Jul 19,2017 – JORDAN TIMES – Hasan Abu Nimah
Last Friday, there was an attack in Jerusalem. Three Israeli Palestinian young men opened fire on Israeli forces near Bab Al Asbat, the gate in the Jerusalem Old City wall that leads to Al Haram Al Sharif.
Two Israeli officers were killed, while another was injured. All three Palestinian attackers were chased into Al Haram courtyard and shot dead by Israeli soldiers.
As is typical, Israel reacted by closing the Muslim holy place and preventing worshippers from performing the Friday prayer; an extreme unnecessary measure that caused outrage in Jordan in particular, for blatantly violating the terms of the Hashemite custodianship over Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy places.
Judging from the way the media, locally and internationally, reacted to the Jerusalem incident, one would have thought the attack, and even the closure of the Islamic site, were the first of their kind.
Oddly so, “unprecedented” was widely used in reference to an act of violence that has been steadily and regularly happening for at least 50 years.
All kinds of violence have been occurring in the occupied Palestinian territories since the West Bank, East Jerusalem included, was occupied by Israel in June 1967; either in the form of Palestinian resistance or routine Israeli occupation forces’ crackdown on any Arab anti-occupation move.
But it seems that when odd situations in history last long, people get used to them, to the point where they become familiar stable realities.
That probably explains why we all fail to see the occupation as the cause of the ongoing violence, tending instead to see every act, such as the Friday one, as something unusual, odd, shocking, disrupting the peace of both the Israelis and the Palestinians; committed by murderers and terrorists driven by nothing except hatred and aimless thirst for blood.
For convenience and deliberate distraction, Israel often describes such attacks as religiously motivated, linking them to the weird ideology of extremist terrorist organisations, Daesh in particular, claiming, as such, that Palestinian attackers primarily target Israelis for being Jews rather than occupiers.
At a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris days ago, Netanyahu said: “The zealots of militant Islam, who seek to destroy you [in France], seek to destroy us as well.”
On the basis of a prevailing failure to see reality as it is, opting for delusional perceptions instead, such acts are mostly seen as totally isolated and senseless crimes that deserve no scrutiny.
Scrutiny, in fact, lands its authors in trouble, as they are often accused of justifying terror by attributing it to a cause.
International law endorses the right of occupied people to resist occupation and seek liberation of their land by legitimate means that do not exclude armed resistance and violence.
Actions of liberation movements, however, are not always clean. They could involve atrocities, deplorable attacks on civilians and outright terror. That should be condemned irrespective of the cause.
Acts of terror were widely committed — actually were first introduced in the region — by underground Jewish organisations fighting against the British and the Arabs in Palestine in the first half of the last century in what the Zionists call the “war of independence”.
Accordingly, the right to resist occupation applies to the Palestinians who continue to suffer under the longest occupation in history, without any visible hope that it would one day end.
But they are denied this right. They are only supposed to wait until the three-decade-old peace process, which has only been reaping one colossal failure after the other, does them justice.
They see their land being confiscated and built upon for Jewish settlers; they endure hardships and humiliation at the hands of their occupiers; they are subjected to abrupt Israeli soldiers’ incursions into their dwellings and homes to detain or even shoot wanted Palestinians without any kind of protection.
Palestinians are often forced to evacuate their homes so that they can be demolished to make room for new colonies, or because they did not obtain occupiers’ permit to build on their own land. And yet they just have to be quiet and wait.
That is to say nothing about Gaza, where 2 million people have been for over a decade under the tightest and the cruellest siege in known history, deprived of the simplest means of survival such as drinking water, medical needs, electricity and food.
That also is hardly noted by the so-called international community in its entirety. And also in Gaza, the population, which on top of it all that had survived three devastating Israeli wars causing massive death and destruction, has to suffer quietly and wait.
The Palestinians cannot exercise their legitimate right to rebel against such conditions, even peacefully, lest they be condemned as terrorists.
International law requirements are mere fantasy. The words: resistance, freedom fighters and or patriotic struggle for liberation, self-determination and dignity have totally disappeared from the political lexicon as far as the Palestinians are concerned.
They have been replaced wherever found by the words: terror, terrorism, terrorists, Islamic terrorists or Islamic fanatic extremists.
Most of the Palestinians who reject the occupation are either declared terrorists or potential terrorists.
Most crimes nowadays are labelled as acts of terror. This is convenient because once labelled so they are automatically and instantly condemned.
As expected, the Friday attack in Jerusalem was condemned, first by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who instantly called Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu expressing condemnation.
The EU foreign policy spokesperson and the UN representative in Jerusalem also condemned the attack, describing it as an act of terror.
Ritual condemnations, however, are of little practical value; first for being some kind of spontaneous response aimed at appeasing the Israelis; and second because they have no deterrent effect.
What is needed is a serious global effort to address the root causes of the spreading phenomenon of lethal violence; that is striking indiscriminately everywhere.
Most of those who reach the decision to commit such acts know beforehand that they would not escape alive.
Once people reach that point of desperation, what is needed is a much more serious consideration of the phenomenon rather than condemnation.
Israel resorts to much more severe punishment measures that involve families and relatives. This does not work either.
It is the occupation and the occupation’s measures that are driving people to suicidal violence.
Neither labelling it as terror, nor punishing it as terror seems to be helping.
The only way is to recognise the occupation as an existing reality that cannot be retained.
So long as the occupation stays, violence will continue to grow, intensify and become more lethal.
This is a fact of history. Denial will not make it disappear.