Israel/Palestine: Moving Beyond the Oppressed/Oppressor Paradigm

Israel/Palestine: Moving Beyond the Oppressed/Oppressor Paradigm

Every fence has two sides, a Palestinian friend once said. Photo by Joshua Tartakovsky 2015 (All Rights Reserved).

By Joshua Tartakovsky, 21 January 2016

A Palestinian murdered another Israeli. Only that, as usual, the human rights advocates will find an excuse for this murder too.

The Palestinian man in question must have been “oppressed.” After all, all humans are equally the same and all humans have the same motives, particularly those motives that scholars at Princeton and Berkeley, or perhaps Columbia, with very little real life experience, subscribe to them.

Dafna Meir, Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

This past Sunday night, a Palestinian man entered the home of Dafna Meir, a mother of six children, who lives in a settlement in South Hebron Hills in the West Bank (yes, one that is illegal according to international law, as if anyone actually keeps it).

Meir was a neurosurgical nurse in Beersheba and a mother of six. She struggled physically with the attacker. He stabbed her very badly until he killed her. The teenage daughter watched.

Let’s not deny that it takes an incredible amount of cruelty to kill a mother by stabbing her over and over again.

Of course, the apologists for the argument that whatever Palestinians or Arabs do is legitimate, will argue that the Israeli army also kills civilians all the time and that the Palestinian was ‘defending himself.’

There is no denying that the Israeli army bombs Gaza heavily every few years killing hundreds of children, and that in its war in South Lebanon tens of thousands, both civilians and soldiers, were killed.

There are also testimonies that Israeli soldiers fired at women in Gaza, following obedientlyorders, when the people at question were deemed a security risk.

But from the perspective of Israeli soldiers, their actions do make sense. They see themselves as protecting the only home they have and as engaging not in aggression but in defense, killing those who pose a threat to them. Of course, their response is often disproportionate but they are a tiny country surrounded by many enemies, and seek to make a point that any attack will be responded to severely each time, precisely since they feel insecure.  Even when there are mistakes and innocents are shot, it is not as if the Israeli soldiers seek to kill as many people as possible. If that were the case, there would be far more casualties.

Israelis do not invade other countries in order to kill as many as possible. They took over a land, a place that they deem historically theirs after centuries and millennia of exile, and when attacked, they respond brutally.

But what kind of excuse is there for Palestinian actions? After all, in the post-modern simplified and intellectually lazy European left perspective, everything the “oppressed” does is justified.

Well, let us examine some Palestinian actions:

In March 26, 2001, a Palestinian sniper fires accurately at a 10 month old baby, killing her, in al Khalil-Hebron, the city of the Patriarchs. He could have fired at her father, an adult, but he preferred to kill the baby.

Needless to say, there is a difference between bombing a civilian area after rockets were fired from there, and intentionally shooting accurately at a baby. The post-modern pundits will argue there is no difference between the two. But from the perspective of the one enacting the action, there is. Doing the former requires a degree of cruelty while in the latter it is justified as a necessary evil. To the argument that Palestinians must resist, the answer/question would be: is killing babies resistance? And to the answer, well they had no choice, the question is, are soldiers not better targets?

Let us move ahead. In March 2011, two Palestinian youth enter a Jewish settlement and stab a 3 months old baby to death, also stabbing to death the father (age 36), the mother (35), and two of the brothers (ages 11 and 4).

Of course, this must also be ‘resistance.’ And indeed, was praised as such by the Palestinian TV.

But let’s examine the facts regarding the settlements: they were established on lands often confiscated from Palestinians, and Palestinians live under a military occupation which means they do not enjoy freedom of movement in certain areas and are confined to living in certain areas with water often limited. All wrong, of course. But does this justify butchering a baby? Do people have really no self-control?

And then the recent stabbing wave in Jerusalem.  Two Palestinian girls stab an elderly man in Jerusalem, who in fact was Palestinian, with scissors. This was also supposedly also due to the occupation, only that the two girls live in Jerusalem and were wearing their school backpacks. Avideo of the event reveals the insanity. They first looked for a victim, than decided after a long period of waiting that the elderly man was a good fit. This indicates cruelty, most certainly not a reaction to oppression.  Why would girls do such a thing? They may have brainwashed by watching religious incitement. But stabbing an elderly man is not ‘resistance.’

