In the Real Tally of Violence, Palestinians Have It Much Worse

There is no Palestinian without a personal and familial history of injustice that was caused by, and is still caused by Israel.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Anyone who has worn a uniform past or in present, whether speaking on the record or off, immediately “knows” that the latest terror attack and what looks to soldiers as the latest attempted terror attack does not signify the beginning of a third Intifada. Or, they "know" it does signify such a beginning, and it's all because of the peace negotiations or because of Palestinian incitement, or both. Relying on the knowledgeable military brass is a fixed Israeli reflex; it is part of the balance of power and part of how the Israelis exert control over their subjects.

Whoever said 100,000 Palestinians have unfinished business with the Israel Defense Forces took it a step further creating the impression that he really knows and thinks, and does more than calculate tallies. But the starting point for calculation is somewhere else completely: There is no Palestinian whose score with the State of Israel is settled - whether he lives in forced exile or whether he lives within the borders of Israel, or in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. There is no Palestinian without a personal and familial history of injustice that was caused by, and is still caused by Israel. Just because the Israeli media does not report on all the injustices Israel causes day in and day out - even if only because they so numerous - does not mean they go away and neither does the anger they cause. Therefore, according to the correct calculation, the number of attacks by Palestinian individuals is relatively microscopic. This small number shows that for the vast majority of Palestinians - passing, murderous and hopeless revenge is not an option.

But nonetheless, the fatal attacks in recent months are worrying. They point at the political and social bankruptcy of the Palestinian leadership and organizations, who have stopped serving as the national rallying point, and are unable to hold back the waves of despair. The Palestinian feels isolated against his attackers. New initiatives and other forms of leadership are still in their diapers. And in the meantime, the Israel's methods of injustice are becoming more sophisticated. To speak about the anger without linking it to the occupation and systematic discrimination is like discussing environmental pollution without reference to the polluter.

Any Jew in the world who has never so much as set foot here, automatically enjoys the right to enter Israel, to find shelter here from economic distress (Argentina) or political distress (Russia), to tour the land, to settle down, to live and to work on both sides of the Green Line. These are rights that are partially or fully denied to Palestinians - whether they are citizens of the state or not, whether they live in Israel, whether their family comes from here and whether they lost land and property to the other.

What kind of feelings does the structural discrimination against Palestinians engender? It riles up and infuriates. The Israeli experts, those who keep stats on Palestinian violence, either ignore their own violence or else they are smart enough to cover it up. We must therefore cry out again and again: Every Palestinian, man or woman, poor and less poor, and also the very wealthy, refugees or not, and those who live in the Land of Israel (within the borders of the British Mandate) daily risk that the Israeli authorities and their representatives (soldiers, policemen, settlers, right-wingers) will harm them in some fashion. The situation jeopardizes their lives, livelihood, property, land, health, education, or the continuity of their family and social relations.

In every area, there are additional varieties of harm and harassment particular to it. For citizens of Israel, it is the creeping racist legislation. In East Jerusalem, it is the negation of residency status and expulsion from Israel. In the West Bank, it is the wholesale arrests, the settlements, the settlers, land expropriations under a pseudo-legal guise, and lack of running water in many communities during the summer. And in the Gaza Strip? Unseen jailers, whose identity is known. They sequester its residents in the world’s largest prison camp, and there is no one who will say as God said to Moses during the crossing of the Red Sea: Wake up, compose thyself, my beloved ones are drowning in the sewage and in the sea of oblivion.

Palestinians gather around Hamas militants as they take part in a military parade marking the first anniversary of the eight-day conflict with Israel, in Gaza City November 14, 2013.Credit: Reuters

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