A tale in two sentences

October 10, 1990

Two sentences in Sun correspondent Robert Ruby's dispatch from Jerusalem yesterday tell the whole story:

"Israeli police shot to death at least 19 Palestinians on the Temple Mount yesterday [and] injured more than 140 others . . ."

"Police said 20 Israeli civilians and six policemen were injured, none seriously . . ."

In light of these undisputed facts, questions of who provoked the incident -- whether the Jewish religious extremists who first marched against a Moslem holy site, or the Palestinians who threw rocks at Jewish worshipers at their holy site -- are irrelevant. The gross disparity between a massacre on one side and minor injuries on the other is self-evident. Under the circumstances, President Bush was showing restraint himself when he called on Israel to use "greater restraint" in such clashes.

But the fact is, while Monday's carnage was the worst of a single day, on average one Palestinian Arab has been killed every day since the uprising in the occupied territories began three years ago. Compare that to the uprising in the Philippines which toppled a dictator: Only three or four people lost their lives. Or the uprising in Korea which toppled another dictator: Only one person lost his life. Or in Czechoslovakia, where no one lost life.

From these indisputable facts, it is impossible to draw any conclusion other than that excessive force is virtually government policy in Israel. Little wonder that the United States is at long last prepared to join in condemning such policy in the United Nations. That is hardly an "excessive" response.

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