In a recent issue of the Washington Post there was a sanctimonious and condescending piece about people wondering why a sixteen year old Palestinian boy would stab and kill an Israeli woman. The headline reads: “A Palestinian teen killed an Israeli mom. Now both families struggle with why.” The story was datelined “Otniel, West Bank”. Need we look any further for a response to “why”? The Israeli family was living in a settlement home built on occupied land, stolen land, land taken from Palestinians who had owned it for centuries, land now populated by the thieves themselves, in violation of international law. The Israeli woman was killed by a boy whose family and whose people are daily humiliated at dozens of checkpoints, randomly slaughtered by an unaccountable military, who cannot move freely, who have no basic human rights, who have no livelihood, who have had their homes razed and their orchards and grazing land bulldozed and taken over by their occupiers and exist in daily fear for their lives. And we dare wonder “why”?
And the Haaretz of the west, the New York Times, is still after three weeks running a video story called “Shampoo Summit”, about Israeli and “Arab” women chatting and gossiping in a Haifa beauty parlor, which again, like dozens of sickening similar cliche stories about Israeli and Palestinian people amicably interacting or their children happily playing together while their elders wring their hands, look to the sky, wag their heads or stroke their chins and wonder “why can’t we get along?”, “why isn’t there peace?” If we’re getting along here in the beauty parlor and our children are playing together, what could be wrong? The video is simply more of the same sickening theme – a little microcosm of questioning and honest exchanges of feeling, a little island of normalcy masquerading as an excuse to keep stealing land and killing Palestinians. And how interesting that “Arab” is used in this positive context instead of “Palestinian”, further obfuscating the truth, because “Palestinian” is always reserved for the pejorative. The two main American print apologists for Israel, the New York Times and the Washington Post, are serial purveyors of “feel-good” stories like this because they mask, trivialize and smooth over the real story of the cruel application of the raw power of this US supported renegade nation.
And furthermore I’ll tell you why there isn’t peace. Despite the empty pledges from Israeli leaders that “we’ll negotiate anytime and anywhere” or the lame refrain that they “have no partner for peace”, the real reason that Israel for 67 years has refused to conclude negotiations and support the creation of a Palestinian state, is simply this: If there were suddenly an ironclad peace treaty, the end of the occupation and a Palestinian state, Israel could no longer steal land. That’s it in a nutshell. While dozens of peace talk efforts over multiple decades have failed, Israel has steadily and inexorably extended its hold on the most valuable West Bank land, solidified its control of the aquifers under that land, destroyed dozens of Palestinian villages, razed hundreds of homes and wantonly destroyed olive orchards and vineyards to build illegal settlements for the illegal occupiers to live in. Israel’s lust and hunger for all of “Eretz Israel” is no secret and has been reflected in its land theft for the last fifty years. And by the way, why the term “settlers”, which connotes valiant pioneers on a wild frontier? These interlopers are nothing more than vile thieves, stealing land owned and occupied by another people while protected by the third most powerful military on earth with blessings from the first.
And regarding peace, please spare me the nonsense that I have been assaulted with for years about Yasser Arafat refusing the “best offer ever” from Israel when Bill Clinton had pulled Ehud Barak and Arafat together in 2000. This is a myth, peddled successfully by the pro-Israel press for years. That so called “best offer” would have legitimized virtual bantustans in the West Bank, a Palestinian “state” reflecting Israeli apartheid, honeycombed by dozens of Israeli settlements and sliced up by private Israeli-only thoroughfares, yielding a totally unrecognizable and ungovernable “state” and still a mere vassal of Israel. Arafat was right to reject this “best offer” proffered by Israel’s negotiators and their American lackeys.
The reader may ask why the writer feels so passionately about these issues. This is why – I have known Palestinians intimately….I have had Palestinian friends and Palestinian students…I have heard firsthand about sorrowful and horrible events perpetrated by Israeli occupiers. How many of you have known Palestinians? At the American School of Kuwait where it was my pleasure to work for four years, the Arabic Department, which taught required Arabic to all students K-12, was composed almost entirely of displaced Palestinians. These were some of the more fortunate few actually, because they had decent jobs and rented homes in Kuwait. But without exception these people had a story to tell – about a lost home or farm, about a family forever severed, about the heart wrenching horror of bombs and gunfire and the death of family members, about fleeing their village or town in terror as their homes and villages were invaded and occupied by the “Israeli Defense Forces” (what “defense”? These were and still are offensive forces of invasion and occupation!). Our Palestinian teachers had pictures of the homes, farms and villages in which they lived and worked, the places they had owned now owned and occupied by Israelis (by what right, by what law, pray tell?). They also displayed pictures of friends and loved ones killed by the invaders and occupiers.
Indeed, by what authority exactly does the state of Israel invade, seize and occupy land owned by another people? None really, for the state of Israel has been a reckless, unruly and lawless violator of international law since its founding in 1947. International law requires occupiers to care for people and property and allow refugees to return to their homes; it forbids the acquisition of territory, expulsion of population, colonization of conquered territory, collective punishment, home demolition and deprivation of fundamental rights and freedoms. All of the above are violated by the rogue state of Israel.
So although I cannot justify violence and killing, I for one, never wonder “why” a Palestinian gets angry enough to do something drastic – to reclaim a tiny bit of dignity, a shred of independence, a spark of self determination, a spasm of strength, a hint of revenge – in a deplorable act like that committed in the illegal Otniel settlement in the Palestinian West Bank.