There is something terribly inaccurate in discussing the latest upsurge in violence between Israelis and Palestinians as another upsurge in violence. How many time have we heard that phrase in the last eighty-five years, since the early 1930s that marked the start of communal attacks between Zionist Jews and Israelis, on the one hand, and Palestinian Arabs on the other?
There is something both comic and tragic about the American secretary of state telephoning the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and asking them to restore order. Order? What order? The Israeli occupation, colonization, exploitation, siege, and subjugation of Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem since 1967 order?
It is equally pitiful to hear that members of the “Quartet” comprising the United States, UN, Russia, and the European Union will travel to the area this week to see if they can restore order. Order? What order? The order we witness during this month of October to date? The month is less than half finished and it has seen four Israelis killed by Palestinians and sixty-seven injured, while twenty-seven Palestinians were killed by Israelis and 1,400 injured. Israelis troops kidnapped another four hundred mostly young Palestinians and have held them in most cases without pressing charges.
The order and calm that Palestinians experience living under the constant threat of Israeli guns saw Ahmad Sharaka, a thirteen-year-old, die after he was shot in the neck with live ammunition by Israeli forces that opened fire on Palestinian demonstrators. Palestinians typically throw stones to express their refusal to be perpetually occupied or herded like cattle in their penned up areas. This killing of Ahmad Sharaka happened just outside Beit El, a Jewish-only settlement near Ramallah, a settlement that the entire world recognizes as an illegal crime because it contravenes the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition of a conquering power moving its civilians into the territory it occupied in war.
It is a crime against rational language and thought to speak of “restoring calm” and “reducing the violence” in a situation like this where the Israelis are the occupiers, tormentors, colonizers, and mass killers of mostly defenseless Palestinians who are largely leaderless and unprotected by international law. The recurring killings and injuries by both sides—remember, the kill ratio is around 6 to 1, and the injuries ratio is around 21 to 1 in favor of Israel—reflect the deep imbalance and injustice that define this situation.
The Palestinians in Jerusalem especially, but also in other places where they live under Zionist occupation or rule, find themselves without any leadership, protection, or rights. After decades of this condition, desperate individuals have little to live for. They risk death by killing individual Israeli soldiers, occupiers, or settlers mostly, by any available means, usually kitchen knives or cars. Having been dehumanized by Zionist-Israeli modern history that refuses to come to terms with the Palestinians’ national rights to live in peace and sovereignty in their own land, more and more Palestinians who undertake such killings have started to reflect their dehumanized condition by acting like animals in the jungle.
Israeli troops, vigilante settlers, and urban lynch mobs, for their part, kill Palestinian Arabs in many ways—shooting them in the back with rifles and pistols, burning them alive in their beds at home, beating and shooting them to death in city streets, pouring kerosene down their throats and lighting it—but the double tragedy is also that all these Zionist-Israeli death innovations continue to prove ineffective in quelling the Palestinian need to live free. The Israelis have tried every possible means of turning the Palestinians into passive and captive invisible people who have no rights, who have no thoughts, who have no lives, who are worth no more than a piece of dirt.
But the Zionist-Israelis are stumped, because everything they have tried since the 1940s has not worked—occupation, ethnic cleansing, massacres, curfews, walls, drones, massive military destruction, siege, semi-starvation, forced exile, regular assassinations, mass incarceration, blowing up homes, refusing permits to build new homes, limiting access to water sources, restricting commerce flows, withholding collected tax monies, expanding Zionist colonies and settlements, Judaizing Jerusalem and other Palestinian places—everything Israel has tried to turn the Palestinians into passive and docile cretins has not worked. But the heavily armed Israelis keep killing, and killing, and killing, and then they also complain that the Palestinians who resist being killed, exiled, and colonized are engaging in incitement, and then they get back to killing some more.
One day soon we will see a young Palestinian girl of perhaps fifteen years old sneak into an Israeli air force base and attack an F-16 jet fighter with a kitchen knife. That will be the signal to all that there is no order to restore in Palestine and Israel in these conditions, other than the order of the insanity of free-for-all killing—until another day when more sensible leaders, supported by an ethical rather than a derelict international community, come along and seriously work to shape a new order that recognizes the equal national rights of Israelis and Palestinians.
Rami G. Khouri is published twice weekly in the Daily Star. He was founding director and now senior policy fellow of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. On Twitter @ramikhouri.
Copyright ©2015 Rami G. Khouri — distributed by Agence Global