Imagine you’re the Palestinians. Perhaps residents of East Jerusalem. Forty-seven difficult years are behind you; a big, depressing darkness lies ahead. The Israeli tyranny that dooms your fate declares arrogantly that everything will stay like this forever. Your city will remain under occupation “for ever and ever.” The defense minister, second in importance in the government that subjugates you, says a Palestinian state will never be established.
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Imagine you’re Palestinian and your children are in danger. Two days ago, the occupation forces killed another child because “he lit a firebomb.” The words “Death to Arabs” were sprayed near your home. Everywhere you turn, a soldier or Border Police officer may shout at you. Every night, your home may be invaded brutally. You will never be treated like human beings. They’ll destroy, humiliate, intimidate, perhaps even arrest you, possibly without trial.
There are close to 500 administrative detainees, a record number in recent years. If one of your dear ones is arrested, you will have difficulty visiting him. If you succeed, you’ll get half an hour’s conversation through a glass window. If your dear one is an administrative detainee, you will never know when he’ll be released. But these are trivia you grew accustomed to long ago.
Maybe you’ve also grown accustomed to the land theft. At every moment a settler can invade your land, burn your plantation or torch your fields. He will not be brought to trial for this; the soldiers who are supposed to protect you will stand idly by. At any moment, a demolition order or random eviction order may appear. There’s nothing you can do.
Imagine you’re the Palestinians. You can’t leave Gaza and it’s not easy to leave the West Bank, either. The beach, less than an hour’s drive from your West Bank home, is beyond the mountains of darkness. An Israeli can go to Tierra del Fuego, between Argentina and Chile, much more easily than you can go to the beach at Ajami.
There are no dreams, no wishes. Your children have a slim chance of accomplishing anything in life, even if they go to university. All they can look forward to is a life of humiliation and unemployment.
There’s no chance that this situation is about to change anytime soon. Israel is strong, the United States is in its pocket, your leadership is weak (the Palestinian Authority) and isolated (Hamas), and the world is losing interest in your fate. What do you do?
There are two possibilities. The first is to accept, give in, give up. The second is to resist. Whom have we respected more in history? Those who passed their days under the occupation and collaborated with it, or those who struggled for their freedom?
Imagine you’re a Palestinian. You have every right to resist. In fact, it’s your civil duty. No argument there. The occupied people’s right to resist occupation is secured in natural justice, in the morals of history and in international law.
The only restrictions are on the means of resistance. The Palestinians have tried almost all of them, for better and worse – negotiations and terror; with a carrot and with a stick; with a stone and with bombs; in demonstrations and in suicide. All in vain. Are they to despair and give up? This has almost never happened in history, so they’ll continue. Sometimes they’ll use legitimate means, sometimes vile ones. It’s their right to resist.
Now they’re resisting in Jerusalem. They don’t want Israeli rule, or people who set live children on fire. They don’t want armed settlers who invade their apartments in the middle of the night, under the Israeli law’s protection, and evict them. They don’t want a municipality that grants its services according to national affiliation, or judges that sentence their children according to their origin. They also go nuts when the house of a Jewish terrorist is not demolished, while the house of a Palestinian will be torn down.
They don’t want Israel to continue tyrannizing them, so they resist. They hurl stones and firebombs. That’s what resistance looks like. Sometimes they act with heinous murderousness, but even that is not as bad as their occupier’s built-in violence.
It’s their right; it’s their duty.