Who is afraid of war?

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Vulnerable, exposed and disempowered, the Palestinians under Israeli occupation pray that the Arabs, the Muslims and the rest of the world will come to their aid having recognized the seriousness of the situation in Palestine. With superior military power and thorough intelligence infiltration into Palestinian ranks, the Israelis have been liquidating what they claim to be potential “perpetrators of terror,” bulldozing houses, turning Palestinian olive groves into restricted military zones and letting loose herds of settlers who insist on proving to the world that they have very little in common with humanity.

Perhaps the most distressing thing for the Palestinians amid all the pain and suffering is the Arab inaction and even lack of interest in what is happening to their brethren in occupied Palestine, the bleeding heart of the Arab homeland.

Previously, Palestine was the Arab cause and prior to that it was the Islamic cause. Now, the Palestinians feel abandoned, though their predicament is not exclusively of their own making. While Israel escalates both its language and action, the Arabs around Palestine continue to hide their heads in the sand, and there is no shortage of sand in the Arab land.

In spite of undeniable support and sympathy for Palestine and the Palestinians on the part of the Arab masses, they are well short of being able to persuade their governments to shift from inaction to action. It is no secret that many of these governments are more interested in negative action, one involving suppressing their public and combating any effort aimed at helping the Palestinians.

What should the Palestinians do in such circumstances? Materially speaking, they are no match against the Israeli war machinery. While suffering suffocating measures by Israeli occupation authorities, stringent controls are imposed on their movement, trade and communication by their Arab brothers across the borders. Worst of all has been the role played by collaborating individuals and agencies from amongst the Palestinians themselves with their oppressors, the Israelis. Many of the assassinations carried out by Israeli secret agents, the so-called Arabist units, might not have succeeded without the collaboration of Palestinian traitors, not infrequently acting in their capacity as PA officials or members of joint security teams.

It is becoming increasingly evident that the days to come are likely to bear more pain and more suffering for the Palestinians than all the days that have passed since their predicament ensued with the creation of Israel more than 50 years ago.

Notwithstanding, the Palestinians who live under occupation in Gaza and the West Bank have no option but to remain steadfast in their land and to resist the persistent Israeli attempts to drive them away. Such resistance will not be pain-free. More than ever before the Israeli public is shifting in the direction of uprooting the Palestinians from their homeland. Hence the election of Sharon as Prime Minister of Israel, in spite of his war crimes records and overt anti-Arab and anti-Muslim views.

In response to my July article on Palestine, I received two messages from Israelis who read my article with seeming disgust. What both respondents agree on, and seem to have copied each other in expressing their opinions, is denying the Palestinians the right to exist and despising Islam and the Muslims. One of them wrote:

“You fail to mention [that] Palestinians tell these suicide bombers that when they kill Jews, they will go to heaven and be with 72 virgins. Can you tell me [of] another religion so savage and evil? Then you say how Israel robbed the Palestinians of [their] homeland. What homeland? There was never in history any State called Palestine. The Palestinians never controlled or governed any land before 1993.

“The Palestinians are really unwanted Arabs from Egypt and Syria, who immigrated to the land from 1831 to 1947. Palestine is a fake, invented Roman name, which the Romans named after the Greek Philistines. The Palestinians are totally unrelated to the Philistines.”

The other wrote:

“Judea and Samaria and all of Jerusalem are liberated Israeli land. Tell us when did it ever belong to Palestinians? Answer: never. It was never Palestinian land to begin with, so your question is invalid. The Palestinians never governed or controlled any land before 1993. To make it simple, please tell me one Palestinian President before 1993. Keep thinking. The Palestinians want a capital that they never had in a country that never existed. The Palestinians are really unwanted Arabs from Egypt and Syria, who immigrated to the land from 1831 to 1947. Palestine is a fake, invented Roman name, which the Romans named after the Greek Philistines. The Philistines are totally unrelated to the current-day Palestinians. Israel existed 1,500 years before Muhammad was born. Besides Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the entire Middle East and North Africa was stolen from the native peoples by Muhammad in the 7th century. Anyone that resisted Muhammad had their heads cut off. Look at Islamic countries and look at shariah laws. It’s a brutal, violent and intolerant religion. There is a primary historical fact that must be established now. There has never been, I repeat NEVER been, a civilization, entity or a nation referred to as Palestine. There was never a Palestinian tribe, and there was never a Palestinian country in the land of Israel to begin with!”

