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Israel, Terrorism And My People

by   Ramzy Baroud

 Middle East News Online, 10 December 2001 

Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG),  globalresearch.ca,  10 December 2001

SEATTLE, Washington - To merely describe a young Palestinian man who blows himself on a busy street or as he rides in a crowded bus as simply "evil", "wicked" and "terrorist", portrays a severe lack of understanding regarding the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

For decades the Middle East has been governed by such shallowness, and for decades the pain and hurt continue. If we had had the courage to confront the problem, the carnage may have ended long ago.

Many world leaders who rushed with poetic and unmatched condemnation of the "Palestinian terror" alleged that they were "shocked" by the news of suicide bombings in Western Jerusalem and the northern town of Haifa, which claimed the lives of 24 Israelis and wounded dozens. Yet I remember, in an article, following the massacre of 10 Palestinians by Israeli troops upon their invasion of a Palestinian village, Beit Rima, in West Bank last October, I concluded with the following paragraph: "The virtual silence before these Israeli crimes is likely to be soon replaced by the angry question: 'Why do Palestinians blow themselves up?' But here you have it. It's the making of a new massacre, the making of more Palestinian orphans and widows and the making of more suicide bombers." Indeed, nothing was shocking about the suicide bombings, nor did I have an ingenious idea when I predicted such a Palestinian response; it is human nature to respond to horror conducted against one with similar horror; if we don't admit such a truth, we shall forever be caught in this deadlock.

But let us track the events that preceded the bombings and see if we are still as shocked. The Western media traces the escalation of violence and the subsequent Israeli invasion of six Palestinian towns in the West Bank to Oct. 17, when Israeli hardline minister Rehavam Zeevi was gunned down in a Jerusalem hotel.

Yet, as always, mainstream media, especially in the United States, failed to live up to the traditional requirement of journalism: honesty. The recent wave of violence should have been traced to the assassination by Israeli missiles of one of the most renowned Palestinian political leaders, Mustafa Al Zabri in his office in Ramallah a few weeks before the retaliatory assassination of the Israeli minister.

While Al Zabri's death was described by US officials as "not helpful," and the Western media depicted the man as a "militant", all hell broke lose when the Israeli minister was killed in response. Israel was then urged to show "restraint". Palestinian National Authority President Yasser Arafat was cornered. "It's time for deeds not words", he was told, "rein in the terrorists," Israel ordered.

Then there was a period of virtuous silence on the part of the American officials, of course not including the routine demand of Palestinians "to stop the violence" and of Arafat "to crack down on militants", and of Israel to "show constraint." But what is extremely disturbing is that an estimated 160 Palestinians have been murdered by Israel since then, killings that devastated entire communities and battered the remaining hope for peace; but strangely enough, the US found such killings not worthy of mention.

Then it was the start of the Holy Month of Ramadan; news reports coming from the occupied territories cited few violent incidents in the early days of Ramadan. It seemed as if the Palestinians were about to enjoy a period of quiet, to reflect and to enjoy the month of fasting. Unfortunately, the opposite was true. It was clear that Israel's Prime Minster Sharon was keen on in provoking violence. He knew too well that the US was about to increase pressure on both him and Arafat to revive the stagnant peace talks.

The most successful method that the man has used to prove that peace with the Palestinians is not possible, is to aggravate Palestinians and make them retaliate; and when they do, their retaliation is what the world remembers; everything prior to the so- called "Palestinian violence" is forgotten.

Let's have a quick review of the last ten days prior to the suicide bombings.

On Nov. 22, five Palestinian children from the same family were blown to pieces by an Israeli army bomb while on their way to school in the Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis.

Western condemnation of the killings was hardly reported.

On Nov. 23, 15-year-old Wael Radwan was shot by Israeli troops in his way to the local graveyard with a crowd of Palestinian mourners to bury the five children. No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

On Nov. 23, Israeli tank shells exploded on the Beit Iba road near Nablus, killing two cousins, both named Mohamed Samaineh. No condemnation of the killings was reported in the Western world. Also on Nov. 23, Israel assassinated top Palestinian activists Mohammed Abu Hannoud and two brothers, Aymen and Mamoun Hasaikeh, in Taluza near Nablus. No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

More murders followed in Nov. 23, when Mohamed Hinawi was killed when Israel shelled a taxi cab filled with passengers near Rafah. No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

On Nov. 25, Kifah Ebied from Dheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem was killed by an Israeli sniper near a mosque. No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

On Nov. 28, 80-year-old Mousa Galami was intentionally run over by a settler's car in Nablus. No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world. Rami Mansour from Gaza was killed by four Israeli bullets on Nov. 29. No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world. Rashad Mhna and Hassan Zbeidi were both killed in their cars near a checkpoint when Israel opened fire on Palestinian vehicles near the Jordanian border, on Nov. 29. No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

Mohamed Shahlah, 10, and Rami Asous were killed on Dec. 1; Mohamed was in his house when an Israeli shell claimed his life and Rami was in a taxi cab returning home. No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

The murder of Palestinians at the hand of an invading army, backed by a racist government policy that legitimises the murder of innocent people, managed to escape us, as if such news were as routine as weather and sports. Many Western agencies failed to report the killings or mention the names of the victims, only using Israel's narration where every Palestinian killed is somehow a "militant" who poses a threat to the state of Israel.

Should there just be a return to the comfort zone, where "Palestinian terrorism" is condemned in the strongest terms, or should there, for once, be tracking of violence to its real roots and holding of its perpetrators accountable? In truth, I am not seeking a mere condemnation of Israeli terrorism. I am seeking the end of the occupation and freedom for my people, the refugees, the victims and the misunderstood.

2001 Middle East News Online.

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