Border violence has plagued Israel for as long as anyone can remember, but even by the senseless standards of the Middle East, November was a particularly deadly month.

The body count was 12 Israelis killed and many wounded in gunfights on the Lebanese, Jordanian or Egyptian borders. This is the highest monthly toll since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 1985. It follows the Temple Mount incident in October in which 20 Palestinians were killed by Israeli police.

The Israeli casualties came in a series of apparently unrelated incidents. Four were killed when an Egyptian border policeman opened fire on passing Israeli vehicles. Two soldiers were wounded when a teen-age girl, strapped with high explosives, executed a suicide mission. Five died in a ferocious firefight with Palestinian guerrillas. And so on.

But if the casualty count was unusual, the violence is all too par for the course. Triggering the carnage is an endless cycle of attack by one side and retribution by the other. At the bottom of it all is hate and intolerance.


“Each of these (anti-Israeli) organizations carries out these attacks from the same view,” said one expert. That view is that Israel must not be permitted to continue to exist. It is that view--and the hatred and intolerance in some Israeli circles--that makes the Middle East a hell on Earth.

The task of statesmanship is to improve the human condition and make peace where there is war. Neither the Arabs nor the Israelis will ever achieve their just destiny if they can’t manage to elevate their ambitions and find a way to live in relative harmony.