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Some More Questions from the Back of the Class

Pondering the cycle of violence and other modern wonders.

12:00 AM, Sep 5, 2003 • By JOEL ENGEL
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WHY IS IT that a suicide bombing that kills 21 innocents, including six children, is not considered a violation of the "road map" ceasefire, but retaliating against the leaders of the group that perpetrated the massacre is considered a violation that leads to the abandonment of the ceasefire? (Sample line from a Reuters report, dated August 30: "Islamic militants renounced a seven-week-old truce a week after Israel killed Hamas's second-ranking political leader, Ismail Abu Shanab, by destroying his car with a missile after a suicide bombing killed 21 people in Jerusalem.")

Why are those who are killed accidentally by Israeli rockets intended for terrorist leaders called "bystanders," while those murdered intentionally by Palestinian bombers are just "people"?

Doesn't the word "collaborator" refer to someone who betrays his side to the enemy during wartime? So why, when Palestinians blithely murder Palestinians accused of doing business with Jews do we pretend that Palestinians do not consider themselves at war, one people against another? And why do we expect Israel to ignore this stubborn fact?

When Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas warned Israel to "understand that there is no military solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," why did he not repeat the same to Hamas and Hezbollah and all the other terrorist groups who've publicly and repeatedly stated that peace can never be made with "the Zionist entity" under any circumstances? And why do press reports repeatedly allude to the terrorists' desire for "statehood," when by their own words what they desire more is genocide?

What does it say about Reuters that its reporters consider Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon "right wing" and Yasser Arafat "the icon of Palestinian nationalism"?

Will the issue of Palestinian dancing and celebrations after every deadly bombing ever become more important to the debate than whether Israel releases terrorists from prison?

When Mario Cuomo, who's considered the patron saint of New York liberalism, tells the Times that California's recall election is "too much democracy," why isn't that a big story? Doesn't it confirm the hypocrisy of liberal elites, that they proclaim love for the little man but actually have only contempt for him?

If, as Walter Cronkite insisted in a recent column, the opposite of liberal is "intolerant," then why does the Democratic party's only unifying message these days seem to be deep-seated hatred for the president--in other words, intolerance?

Why, when General Wesley Clark rants paranoically about alleged White House plots, does the press take him seriously enough to report the stories with a collective straight face, but when Ross Perot ranted paranoically about conspiracies and plots did the press laugh along with the rest of us? And why is Clark considered by many Democrats to be their possible savior, when his great claim to fame was a bombing campaign that killed an extraordinary number of "bystanders" because his goal was to lose not a single American on the ground? Shouldn't the leftists who accused of us waging a racist war against Iraq have been out in force as Clark's bombs rained down on the Balkans?

What, exactly, are the draconian penalties that will be levied on Iran for lying to the International Atomic Energy Agency about its uranium enrichment program? A stern rebuke? The disappointment of diplomats? United Nations sanctions? No "Baywatch" reruns? Or anger at Israel? Hey, isn't it time we sent Jimmy Carter to Tehran?

Wouldn't the president guarantee his re-election by replacing Dick Cheney with Condi Rice? Doesn't Rice stand a better chance against Hillary Clinton in the fall of 2008 than any other Republican on the horizon? If Rice isn't asked to replace Cheney, can't a good case be made for voting Democrat next fall as a way of ending Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions four years later?

Do you think the University of Michigan, which announced a new admissions policy that's supposed to make room for "students of all walks of life and backgrounds," sends academic recruiters into Appalachia?

Which is the greater number: Prisoners murdered by convicted murderers not sentenced to execution, or innocents who've been wrongly convicted and executed?

If the economy is as bad as the Democratic contenders keep telling us, how come I can never find a parking spot at the mall?

Just wondering.

Joel Engel is an author and journalist in Southern California.