At 11:15 PM Israel time, a suicide bomber blew themselves up at Tel Aviv's Stage Club. As of this letter's writing, four persons are dead and thirty are wounded. According to news sources at Ha'aretz and the BBC, Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad has taken responsibility for the attack, while Agence France Press reports that the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade has also claimed responsibility. According to the Guardian, based on their analysis of recent communications between militants in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories, Palestinian intelligence officials contend that there is strong evidence linking Lebanese Shi'ite organization Hezbollah to today's attack.
Irrespective of what organization is really responsible, three facts are immediately clear: First, that there is no way this suicide bombing can be rationalized, except to argue that it was meant to destroy the current ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians; Second, that this attack will only serve the interests of Israeli and Palestinian hard-liners who oppose a resumption of the peace process; Third, that it will steel the resolve of Israeli settlers eager to show that the forthcoming July withdrawal from Gaza and the northern West Bank will do nothing to curb Palestinian violence.
While we here at Tikkun cannot emphasize strongly enough our solidarity with the victims of today's terror attack, we similarly cannot emphasize enough the restraint we believe the Israeli government will have to show in responding to this event. This cannot be the pretext for another Operation Defensive Shield. We strongly insist that the Israeli government react in the most intelligent and sensitive of ways to what has transpired in Tel Aviv, and not use this as an excuse to collectively punish the Palestinians for what may very well be the act of a single militant organization - Palestinian or Lebanese - that may have carried out today's killings. We hope that you will consider writing or calling your local congressperson's office to tell them this and urge them to continue to support the peace process in Israel/Palestine.
Should the culprits prove to be Hezbollah, we cannot but reflect ironically on what a deep grave this entirely unsympathetic fundamentalist guerrilla organization continues to help dig for itself, and its foreign sponsors, Syria and Iran. Should the culprits turn out to be Islamic Jihad or the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, we would hope that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz not hold the new government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responsible for their actions. Given how much Abbas has achieved these past few weeks, its the least we, as supporters of both Israel and Palestine, can do.
Since his January election, Abbas' peacemaking and security efforts have given both Israelis and Palestinians the only window of hope for a better future we have seen over the course of the past four and a half years of conflict. We owe it to Abbas to recognize his achievements to date. And we owe ourselves the time and the restraint we need to morally weigh how to properly punish the responsible party here, irrespective of the internal political advantages that the Sharon government may gain in order to demonstrate to Israel's right wing that it remains tough on security.
Some supporters of Palestinian rights may believe that this attack comes in response to the recent decisions of the Israeli cabinet to formalize the path of the Wall being built by Israel through the West Bank, to make permanent 120 previously "illegal" settlement outposts, and to build 6,000 new homes in the existing settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim. We oppose the Wall and we oppose the use of the forthcoming withdrawal as a cover to further annex territory already promised to the Palestinians under past agreements.
As we have emphasized over and over again, the only real security is peace. Any attempt to use this event for partisan political purposes will not only help continue the cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians indefinitely. It will similarly cheapen the memory of those Israelis killed by tonight's violence in the service of the immoral ideological objectives expressed by this bloodshed. At every level, this action is wrong and we condemn it unequivocally.
Joel Schalit, Managing Editor