How We See Things

by Adam Keller of the Israeli Peace Bloc info@gush-shalom-org

Yesterday, there was a lynching in Ramallah, perpetrated by a Palestinian mob upon Israelis and costing two lives. It was quite clearly a lynching. Anybody living in the Old South of America would have recognized it as such.

Four days ago, there was a pogrom in Nazareth, perpetrated by a Jewish mob upon Arabs and costing two lives. It was quite clearly a pogrom. Anybody living in Czarist Russia would have recognized it as such.

Evidently, among both Israelis and Palestinians there is now an enormous hatred and wish to hurt the other side, two hatreds built up over a long period, despite the years of an official Peace Process which dismally failed in building up any real confidence or trust, bursting out now and feeding upon each other.

So far for the similarities and symmetry - so far, and no further. For Israelis and Palestinians are two manifestly unequal entities. There is a weak side and an enormously stronger one, oppressor and oppressed. There is a country possessing the strongest military force in the Middle East, tanks and helicopter gunships and a full arsenal of nuclear bombs, and there is a people whose armament consisted until recently of stones and which has now aquired some handguns. There is a country which has been sovereign for fifty-two years, a rich and prosperous country which is a full part of the industrialized West - and there is a poor Third World people who have been dispossessed and oppressed, given hope and put down again during these fifty-two years, who are striving with enormous persistance and unimaginable sacrifice for the right to be free in at least a fragment of their original homeland.

There is an occupation - an ugly occupation which is very much alive more than seven years after that historic handshake on the White House lawn which was supposed to bring it to an end, and which has a brutalizing and dehumanizing effect on all that it touches. An occupation which manifests itself in land confiscation and settlement extension, house demolition and uprooting of orchards and humiliating searches at checkpoints. An occupation which this very day manifests itself in helicopter gunships bombing towns which have no means of defending themselves, and in tanks placing a tight siege on a helpless civilian population.

It is the occupation which is the culprit, which breeds the hatred and the conflict. The victims - the Israelis and the much more numerous Palestinians - are all victims of the occupation. There is no assurance that the hatred will automatically disappear with the end of the occupation; but we can be certain that continuation of the occupation will lead to increase of the hatred.