Otherwise Occupied |

With Gaza as Their Model, Palestinian Youth Only See the Steadily Shrinking Horizon

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A Palestinian demonstrator uses a slingshot to throw back a tear-gas canister at Israeli troops, near Ramallah, December 2015.
A Palestinian demonstrator uses a slingshot to throw back a tear-gas canister at Israeli troops, near Ramallah, December 2015.Credit: AP

The prevailing assumption is failing on a daily basis. The assumption that our regime is normal, as is our life, and that our subjects are getting adjusted, or will become adjusted and will even say, “Thank you, Sir.” In each and every generation and day, we rise up to subjugate and trample them, and they’re almost there – trampled and submissive and normalized, and then they rock the boat.

And only because they – those young people, from the privatized uprising – are upsetting the false Israeli normalcy, are they heroes in the eyes of their public, though it has reservations about their choices and isn’t joining them. They are its inarticulate spokespersons, understood and not understood, surprising everyone again and again, although they emulate each other and part of a new routine.

They are deaf to the voice of logic and the Palestinian security services, which say that the nation and the homeland need them alive. They only hear the sound of doors bolted before them, and see the steadily shrinking horizon. They have never been there, but they know that Gaza is the model that was prepared for them (the planning, design and casting are Israeli, with a few brushstrokes and additions by Hamas and Fatah. The disgrace is that of Europe, the Quartet, the United States, the United Nations, Norway and Germany, who feed the encaged and hang around with the warden).

“Terrorists,” we say, and receive, ready-made, their full names and their Facebook posts, and the hints that they had personal problems at home, slash in school, slash in the neighborhood. “Murderers,” we say of those whose ABCs that they learned from birth are lethal Israeli rifles and tanks and aircraft, and surveillance equipment that invades their bedrooms.

“Cruel and despicable,” is how we describe their character, and each of those young people is familiar with the faces of the Palestinian children and elderly whose lives were cut off by our rifles and tanks, our heroic snipers and those who confirm the kill, whose names are classified and before whom the doors and jobs in high-tech are open.

There is a basic failure of intelligence in defining the unorganized wave of attacks as “terror,” and stone-throwing at demonstrations as “popular terror.” The military experts and the various groups in charge of espionage and of foiling attacks are missing the data and conclusions that are right under their noses. Indeed, Reuters, The New York Times and Haaretz don’t call a spade a spade, or our perpetual military rule terror, because the definitions and classifications are the private property of the winners, or at least so the winners believe. But the stench remains, even if we don’t know the Latin name of the skunk. And the leaders – and along with them the Israeli public, loyal, obedient and disciplined – hold their breath and declare that these are fragrant spices.

No, it’s not enough that several military experts say that we should allow Gaza to export another two tons of tomatoes, and that the Palestinian security services are actually all right. Our citizens – whether in uniform or not, inside settlements or inside Israel – are being killed because our governments were and are mistaken in thinking that the Palestinians will submit to their – and our – dictates, military superiority and cunning diplomacy and colonizing enterprise.

The loss of life and plans, the vacuum that has been created for dozens of families, is heartbreaking. In a well-run country, as the clichés would have it, in the event of such an intelligence failure and the collapse of the prevailing assumption, the public would oust those responsible and demand an opposite policy: bringing the army back home, evacuating the settlements and negotiating for a future of life and hope for both peoples. But the Israeli public likes the settlements, the private farms in the Negev, the hilltop communities and the “upper” (Jewish) cities in the Galilee. For the Palestinians, cages will do.

So how will we deter them now? Will we add the crime of “youth” to the military advocate general’s book of criminal offenses? Will we place all the Palestinians aged 16-23 in administrative detention? Will we expel hundreds of families to Jordan or Lebanon, as relatives of some Israeli victims are demanding?

Let us not seek mercy and consideration among the knife-wielding young people, when all we have shown and are showing them and their parents and their parents’ parents is cruelty and more sophisticated means of killing, tricks, self-righteousness and military orders for confiscation, demolition, expulsion, arrest, seizure. The loss of life and dreams, another vacuum in the lives of tens of thousands of families, the stolen lands, are heartbreaking. Every Palestinian was and is a target of Israeli weapons and the orders of the Civil Administration. And now such Palestinian targets (a miniscule minority among them) see every Israeli as a target. What’s the big surprise?

The screamers on the right will shout “That’s support for terror.” Let them scream as much as they want, and prove once again that they are unable and unwilling to read. And why should they read? The wheels on the assembly line of the Israeli dispossession project continue to turn: with or without negotiations, with or without knives and Carl Gustav submachine guns, the villas in Nili continue to be built, and we will demolish the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in favor of Hiran, a Jewish community with values. With the seal of the High Court of Justice.

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