Ray Hanania’s Column
From the moment Ariel Sharon put his foot on the Haram Al-Ash Sharif on September 28, he has been following a plan.
The goal of that strategy is to destroy the anemic peace process, and then establish a precedent to use the Israel military to push out more Palestinians and “re-capture” lands “conceded” to the Palestinians under the terms of the Oslo Peace Process.
Sharon, who is the epitome of Israeli fanaticism, is loyal not to justice or fairness, but to the ultimate goals of the fanatic Israeli settler movement and the legacy of the first terrorist in Palestine, Menachem Begin.
Today’s Israeli military incursion into Khan Younis is no different than the day he entered the Haram AL-Ash Sharaf surrounded by a thousand or more soldiers. The purpose was to provoke Palestinians, kill Palestinians, and then take their land.
His strategy is simple: Provoke the Palestinians in the boldest most audacious manner, and then respond with unrestrained, brutal military force when Palestinians react.
It is the strategy of the “street bully” who walks up to an innocent man, points a gun in the man’s face and makes threats. The man responds by slapping away the gun and the bully then pulls the trigger, killing the victim, crying that he did so in “defense.”
Sharon is crying that he is killing Palestinians in “defense,” as a result of attacks made by the Palestinians.
The assertion does not need to be truthful by any means. All Israel has to do is say that the Palestinians are “firing mortars” into Israeli communities, or that the Palestinians are “throwing rocks” at soldiers, and it becomes true.
And Israel assured of this because they, with the help of the United States, prevented the United Nations from stationing an observer force in the areas in order to confirm or deny Israel’s accusations.
Israel didn’t want it and the United States vetoed the move. Why? Because a United Nation’s Observer Force would conclude, unequivocally, that the majority of the confrontations are provoked, started and initiated by Israeli soldiers who frequently fire upon innocent Palestinians who gather to protest and urge an end to the violence.
I recently returned from a trip to Palestine where I witnessed, on three occasions, Israeli soldiers firing upon Palestinians who did nothing more than protest.
The Israeli pattern is simple: They fire tear gas canisters into the crowds, and then fire so-called “rubber bullets.”
The tear gas canisters are made in the United States. They are six inches long and one and one-half inches in diameter, with a point. When they strike a human, they cause tremendous harm. These canisters are unlike those used by American police to quell riots and are shaped like pop cans. They hurt, but don’t kill.
The term “rubber bullet” refers to a steel ball bearing that is almost one inch in diameter that is coated with a thin coat of plastic. In reality, this is the so-called “plastic bullet.”
Additionally, Israel s using the so-called “dum dum” bullet, which is a bullet that has a hole drilled into the lead of the lead bullet. “Dum dum” bullets have been outlawed in the United States, but are most often used to kill large animals, such as elephants. The hollowed out center expands upon contact with skin or flesh from the 1/4 inch diameter to a flattened, and lethal two inch wide piece of lead that enters the body with a small hole and exits with a hole large enough to put a fist, killing the target.
Sharon will continue to follow this strategy because he is assured of three things: First, the Israeli left or those who support peace, are under a self-imposed silence. Second, he knows that under George W. Bush, the United States will, in fact, withdraw from the more active role it played in Middle East peace under President Clinton. Third, he is convinced that the Arab World will not intervene to prevent the wholesale massacre of the Palestinians.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan does not want to jeopardize its application to receive “Most Favored Nation Trade Status” from the US, thus insuring a larger profit margin on product sales to the United States.
And most of the other Arab countries are on the American dole, preferring not to risk the funding, loans and grants they now receive from the Americans.
What can the Palestinians do?
First, they must accept the long term suffering that conflict with Israel’s fanatic Prime Minister will bring. They will either be killed with their hands out stretched in peace, or holding a gun and a grenade.
Palestinian Americans need to improve their media strategies, and apply professional methods to get our message out. The fact is that the American theater is where the future of the Palestinians lay. And until we learn to get our message out to Americans, Israel will continue to lie, cheat, steal and murder.
Too many Palestinians, like Edward Said, can write books about what they don’t like about Oslo and peace with Israel, but they don’t know how to explain what needs to be done. These “professors” need to be pushed aside to the side lines where they can observe, record history and get out of the way.
The Palestinian leadership outside of Palestine, which has been paralyzed by internecine rivalries and jealousies, can come together and seek a realistic strategy to confront Israel’s brutality.
The Israelis are suffering as much as the Palestinians. The difference is, we have always been suffering under Israel’s brutal and inhumane rule.
The Israelis need to be reminded about how painful their refusal to return our land really will be.
Then, and only then, will Israel return to the peace table with a realistic compromise that recognizes the rights of the Palestinian people.
(Ray Hanania is a Palestinian American writer based in Chicago and a regular contributor to MMN. His columns are archived on the web at www.hanania.com)