Strength and Patience

Who would be fooled by the crocodile tears of Israeli government spokesmen who have “condemned” the killing of three Palestinians, including a baby, by Israeli settlers near Hebron last night?

According to reports, the three dead were identified as Mohammed Salameh Etnizi, 22, Mohammed Hilmy Etnizi, 20, and an infant, 3-month-old Wael Etnizi, from Idna village near Hebron. They died when settlers attacked their car, killing them and injuring four other people.

The Israeli condemnations of the killings come from those who have armed the settlers, encouraged, paid and worked hand in hand with them to seize land, and who have sent troops to protect them or sit idly by as they rampage through Palestinian towns, destroying houses, burning crops and shooting and harassing people simply for walking in their own streets and fields or sleeping in their own beds.

Last week, speaking on the BBC, Mustafa Natshe, the Mayor of Hebron reported that 29 of his citizens had been injured and twelve houses burned in a settler rampage. Such events occur almost daily but are almost never reported in the western media.

It is Israeli state policy to promote and protect the settlers, who represent the most racist and extremist element in Israel. Let us recall that after Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians in Hebron in 1994, Israel punished the Palestinians in the city, placing them under near permanent curfew, while the settlers continued to roam with Uzis and prayer shawls hanging at their waists.

It is also hard to count the number of times that settlers have been let off without punishment, or with only symbolic sentences for the mere crime of murdering Palestinians. The message is clear: before the settlers, Palestinian life, rights and property do not exist, and before the Israeli government whether of “left” or “right,” the settlers can do no wrong.

But if the condemnations of Sharon, Peres and “Fuad” Ben Eliezer are as sincere as the words of a gangster preaching respect for the law, they are much more hypocritical. For these three men are butchers who between them have murdered thousands and thousands of people whose chief crime is to refuse to disppear so that Zionism can spread on their land. There is nothing that the settlers have done that each of them has not done in far larger measure.

And there is now nothing at all the Zionists have not tried for one hundred years in order to crush the Palestinians and liquidate their rights: ethnic cleansing, massacres and indiscriminate terror, and wars of aggression against Arab states. Palestinians have lived in refugee camps for fifty three years. They have been divided from loved ones by barbed war and minefields. From Gaza to Lebanon they have been bombed, starved, tortured, assassinated, had their houses destroyed on their heads, and had their land bulldozed from under them. The images of 1948 that are alive in memories and in scratchy newsreels are reenacted every day in full color on Al-Jazira and in the lives of Palestinians from Rafah to Shuafat to Nazareth. The world has been told Palestinians are terrorists, cockroaches, lice, Jew-haters, Nazis or that they do not exist. There is not one thing that the worst colonial states did not try against native peoples that Israel has not tried, including “negotiating” the kinds of “peace treaties” that surviving Native Americans would well recognize. And yet, the Palestinians are still there.

Does Israel now think the Palestinians will give up because its tanks destroyed an electricity station and plunged Nablus into darkness for a few hours?

Every bullet, and every bomb, every mark made by the teeth of the bulldozer, though they kill and tear into land and flesh, will tie Palestinians closer to their land and to each other and be turned into lead, steel and fire in our hearts and backbones strengthening us in the struggle for justice.

Zionism has the strengh of the gun. Palestinians have the strength of steadfastness, and there is no weapon yet devised that can defeat that.

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