Opinion

Palestinians Lie to the Occupier Out of Courage and Defiance. But Self-delusion Is a Different Story

File photo: Palestinians take part in a rally in support of president Mahmoud Abbas, in Nablus, the West Bank, February 25, 2019.
Abed Omar Qusini/Reuters

A security source corrected me: Videos gathered from security camera suggest that the accident I discussed earlier this week, in which a Palestinian resident of the West Bank village of Tuqu was killed, was caused after she rushed to her car to keep it from sliding down the sloped path leading from the yard of her house to the main road.

Regardless of the speed of the truck into which she crashed, I was mistaken to convey my assumption that the incident "will never be investigated as a suspected car ramming." The videos refute any such suspicion.

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Tuqu residents, according to Facebook posts, view the Israeli army as responsible for the fatal accident: It had blocked most exits from the village, and as the ruler fails to place road signs, speed bumps, etc., on a road under Israeli planning authority. All is true, only it has nothing to do with this tragic accident.

In a reality of foreign, hostile rule, it's natural that subordinates, deprived of their rights, seek to conceal their activities and deceive the ruler. This is what happens, for instance, when the Israeli planning authorities forbid Palestinian construction or stop them from connecting to water and electricity grids. It's natural that villagers will extend piping or dig hidden cisterns for rainwater in the dark of the night, or install solar power systems over weekends or holidays, when Israeli Civil Administration inspectors aren't around.

Concealment is an inseparable part of the struggle against a cruel ruler, who prevents water and electricity from reaching the native population under the pretext of the rule of law and public order. It's natural that people will seek any way, with or without permits, to work in Israel, as restrictions to movement and development imposed by it have led to high unemployment rates in the Palestinian Authority enclaves. It's natural that youth who throw stones at Israeli cars, both military and civilian, in the occupied territory will cover their tracks. The disruption of false normality generated by the Israeli apartheid regime is also part of the resistance.

The first problem is that under conditions of Israeli technological superiority and Jewish settler organizations who aren't satisfied with land theft and go on to spy on every Palestinian motion, it's difficult for Palestinians to conceal and hide these forms of struggle for very long. Lying to the Israeli occupier, as to any other tyrant, is a mitzvah, but growing increasingly difficult to accomplish.

The second problem is when the occupied, whose entire life is a struggle against a tyrant, are lying to themselves. Tens of women who had suffered domestic violence sought a way to escape through detention. They waved knives in front of soldiers at checkpoints, some of them perhaps attempted to stab or managed to scratch them. Perhaps some sought to commit suicide, for soldiers shoot to kill even at those who can be easily detained. Some of the women were killed, some seriously wounded.

There are also youth who tried to be detained, due to social or domestic difficulties, by throwing stones. In the Gaza Strip, too, there are those who participate in the Great March of Return out of a desire to die, because living is too difficult.

In society, in public discourse, the above are painted as heroes motivated by patriotism. It's a brazen lie, which helps avoiding any serious discussion of violence against women, of the loneliness of youth and of the voiding of slogans of any of their original meaning.

A week ago, elections for student council were held at Birzeit University, on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah. Two lists, affiliated with Fatah and Hamas respectively, won the same number of seats, but the Fatah-aligned list was in the lead by a few dozens of votes. Overjoyed Fatah supporters came to Ramallah's Manara Square to celebrate their "victory" by firing in the air.

This victory celebration was a lie told to themselves by supporters of a crumbling movement, rife with internal conflicts, affiliated with failed self-rule that failed, despite its promises, to bring statehood and freedom, and compensates with internal suppression.

Lying to the tyrant comes from a courageous, defiant position. Self-delusion is an expression of great weakness. The first condition to escaping this weakness is to stop lying to oneself.