The irony of Israel’s occupation

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Anyone interested in the welfare of the Middle East region as a whole, and of the lot of Palestinians and Israelis especially, could not but have noticed an incredible irony in the past few of days.

Scene I: A few days ago, Israeli soldiers – with helmets, shields, and automatic weapons (some standing next to war tanks) – are filmed pausing in solemn silence for a couple of minutes remembering the Holocaust victims.

Scene II: A couple of days ago, a repetition of Scene I. Israeli soldiers, fully equipped and armed, pausing in solemn silence for a couple of minutes remembering those Israelis who were killed in war. It was Memorial Day.

Scene III: Up until last night Israelis are pictured celebrating. They have sealed themselves off extra carefully to guard against any Palestinian “attacks”. It was Independence Day.

Pausing from what, one could not but ask in connection with scenes I and II? Pausing from hot, violent and brutal pursuit of Palestinian children who are demonstrating for their right of safety, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. They are pausing from shooting at Palestinian pedestrians, bombing defenseless Palestinian towns and cities, and demolishing Palestinian homes.

Celebrating what, one may ask in connection with Scene III? Celebrating what the Israelis allow themselves to have and deny to other fellow human beings who are aspiring for the exact same thing: independence.

It is indeed amazing how double, dual, dichotomized, two-fold and binary members of the human species can be. Does it never occur to the fully armed, fully equipped, conscientious, diligent and hard-at-work Israeli soldiers that the Palestinian children, women and civilians whom they pursue, beat, club, shoot, kill or jail perceive themselves as entitled to the same rights of safety, security, life and dignity that victims of the Holocaust should have been granted? Should it not dawn on the Israeli soldiers who were remembering the Holocaust that they may be inflicting the same fear, terror and destruction against the Palestinians that many of their own parents and grandparents experienced not long ago in Europe?

One knows of course that many Israelis do not conceive any suffering as being comparable to the suffering of the victims of the Holocaust. Fine. But think about it. How do you think a child who is caught by a fully armed, entirely ruthless soldier feels? How does a Palestinian civilian, who is walking in the street minding his/her business, feel when he/she passes an Israeli jeep, tank or military post? How does a Palestinian mother feel when her child who was going to school is brought back to her dead?

Furthermore, what have the Palestinians done? Think about it. For more than a century, they have passed from one bad, ruthless occupation to another. They had not yet recovered from British occupation when they found themselves under the equally bad (worse in many ways) Israeli occupation.

What are the Palestinians supposed to do? Accept occupation? Abandon Nature and Nature’s God, as Thomas Jefferson put it in the “Declaration of Independence”, and succumb to blunt, blatant Israeli occupation?

In today’s world, where so much awareness has materialised regarding human rights, one would expect the Israelis to behave differently. Does not one expect a teacher who was beaten up by his teachers when he was a student to loathe, reject and speak against physical punishment? Does not one expect a battered wife to loathe, reject and speak against the abuse of women by husbands? Should not a person who has been raped loathe, reject and speak against rape?

It is indeed ironic that the Israeli soldiers take a pause for a couple of minutes to get in touch with their humanity, remember the suffering of their ancestors, and then deny the Palestinian children and civilians any degree of human sympathy. It is ironic that they pause to remember those Israelis who died in war and then at the end of the two minutes resume the war they wage against the Palestinians.

One does not aim to negate here the fact that the Israelis themselves also suffer in this vicious cycle of violence and counter violence.

Everyone is suffering. But one cannot but blame Israel because the choice to start, resume or abort and eliminate violence lies in the hands of the Israelis, not the Palestinians. The Palestinians are helpless, pathetic victims and responders, not initiators. Initiation of war or peace is in Israel’s power é and Israel’s alone.

It is indeed ironic, as well as incredible, that the Israelis simultaneously celebrate their independence and oppress, shoot and kill Palestinians for wanting to enjoy what the Israelis are enjoying.

For well over half a century now, Israel has consciously and consistently denied the Palestinians the simple, basic and inalienable right to security, peace and independence. This is ironic. This is bad.

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