Have you noticed how the news media seem to follow every act and every signal given by the Israeli government without even attempting to question or challenge their numerous lies? Anyone who hasn’t kept up with the Middle East during the last 35 or so years would automatically come to the conclusion that the Palestinian suicide bomber, for no reason whatsoever, is responsible for creating all the violence and Israels brutal retaliation. It’s like the Palestinians were living in complete freedom without an ounce of oppression, and for no reason at all the suicide bombers began to strike.
In actuality, the suicide bombers are a relatively new thing, they started only about 10 years ago. The news media highlights the suicide bombings but there is little mention made about the brutal occupation that perpetrates these terrible acts. For 53 years the Palestinians have been dispossessed of their land, displaced from their homes, yet the media chooses to highlight the suicide bombings and ignore their plight for 53 years. When the White House condemns terror, they only condemn the suicide bombings and ignore State Terrorism of the Israeli government. Does that sound like a ballanced Middle East Policy? Why don’t they condemn the 2650 Palestinan homes demolished by the Israeli government that was going on months before the suicide bombings?
When Ariel Sharon went to Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem, in September 2000, surrounded by a thousand Israeli soldiers, he was delivering a message of contempt for the peace process. Flaunting Israeli control of this key site in East Jerusalem which is viewed as the historic capital of Palestine by the Palestinians, he meant to humiliate the Palestinians and assert Israeli power. Sharon brought with him a bloody record-from the Qibya massacre in 1953 where forces under his command blew up 45 houses and killed 69 people to the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 where thousands of Palestinians were murdered at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. After seven years of bitterly disappointed hopes in the Oslo peace process and an increasing recognition that their national survival altogether was on the line, the Palestinians expressed outrage and rose up in resistance to this provocation by Sharon. In response, the Israeli army gunned down 90 youth who were throwing stones and sent tanks, combat helicopters and missiles into Palestinian areas.
Now the Israeli government declares itself to be on a mission of self-defense provoked by suicide bombings. But the reality of the situation-for those willing to see-is that the Israeli armed forces are on a mission to wreck Palestinian society and to deliver a message that Israel and the U.S. hold the fate of the Palestinians in their hands.
Rampaging through the West Bank towns, the Israeli army has imposed a brutal occupation on the Palestinian people. This occupying army-with its Apache helicopters, F-16s, tanks, and bulldozers-has destroyed Palestinian cities, dismantled the Palestinian Authority, killed untold numbers of people, driven people from their homes, prevented ambulances from picking up the wounded, and imposed a reign of terror.
Occupation. What does it mean? It means living under the gun. It means land stolen, homes destroyed, culture denied. It means that the Israeli government and army dictate the lives of the Palestinian people. Resistance, any resistance, is met by punishment.
A whole generation of Palestinian youth have seen occupying troops gun down kids throwing rocks, bulldoze people’s homes and uproot orchards in retaliation for acts of resistance. And living under occupation has kindled a desperate determination to fight against the occupiers. Without a real revolutionary strategy for taking on and defeating the occupiers, many youth have turned to suicide missions as a way of hitting back. Yet the news media often forgets to mention the brutal oppression and occupation that has led to the suicide bomber and surely you will never hear it mentioned by any Israeli apoligist. They prefer to portray the suicide bomber as the victimizer and the people of Israel at the victim. But then that’s nothing new. For 35 years the media have maintained their blanket of silence, and the politicians have maintained their sickening pretense about our “gallant, little ally” in the Middle East. This is the “little ally” which continues to moan to the world about how it is “persecuted” by the Arabs, while at the same time violates numerous international laws while committing human rights violations against innocent Palestinian people.
Amidst the brutal occupation, there have been some positive signs of Jewish opposition to the occupation. Earlier this year, the Israeli reservists who refused to take part in the military occupation of West Bank and Gaza confirmed the terrible injustice and the war crimes of their own army. And as Israeli forces savaged Ramallah, the world was surprised by a young Jewish man from Brooklyn, who brought medical assistance to the beseiged Palestinian President Arafat and told the press, “This is not about politics between Jew and Arab, between Muslim and Jew. This is a case of human dignity, human freedom and justice that the Palestinians are struggling for against an occupier, an oppressor. The violence did not start with Yasser Arafat. The violence started with the occupation.” Suicide bombers are bred from this oppression.
The survival of the Palestinian people is on the line. A people who will not be vanquished are up against a brutal state that is compelled to vanquish them. Confronting the most severe onslaught by the Israeli armed forces since Ariel Sharon led the Israeli army to attack the Palestinian camps in Lebanon in 1982, the Palestinian people-who have resisted and resisted in the hopes of regaining a homeland-face an historic turning point.
Their cause is the cause of the oppressed everywhere.
James J. David is a retired Brigadier General and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College, and the National Security Course, National Defense University, Washington DC. He served nearly 3 years of Army active duty in and around the Middle East from 1967-1969.