Can new violence bring peace?
By Sam Bahour
Special to The Vindicator
The reignited cycle of violence in Palestine and Israel provides the Israeli government with exactly what it has been begging for months for: violence. However, for once, Israel may be facing a new fact of life — as the sole military power in the conflict, it has the full ability to start a widespread campaign of violence, but it may no longer be the party that single-handedly decides how it ends. This particular round of violence has the potential to surprisingly end with political progress towards peace.
If this new, heartbreaking round of violence is what finally brings an end to the 47 years of Israeli military occupation, then the three Israelis and scores of Palestinians who so brutally lost their lives these past several weeks would not have died in vain.
I refer not of the usual violence that the world has become numb to, such as the nearly five decades of Israeli military occupation of Palestinians and their lands, nor the cries of desperation from Gaza that are stupidly expressed by misguided militants launching unguided, homemade-like projectiles indiscriminately into Israeli cities and open fields, but rather an escalation in violence that allows Israel to open the only playbook it knows in managing conflict, one based on more violence.
This sad round of yet more Palestinian-Israeli violence is creating a nightmare scenario for the Israeli government. The extremist parts of the Jewish Israeli community and Jewish diaspora, particularly American Jews, are being seen in the open and across social media venues calling for Israel to “Kill all the Arabs” and “Bomb Gaza into a parking lot.” In Israel, dozens of Jewish Israelis took lawn chairs to the border of Gaza to watch the horrendous bombing raids on Palestinians while cheering on the warplanes as they relentlessly bomb Gaza homes. Dozens of Palestinian children have been maimed and orphaned, not to mention those handicapped or psychologically damaged for life. Worse yet, six Jewish Israelis were apprehended for perpetrating a horrendous hate crime in Jerusalem, the murder, mutilation, and burning of a 16-year-old Palestinian Jerusalemite who was walking home from morning prayers. Three have admitted the crime. The world is getting a peek into the Israel that Palestinians have been complaining about forever.
Senior Israeli officials
Shockingly, to the west, some of the violent outbursts coming out of Israel are being made by senior Israeli officials, including current ministers. The damage done to Israel’s manufactured image of being a society aligned with Western valu es has already been permanently disfigured, even given that the majority of Israelis, like the majority of Palestinians, deplore all the recent senseless killings. The current moment is possibly creating an opening for political progress if the international community acts expeditiously.
Maybe for the first time since Jewish terrorists in 1946 planted explosives in the King David Hotel, killing 91 and wounding 46 persons, and a Jewish religious student in 1995 assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in a public square in Tel Aviv, extremist elements within the Jewish Israeli society are being seen in the light that the Palestinians have been pointing out for decades.
These Israelis are not only threatening Palestinians, but are a threat to Israel’s future, no less a threat than violent Palestinian voices are to Palestine’s realizing its freedom and independence.
As the U.S.’s latest efforts, spearheaded by Secretary of State John Kerry, slammed into a cement wall, President Obama put the entire Palestinian-Israeli issue on “pause” until a path forward could be charted. At least this is what the public has been led to believe. Reality on the ground does not corroborate the words emanating from the White House any more than the justification Israel is touting regarding the wanton actions they are engaged in with its campaign of collectively punishing an entire society based on an unsubstantiated assumption that two individual Palestinians may have murdered three of its citizens.
Israeli violence in Palestine is the norm. This has been true for over six decades. Until the key international actor in this conflict, the U.S., upholds its obligations under international law, no one should expect anything but more blood and tears. The U.S. is no longer believable when it pretends that it is shocked by the deteriorating events on the ground. You can’t support the acquisition of land by force, fund and arm a state’s military occupation, cover up diplomatically and politically for the state for over six decades, ignore dozens of United Nations resolutions condemning the actions of that state, and then turn around and be surprised that events are spiraling out of control.
Israeli citizens, Jewish and otherwise, as well as Christian and Muslim Palestinians in Palestine, deserve a better global governance leader.
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant in Ramallah, the West Bank, and blogs at epalestine.com. He was born, raised and educated in Youngstown.