By Ray Hanania
Violence is not the answer to the endless conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, and the loss of life is always regrettable and tragic regardless of the ethnicity or nationality of the victims. But until there is a genuine effort by Israel’s government to embrace peace based on compromise, and to recognize the rights of Palestinians as Palestinians have recognized the rights of Israelis, no one should be surprised that violence there continues.
Violence happens in every country and every city in the world. You can reduce violence but it is a fact that you can never stop it. Chicago, for example, had nearly 800 homicides in 2021, or more than 2 killings per day. And yet, unlike in Israel and Palestine where violence is fueled by religion and national identity, Chicago is not under a military occupation that discriminates against people based on religion and national origin.
Diaa Hamarsheh, 27, a Palestinian from the village of Yabad in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was shot and killed by Israeli security forces last week after he shot and killed five Israelis. Israel immediately arrested Hamarsheh’s relatives and will probably destroy his family’s home and property, a practice that is just as criminal as anything Hamarsheh may have done.
The next day, Israeli soldiers attacked a Palestinian refugee camp near Jenin in the West Bank, and killed twoPalestinians and wounded 14 others for protesting against the raids.
US President Joe Biden offered his condolences to the families of Hamarsheh’s victims, and said there was a “terrorist threat,” but said nothing about the Israeli murders of the Palestinians.
What’s the difference between Hamarsheh killing Israelis and the Israelis killing Palestinians?
Why is there violence? Israel refuses to engage in negotiations to create a Palestinian state. Instead, it wants to continue to control the land it occupied in 1967, and is weighing plans to annex most of the West Bank to be a part of Israel.
Of course, when Israel says it will annex the West Bank they are talking only about annexing the land, whilecontinuing to exclude Palestinian civilians. Israel will take the land but continue to imprison Christians and Muslims in a racist apartheid system, and deny them citizens’ rights.
In an atmosphere of state violence against millions of oppressed civilians who are denied equal rights, would you not expect some of the oppressed to get angry, push back, and turn to violence?
Violence isn’t just coming from Christian and Muslim Arabs and Palestinians. It’s coming from Jews and Israelis too. But when an Israeli kills a Palestinian, the Israeli government slaps the offender’s wrist with a mild punishment, or often no punishment at all. They don’t arrest the family members of Israeli terrorists. They don’t destroy the homes of Israeli terrorists.
The media always downplays the significance of atrocities by Israelis. They don’t stereotype, demonize and slander an entire race or religion of Israelis or Jews because of the actions of one or two criminals, as they do to Palestinians and non-Jews. Israel and the media libel the entire Arab and Palestinian people for every single act, and call them all terrorists.
If Israel wants the violence to stop, then they need to stop their own violence too. If Israel wants the haters to stop hating, then Israelis need to stop hating too — because there is as much or even more hate coming from Jews and Israelis against Arabs than there is hate coming from Christian and Muslim Arabs and Palestinians.
End the violence? Yes. How do we do it? We end the racism. We end the discrimination. We end the double standards and hypocrisy and demonization and lies embraced by Israel and pro-Israel and biased Western news media.
It’s almost as if the Israelis don’t want to stop the violence. Israel’s government wants to stop and condemn Palestinian violence, but they don’t want to stop violence by Israelis. I think they want the violence. The violence allows them to reject peace, to justify their xenophobia and anti-Palestinian policies. Violence becomes their excuse.
Even when Palestinians renounce violence, Israel’s government turns to violence in order to provoke more violence, as they did when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin agreed to recognize Palestinian statehood and entered into negotiations to reach a two-state solution. Before the process got to the point of implementing a genuine peace, Yigal Amir, a 25-year-old Jewish settler fanatic inspired by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s extremist anti-peace rhetoric, murdered Rabin to stop the peace process.
In killing Rabin, Amir and the extremist politicians whom inspired him killed the peace movement and fueled more violence, which Israel’s extremists use as the pretext to deny peace or two states.
Violence allows many Israelis to justify in their own minds the continued theft of Palestinian lands, the continued denial of non-Jewish rights, and more importantly, to portray themselves as the “victims” and not the oppressors that they are.
If Israelis wants to avoid more violence, they need to end their violence first. Israel is the established recognized government in this conflict. The Palestinians are an occupied and oppressed people.