There were other instances recently, of a Palestinian man running over non-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jews, than leaving his car and stabbing them with an ax while the victims were lying on the floor, of a 13 years old Palestinian boy stabbing another 13 years old Israeli boy, and many otherinstances of stabbing.

But Palestinians presented to the world only the videos and pictures of Palestinian stabbers being shot by the police, claimed that they were shot out of the blue for no reason, that the knives were planted on them, that they did not stab anyone or that their stabbings were only “alleged” although there are videos.

Many saw the agonizing video, presented by Palestinians, of a Palestinian child left to bleed after he was shot. Only that it was not mentioned that he was shot after he stabbed another boy. As usual, a proper context was lacking. It was also not mentioned that the boy received treatment in an Israeli hospital later (although it is true people yelled at him and cursed him shortly earlier while lying down).

Israel was condemned by the know-it-all Amnesty International for extrajudicial killings. The same out-of-touch Amnesty International that condemns the Syrian government and serves as a pretext for imperial invasions. So far, the Western intervention in support of terrorism in Syria (terrorism which Israel also supports) against the legitimate government of Dr. Bashar al Assad has resulted in at least 160,000 -180,000 people getting killed.  But Amnesty International prefers to focus on Israel or on the Syrian Government. In Syria, its distortions have already been pointed out.

Let’s be clear. Israel does kill stabbers or those of suspected of stabbing. That may very well be illegal. Israel reacts harshly to any perceived danger. And Israel occupies millions of people in the West Bank and Gaza. There is no denial of these facts.

But, while Israel does commit many crimes that does not justify killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinians, crimes which Western liberals have willingly served as apologists for. Also, Israel does not just shoot innocent Palestinians in the street. Stabbers are shot.

There is a major issue here many critics of opponents of Israel tend to miss. While it is most certainly true that Israel has been brutal in its occupation of the West Bank, it is not as if Palestinian terrorism started in 1967. Indeed, Palestinians stabbed Israeli civilians in 1947, even before the founding of Israel. What was the justification for that?

The case of Israel cannot be fully understood as a simple case of Western colonialism.  Once this issue is clarified, events make more sense.

First, for many Jews Israel is their only home. The Jews are not foreign implants but did come originally from the Holy Land, lived in exile for many centuries and now returned to their ancient homeland.  Their historical connection to the land cannot be denied.

Dafna Meir, Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Some may argue that not all Jews are real Jews whose forefathers have come from the biblical land. That may or may not be true. But these Jews, fake or not, were still prosecuted in Europe, saw themselves part of an historical continuity, joined the existing Jewish tribe one way or another, and needed a safe home no one else was willing to provide. The Holy Land is ripple with historical landmarks of the Jewish people. Only mad muftis deny the Temple ever existed.

That the Zionist Jews obtained a land by expelling the Palestinians, some of whom may themselves be descendents of Jews, is by now well known.  That Israel relied on colonial powers and colonial methods to achieve its goals, is also evident.

Egypt’s great anti-colonialist leader, Gamal Abdel Nassar, famously said: “I cannot respect the current Jews because they left Israel black and came back white.” But he did not deny that the Jews originally came from the land, even if they returned in the wrong way.

Indeed, to suggest that Israel is  a simple case of white colonialism, or to deny the Jewish historical connection to the Land of Israel/Palestine, which seems to be the claim the fanatical advocates of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign make, is to chose a simple answer for a very complex reality.

Of course, not many people know how to deal with the State of Israel. It is a very unusual case of an ancient people returning to their ancient homeland while committing grave crimes in the process. But looking only at one side and denying Jewish links to the land, is a willful act of ignorance.

Moreover, I do not think that Israelis enjoy this current situation in which the Palestinians are occupied.  For one, soldiers tend to follow orders. That is what soldiers do. No one really enjoys being in this situation. Soldiers would rather be at home with their girlfriends than in the West Bank.  In addition, many Israelis genuinely believe there is no other alternative to the current predicament and that their security can only come via the barrel of the gun.

