Playing with words: Legitimizing Violence

Ray Hanania’s Column

Vice President Dick Cheney says Israel is justified in killing Palestinians if the Israelis believe the Palestinians are planning acts of violence.

In many African-American communities in the United States, they refer to that kind of policy as “police brutality.”

No, Mr. Cheney, it is not okay to murder someone who you “think” is planning to attack you. American citizens don’t have that right and neither do most civilized countries.

Like most of their injustices against the Arabs and the Palestinians, the Israelis have coined a phrase to describe this policy. It’s called “extra-judicial killings.”

In any other civilized society, the term would be abhorrent. But Israel is not like most civilized countries that adhere to things like the Geneva Conventions which prohibit the confiscation of lands belonging to an occupied people.

Nor do International Laws sanction the imprisonment of people without detailing the charges or the evidence against them, or denying the accused the right to legal counsel.

So why can Israel overstep the moral boundaries of justice?

For one, Israeli leaders create phrases that cast their actions in more acceptable terms. It’s called “public relations” and “spin,” the process of making “perception” turn into “reality” and concepts foreign to most Arab countries.

It works. In 1967, a bombastic Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser, whose ragtag army was out-gunned by Israel 400 to 1, allegedly vowed to “drive the Jews into the sea.”

Rather than wait for the escort, Israel launched a “preemptive strike,” a term that essentially said Israel had the right to occupy neighboring Arab lands and assault its Arab neighbors because they believed they were being threatened.

It’s an interesting concept, one that Israel has cleverly applied repeatedly since. If they feel “provoked,” they can kill the provocateur.

It’s one of the only places on earth where a provocation can be a sentence of death. No evidence. No public trial or scrutiny — God forbid you can’t have the public knowing the truth. And no responsibility.

We have only seen that happen in the United States a few times. The most recent was at Columbine High school where two disgruntled students explained in their after-the-killing-spree video that they were tired of being picked on by school bullies and jocks.

In the past year, Israel has murdered more than 50 Palestinians it  alleged were engaged in “terrorist activity.”

We’re expected to just accept Israel’s word on that. We are also expected to ignore the facts. Facts that include, for example, that six times more Palestinians have died in the recent conflict than Israelis.

If you happen to be two little children walking past an office building Israel asserts is a terrorist base camp, and are killed too, well that’s just too bad.

In a single stroke, Israel has trashed the accepted civilized concept of  “innocent until proven guilty.”

Ah, but if Israel had to prove everything, they wouldn’t exist as a state today, let alone be occupying and confiscating Palestinian lands in the West Bank, Gaza and Arab East Jerusalem.

Israel doesn’t like the “poor odds” of having to justify what it does. It expects the world to accept their one-sided claims on face value.

If Israel brands someone a terrorist, they can kill that person, as they have done more than 50 times in the past year and thousands of times since its creation in 1948.

Israel’s real purpose is not justice, but the confiscation of land and the expulsion of Christian and Muslim Arabs who do not fit in their version of a “Democratic Jewish State,” an oxymoron if ever one existed.

Terms like “preemptive strike” and “extra-judicial killings” may be how Israel cleverly explains away it’s actions, but in the eyes of true justice, Israel’s actions are criminal.

There is another term for it, of course. It’s called “state sponsored terrorism.” That is the greater crime that describes Israel’s mockery of morality and it’s internationally unethical behavior.

(Ray Hanania is a Palestinian American writer based in Chicago and a regular contributor to MMN. His columns are archived on the web at

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