President Clinton met at Camp David to iron out a final peace. That was where Ehud Barak shocked the world by accepting every one of Arafat’s conditions for peace. It was also the same place where Arafat caused even greater shock by unconditionally rejecting Barak’s offer.

Two months later Arafat called a ‘Day of Rage’ and perpetuated a hoax of appalling magnitude. In just two months, Israel found itself engulfed by violence and with dream of peace forever broken.

There are so many issues surrounding this story that this can hardly be more than a beginning of a beginning, so expect me to flail about over the next few days trying to explain what a terrible moment this was – and why it speaks so eloquently of the human condition. 

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Ms. Chandler’s article is great. However, it is even better when you see it in Muslim World Today:

http://www.muslimworldtoday.com/affair31.htm

The fact that her article appears on a Muslim news site is VERY good progress.

You can also get good background material here:

http://www.seconddraft.org/home.php