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It's been a week since the election of Ariel Sharon -- contrary to The Associated Press, his first name is not 'hawkish' -- and, predictably, the violence between Israelis and Palestinians has not subsided in the slightest. This is tragic because each day the violence continues is a day closer to June 1, 2002, when I will step off an El Al airplane at Ben Gurion International Airport as a new Israeli citizen. Each new day of violence points to the possibility that I may fight in a war. Last week I watched intently CNN's coverage of the Israeli election. Had I voted, I probably would not have voted for Sharon. Had I voted, I would not have voted to stop the peace process, a motive heralded by the American media as an issue on the Israeli ballot. The election was not at all meant to curb the violence in the short-term. It was also not an attempt to declare the peace process dead, as those of the Palestinian Authority have suggested. "The most important issue is to take the necessary steps to restore security to the citizens of Israel," Sharon said on Wednesday after a Palestinian man drove a bus into a crowd of Israelis outside Tel Aviv, killing eight. The election was not a condemnation of the 1993 Oslo Accords; it was the affirmation of security above any agreement, above any concession. Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction -- aided by the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hizbullah -- has decided to pursue the violent path to peace. The Israeli people have decided that a true peace can only be achieved when the violence has stopped. "We cannot expect peace to be made in an atmosphere of violence," former President BillClinton said last week. "Nobody gives in when somebody's throwing bombs or bullets or even rocks." Unfortunately, the Palestinian people who choose to prolong the violence have not gotten the message. Unfortunately, countries such as Syria and Iran, which invest yearly in the hope that one day Israel may not exist, have not come to the realization that the Israeli people are there to stay. Far be it from me to suggest that the responsibility for the latest intifada rests solely on the shoulders of Arafat and his Palestinian Authority, or to infer that Israel has acted justly and blamelessly in its 30-year occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. There is plenty of blame to go around. But the international community must realize that so long as bus attacks, car bombings and shootings continue, Israel will consider itself a nation under attack. As long as that assumption is maintained, soldiers will be forced to fight, and yes, kill, to defend Israel. Some would contend that the Palestinians are merely an oppressed people who are fighting for independence from an imperialistic regime; that a future Palestine is a burgeoning America and since the colonists were not wrong in taking up arms in 1776, the Palestinians are not wrong in fighting for their homeland. Some would contend that Israel conducted terrorist attacks prior to 1948 when it was fighting for its homeland. Any criticism of the Palestinians for the same reason is, thus, disingenuous. Each claim has its merits. But whether or not the Palestinians' fight is just, the Israeli people cannot be expected to acquiesce while their children are slaughtered protecting a homeland many of their fathers and grandfathers died trying to establish. Clinton was absolutely correct in his speech at the Aventura Jewish Center last Saturday when he urged, "We have got to find a way to find mutual respect here." Like myself, the average Palestinian wants nothing more than a decent home in which to raise his family -- a decent education for his children and the promise of a better life for theirs. I look forward to one day being able drive from Modi'in to Jerusalem without fear of being shot at -- as happened to an unlucky Israeli a couple of weeks ago. I trust the average Palestinian looks forward to one day being able to work in Israel without the fear that he will be singled out because of his ethnicity. But both Israel and the Palestinian people have to look at the present, at a life filled with refugee camps and terrorist attacks. So Israel has turned to Sharon, hoping to find, as his campaign slogan trumpeted, "peace in security." Let's hope that a secure peace is not only possible, but inevitable. A future without it is no future at all.

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