When I first became interested in the Israel/Palestine conflict, I recall the media would cover events in Tel Aviv or some other Israeli city as being illogical acts of violence inflicted predominantly on Jews. Surely there must be a reason, I thought. Someone doesn’t just decide to become a suicide bomber and take their own life for something to do.
I began to research further, thinking that every action causes a reaction, so what were the Palestinians reacting to? Not long after I began trying to understand it, I found this image.
I simply couldn’t believe that Israelis would be allowed to accumulate all this Arab land. The image above describes what happened, it doesn’t show the brutality, complete lack of empathy nor the sheer cruelty of how it came about. Particularly with regards to conflict or violence, I try to imagine how the victim would feel. I discovered the relatives of a suspected attacker would endure a brutal response. They could well be arrested and most certainly have their home demolished. This isn’t the reasoned, nor detached response to a crime that is expected from state authorities. It was a callous and immoral way for a government to react, no matter what the crime. The bombers family would almost certainly know nothing about what he was going to do. Suicide bombing isn’t a choice, it’s a sign of hopelessness. To carry it out is a final effort to try and make life better for those left behind. Collective punishment is one of the Israelis favoured responses.
How would we feel?
This dispossession and ethnic cleansing has been going on for decades in a world that has stood by and watched. This is the fault of the politicians who have known what has been going on but ignored it. The media have been thoroughly complicit too.
Many of the victims are nameless. Thousands of families homes have been bulldozed. thousands of people have been kidnapped in the middle of the night, including children. There are no trials, the Israelis decide if you are guilty when they smash your front door down. There is no fair legal system for the Palestinians, apart from ‘lip service justice’, created to appease the outside world. Israeli soldiers (and civilians) can kill Palestinians if or when they feel like it, with very minor, if any punishment at all. More often than not, there won’t even be a cursory investigation, unless it’s such a heinous crime that the Israelis can’t ignore it for fear of worldwide condemnation.
A website that does try to record all the crimes, whether committed by Israeli or Palestinian, is B’Tselem. It’s a human rights organisation that has no political axe to grind. Just a quick look over it reveals the most horrendous catalogue of crimes, the vast majority inflicted on the Palestinians.
It’s not just the blatant acts of terror inflicted on the Palestinians that cause so much distress. It’s the deliberate creation of circumstances to inhibit and restrict a normal life.
So, imagine you lived in one town and needed to travel to another town. Take your pick, they are all littered with checkpoints like this.
I doubt many people could cope with this type of system, having to be negotiated through numerous times a day. Unsympathetic soldiers, even gloating over the frustration in your attempts to continue a normal life. This isn’t for security, it’s to reiterate that THEY are in control and you will do as THEY say. The Nazis surely had the same mentality when they were herding their prisoners. Take what you will from that comparison.
The need for Palestinians to resist the occupation and discrimination is obvious. Whether it is violent or none violent, is up to them. Unless we have been subjected to these conditions and had to endure them on a daily basis, we have no right to tell them how to react. Considering their treatment at the hands of the Israelis, it’s abundantly clear that the Palestinians are extremely patient people. The Israeli dominance will not last forever, nothing ever does. When the balance of power does change, it would be very difficult to plead for mercy.