I do not subscribe to the opinion that all Jews think in the way those two do. But I have no doubt in my mind that what is expressed in the messages of these two readers is a reflection of the racist and fascist Zionist ideology. Zionism was founded on myths created by greedy and desperate individuals. Today, it is defended and supported by a majority of Jews and a minority of Christians who accept these myths as facts. Zionists cherish the idea, which no respectable historian would entertain, that since the destruction of the Second Temple at around 70 AD, Palestine remained mysteriously unpopulated waiting for them to come back and claim it as a divine right for being God’s chosen people. It is an idea that cannot be debated around a respectable discussion table. You simply cannot reach a middle ground on an idea, a lie, that is illogical, unfair and merely aimed at justifying the unjustifiable and legitimizing the illegitimate. By virtue of the exposure of Zionist beliefs, especially since Sharon took over, it is only now that some of those who once thought they could talk sense into the minds of Zionists in the hope of reaching some middle ground with them have begun to realize the gravity of their ill-judgment.

The Palestinians need to brace themselves for the worst, which is yet to come. For Israel is no ordinary occupying power and its colonialism of Palestine is no conventional imperialist project, though it shares many of the features of European colonial enterprises. Past colonial projects ended with the occupiers withdrawing to their motherlands, be it Britain, France, Italy, Holland, Portugal or Spain. In the case of Palestine, Israelis are not comfortable withdrawing not even from an inch of the land they occupy. For in spite of Arab weakness, the Israelis can never feel secure if limited to a strip of land along the Mediterranean coast. They are haunted by the prospect of being flushed out completely. Where would they withdraw? Some of them may know by now that they have no future except as a Jewish community living in the region as some Jewish communities lived there before for more than 13 centuries. But this clearly means an end to Zionism and an end to Israel.

As the Israelis feel more threatened and vulnerable, they act less orderly, less predictably and much more desperately. But why should the Israelis be made more vulnerable if this is likely to backfire on the Palestinians? This is the enigma of the vicious cycle initiated by the Israelis. Their policies, their ambitions and their lack of confidence, which is most probably the outcome of a mixture of inherent guilt and insecurity, are expressed eventually in one way: oppressive action against the Palestinians, the victims of their occupation. This is the nature of tyranny.

Politicians in the Arab region, in Europe and in the United States have constantly warned against the danger of war engulfing the region as a result of the inability on the part of both Palestinians and Israelis to resolve their dispute. But war has actually started. What else may one describe what the Israelis are doing? It is a war, but one that is between a military superpower and a beleaguered civilian population.

The Palestinians have no option but to take on the Israelis and meet their challenge. It is true they have every right to be dismayed by Arab and Muslim lack of response to Israel’s atrocities. However, no one will ever rise to help them, and coming generations will not forgive them, if they do not prove to be willing to make the utmost of sacrifice for a cause that, in spite of a shortage of support today, is a sublime and most honourable one. Nothing justifies giving up the struggle in anticipation of an Arab or Muslim renaissance of some sort.

The Palestinians are not short of means and methods that will deter the Israelis and awaken them from their intoxication. If the message Israelis send to Palestinian young men is that they are destined to lose their youth and have their lives taken away from them by Israeli snipers or Israeli Arabist units or Israeli apache helicopters, the response will be one of defiance rather than capitulation. Israeli politicians and strategists are clearly mistaken if they think that the Palestinians are afraid of war or that they would prefer a humiliating life to an honourable death.

Dr. Azzam Tamimi is director of of the London-based Institute of the Islamic Political Thought.

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