Only Justice Brings Peace
By Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
Published in Jordan Times, Tuesday, February 10, 2004
AT THE end of January, the Israeli occupation forces killed eight (some reports say 13) Palestinians and injured many others in a military assault on Hay AzZaytouna (Olive tree neighbourhood) in Gaza. Among those killed were three teenagers: Sami Badawi (16), Akram Abu Ajami (17), and Sameh Toteh (16). Like in the case of so many other such assaults, the mainstream media in the US completely ignored this event or, in rare cases, made cursory mention of Israeli army “operations”. No mainstream newspaper ever details the victims of such attacks, let alone describing the actions as state terrorism (which they are). The next day, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 10 Israelis. In his will, the perpetrator stated that it was retaliation for these Israeli attacks.
The daily killings in the illegally occupied areas (200 civilians killed in the past two months) and occasional intense assaults, such as on Jenin refugee camp, that leave dozens of civilians dead are called war crimes by human rights organisations, but are ignored by many media outlets. By contrast, attacks inside Israel are described in detail and the media never shy away from using the labels of massacres and terrorism in those instances. The net result is that Israeli lives and deaths become valued while Palestinian lives and deaths are diminished or erased from our conscience.
This discrepancy in reporting on terrorism is particularly troublesome because the American public is misled while taxpayers fund the ongoing violence. After all, according to human rights organisations, four times more Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli forces than Israelis killed by Palestinians. These same human rights organisations (like Amnesty International, B'tselem and Human Rights Watch) clearly showed that Israeli forces do target civilians.
The reality is that there is state-sponsored terrorism that is an organic and natural part of colonisation and settlement of native lands. The Israeli colonisation programme over five decades has left 5 million Palestinians as refugees or displaced people and cornered those remaining into bantustans/ghettos being surrounded by high walls and watchtowers. There are individual acts of Palestinian terrorism, but one cannot ignore the fact that over 530 Palestinian towns and villages were erased completely. Residents were driven out by careful use of massacres (33 between 1947-1949 and dozens more since then), intimidation, deprivation, land confiscation and outright expulsions.
The oppressors always draw attention to the “savagery” of the “uncivilised” natives, whether natives are blacks fighting against apartheid in South Africa, Native American resistance to white colonisation or Algerian resistance to French colonisation. Colonisers always justify their actions by focusing on the extreme examples of the most cruel and violent attacks by the natives (e.g., burning people alive in South Africa, scalping and killing white settler women and children in North America, Algerian massacre of French settlers). Extreme violence and terrorism are the expected tail of a bell-shaped curve of resistance, which continues until its underpinnings are tackled (the injustices of discrimination, occupation and colonisation).
This is now well understood even in previously colonising nations like Britain and Spain.
With the US government taking the mantle of a new empire (our armies are now in over 100 countries) it seems a shame that history lessons are not learned. We try desperately to treat the symptoms of diseases that we helped create and fund while ignoring the aetiology of those diseases. Examples are too numerous to mention.
The US government supported Saddam Hussein in Iraq and our support for him was at the highest during his worst atrocities (including use of chemical weapons). The US military supported and trained the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan (the group that included Osama Ben Laden) because they were fighting the Soviet Union. Not learning from these mistakes, we now funnel $5 billion per year to the Israeli effort to finish colonising and ethnically cleansing Palestine of non-Jews. And while we insist that countries as distant as North Korea stop developing WMD, we veto UN resolutions to protect Israel as it breaks US law by receiving aid while having the third or fourth largest stockpiles of WMD in the world (nuclear, chemical, and biological).
Over the last couple of years, Israeli occupation forces demolished over 5,000 Palestinian houses, rendering over 30,000 people homeless. This is done with Caterpillar bulldozers made and paid for by the US. The mainstream media will not discuss this, but will continue to focus on only one of the many ugly symptoms of this disease.
More and more Americans are using the Internet to find the real story that they are not being told. The real story is that a colonial state is slowly finishing the destruction and ethnic cleansing started in 1947, all using our tax money. Meanwhile, a few who worked as lobbyists and advocates for this Zionist state are in the highest position in the US government (people like Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith and Wurmser). And judging by statements of leading Democrats (except for people like Kucinich and Sharpton), not much would be different under a Democratic administration.
The media intentionally suppress the peaceful and rational voices of millions, including thousands of Jews and hundreds of Jewish organisations, calling for an end to our aid to the Israeli apartheid system until it agrees to implement international law. History shows that only justice brings peace. Apartheid walls, occupation and oppression cannot impose peace. The sooner we learn this and act on our knowledge the sooner we will stop sacrificing money and precious lives to protect racist ideologies of separation and control of other people.
The writer is a Palestinian American associate professor at Yale and co-founder of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition and AcademicsForJustice.org. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.