That many of our “esteemed” columnists are pro-Israel is nothing new. But when individuals push for a war on unarmed civilians, they are essentially calling for a genocide. Palestinians don’t have an army. Israel has the fourth most powerful army in the world. Ironically, the Israelis have convinced some in the world that they are the ones being victimized. Amnesty International has even gone so far as to say that Israeli crimes in the Intifada could be war crimes. The rest of the world has condemned Israel for its excessive use of force.
For many of us who have relatives in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, it is a new media line that is mind-boggling. Israeli tanks have redeployed on Palestinian lands, but Palestinians are told not to attack. I suppose it would be more convenient for everyone if Palestinians just told Israel that they will continue to serve their Israeli masters. But there’s a saying that there is no enemy greater than the one who has nothing to lose. Despite F16 bombings by Israel, despite the assassinations, despite placing Palestinians in very difficult economic siege, despite bombing Palestinian churches and mosques, despite Palestinian children being unable to go to school, despite the fact that the villages are surrounded by trenches thus preventing people from even leaving their villages é despite all of this, it has not stopped Palestinians from resisting. They simple have nothing to lose, and more importantly, they have no fear. This is a difficult mentality to win against, no matter how well-equipped the Israeli Army is and no matter how merciless they are.
Some Israelis and Jewish supporters are even asking “Where are the Palestinian moderates? Where have they been since the Intifada began?” If one were to listen to the average Israeli complaint, the Intifada for Palestinian freedom was apparently initiated to make life difficult for Israelis.
Would it have been nice to resolve the conflict at the negotiating table? Sure, but Israel sought to circumvent international law and hand out the carrots it wanted to give. The reasons for the current intifada are many. All of which any human being can understand. Freedom from occupation would be a good start. Freedom from having their olive orchards uprooted, a source of income for many. Freedom from having their homes demolished. Freedom to go to schools and universities without the threat of IDF live ammunition. Freedom from Israeli military checkpoints, which never went away since the signing of the Oslo Accords. Freedom from land confiscation to build more illegal Israeli settlements. Freedom to travel to hospitals during emergencies without being detained — some until death ensues. Freedom from torture, which still exists despite a ban issued by Israel’s High Court. Freedom from the sadist brutality of Israeli border patrol when they go to their jobs. Freedom to be children as opposed to fighting like adults so that they are not subject to the same humiliation their parents are. Freedom of the same kind of security that Israelis want for themselves. Freedom to dream. For 34 years, the Palestinians showed restraint by accepting these denials of freedom. Yet, they are vilified and it is Israel that is praised with allegedly showing restraint.
Many are still using Barak’s “generous” offer argument. With the Palestinian side finally told several weeks ago, we find that the offer was hardly generous. A future Palestinian state could not have been viable under Barak’s plan, and wasn’t this the whole point of the Oslo Accords? I wonder if people realize that Palestinians were expected to negotiate for their right of self-determination? This right is actually guaranteed to every human being under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [December, 1948].
Unfortunately, there isn’t going to be peace anytime soon. The relationship between Palestinians and Israelis is apparently based on the Occupied accepting the Diktats of the Occupier. Palestinians are still waiting for Israelis to truly recognize that Israel’s oppressive policies must end immediately, and to fight for Palestinian human rights as opposed to acting as if these rights are Israeli gifts. So long as Palestinians are subjected to the daily humiliation, what do the Israelis expect in return?
In sum, Israel has showed itself to be masters at retribution. It seems that they should be lauding the Palestinians for learning this lesson from them. After all, couldn’t one argue that just as Israelis have killed innocent Palestinians during F16 bombings or Apache helicopter attacks for justifiable retaliation, so the Palestinians are launching their own form of warfare? Tragic, isn’t it?
Sherri Muzher is a Palestinian-American activist, lawyer, and freelance journalist.