But the most important issue is that the Israelis are deeply traumatized by decades of war, and thousands of years of persecution and violence. They are unable to reflect on deeper underlying issues, are deeply brainwashed by their own corporate media and are ruled by a military-industrial complex.

Millennia of homelessness and exile caused Israelis to attach themselves to the area with such desperation and to engage in what they see as self-defense with such brutality while being blind to the humanity of the people whose homes they took.

Simple common sense would dictate to the Palestinians that you cannot win over a traumatized people that has long suffered from violence by inflicting more violence on them. It just makes no sense.

Indeed, despite a century of violence, the Jews are not going anywhere.  Most Israelis have become even more stubborn.  Palestinians continued to use violence although this method failed over and over again and even as Israel responded harshly each time.  (It is true that there have also been peaceful protests but these are a minority. And honor killing – the killing of girls who lose their virginity by family members – among Palestinians inside Israel indicates that not everything can be blamed on the occupation).

What use does stabbing civilians serve then and how is it a legitimate goal? How is stabbing a child or an elderly a response to “oppression”?  But for blind Western supporters of the Palestinian cause critical thinking is not needed.

What Palestinians have also historically failed to realize is that denying Israelis’ historical roots to the land and ignoring the fact that they have nowhere else to go, will not win the Israelis over either.

Israel too, in its occupation of the Palestinians, has no achieved peace or full security.

But even if one ignores the senseless Palestinian actions against Israeli civilians, Palestinians have taken other irrational and counterproductive actions that BDS activists who support Palestine tend to ignore or even join.  Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently came to the defense of Saudi Arabia after its brutal killing of Shia Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Hamas turned its back on Iran after years of the latter’s dedicated support to the besieged Gaza Strip and joined Qatar by providing moral support to terrorism in Syria and to the attempt to destroy a secular, multicultural Syria. Many Palestinians despise Hezbollah, the only guerilla organization that managed to defeat the militarily – superior Israel, protects Lebanon from an Israeli invasion and bravely liberates churches in Syria from the hands of Western-supported mad takfiris. Hezbollah is disliked by many Palestinians just because it is Shia. It should be noted that Hezbollah and Iran did more for the Palestinians than any other Arab state or organization.

One may rightly wonder why some Europeans and Westerners prefer to focus only on Israel, when Turkey carries out far worse crimes in Syria through its support for Islamic jihadists and towards the Kurds at home.  Saudi Arabia is hardly innocent and of course the United States Empire has caused the death of millions around the world.

Some may argue that Israel needs to be judged by its own actions and that crimes elsewhere are no excuse. This is true. At the same time, Israel is located in a particular geographic region which is not exactly known for its peacefulness and Turkey is also supported by the West just as Saudi Arabia is. It is true that the European Zionists weren’t the most accommodating people and that they got the colonial powers to support their cause, but Palestinians should have later realized that violence committed against a traumatized people, long accustomed to being a victim of violence, will not get them anywhere.

The argument here is not that Israel is perfect, or that it was not founded via colonial methods.  Israel currently supports jihadists in Syria, supported various dictatorships in Latin America, and constantly votes at the UN for the continuation of the illegal blockade against Cuba.

Indeed, while Israel may be partially forgiven for reacting harshly to attacks in light of its history of trauma and suffering, its international crimes have no excuse.

However, what critics of Israel continuously fail to realize is that the Jews do belong to the Holy Land and are originally from there. They deserve and need a home.

What such a home may look is a different question. It is true that by aligning itself with imperial powers -an act of betrayal to the proud Jewish legacy of resisting imperialism as exemplified by the Sicarii revolt against the Roman Empire in Masada around 73 AD and the Maccabees’ revolt against the Greeks circa 167 BC-  Israel is standing on a very low moral ground.

But many on the Western Left often forget the fact that the Israelis are traumatized, that Palestinians have also committed many mistakes, and that stabbing is not justifiable and should not be covered up.  “Human rights” also applies to the Israelis.

While Israel is an ally of Western imperialism and committed international terrorism on numerous occasions and while Israel was created via violence and by the expulsion of Palestinian residents of the land, this does not diminish the historical, cultural and religious connection the Jews have to the Holy Land and their right to live there in peace.