Rami G. Khouri
There is something terribly inaccurate in describing 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 85 years, since the early 1930s that marked the start of communal attacks between Zionist Jews 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 order created by the Israeli occupation, colonization, exploitation, siege and subjugation of Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem since 1967?
It is equally pitiful to hear that members of the Quartet, comprising the United States, the United Nations, 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 67 injured, while 27 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis and 1,400 injured. Israeli troops have kidnapped another 400 mostly young Palestinians and have held them, in most cases without pressing charges.
The order and calm that Palestinians have experienced while living under the constant threat of Israeli guns saw Ahmad Sharaka, a 13-year-old boy, die after he was shot in the neck by Israeli forces opening 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 Sharaka happened just outside Beit El, a Jewish settlement near Ramallah, one of those settlements recognized as an illegal crime globally because it contravenes the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition on a conquering power’s moving its civilians into territory occupied during 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, vigilant settlers and urban lynch mobs, for their part, kill Palestinian Arabs in many ways – shooting them in the back, burning them alive in their beds at home, beating them to death in city streets, pouring kerosene down their throats and lighting it. However, the double tragedy is that all these Zionist-Israeli 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 with no rights, who have no thoughts, no lives, and 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, sieges, semistarvation, forced exile, regular assassinations, mass incarceration, the demolition of homes, refusing permits to build new homes, limiting access to water sources, restricting commercial flows, withholding collected tax monies, expanding Zionist colonies and settlements, Judaizing Jerusalem and other Palestinian places. Everything Israel has done to turn the Palestinians into passive, docile cretins has failed. But the heavily armed Israelis keep killing and killing and killing, before complaining that the Palestinians who are resisting being killed, exiled and colonized are engaging in incitement; and then they return to killing some more.
One day soon we will see a young Palestinian girl 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 one day 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 by THE DAILY STAR. He can be followed on Twitter @RamiKhouri.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 14, 2015, on page 7.