It was 1,000 days ago this week, on September 28, 2000, that Palestinian rioting first broke out in Jerusalem, setting off a cycle of murderous violence that hasn’t stopped yet. While the rioting was at first a momentary event — described by Palestinians as a reaction to Ariel Sharon’s Temple Mount visit that day, though it seems Yasser Arafat had planned it in advance — the violence eventually took on a life of its own. A Palestinian child was caught on camera dying in his father’s arms. Israeli Arabs took to the streets in solidarity and were mowed down by police. Two Israeli reservists were lynched in Ramallah. A wave of grisly suicide bombings struck across Israel: the Dolphinarium discotheque, the Netanya Seder, the Rishon Letzion pool hall and too many more to count. A series of Israeli retaliations reduced the level of terrorism, but left a civilian toll that sullied the image of the Jewish state.
Around the world, televised images of the violence have fueled a wave of hatred and rage against Israel and Jews that reminds many observers of the bleak years of the 1930s. Somewhere in there, the rest of the world found itself caught up in a war launched against the West by the shadowy Al Qaeda network. Where one terrorist war ends and the next begins, no one can say for sure. It seems at times as though our world has entered something like a new dark age. It has been a long 1,000 days indeed.
The cease-fire talks now underway in Gaza, Ramallah and Damascus, under the guidance and prodding of the American and Egyptian governments, may or may not lead to a real easing of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. But if it can quiet the streets for just a few months and let the world catch its breath, the negotiators will deserve our thanks.