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A difference of degree not kind

Link: Photo du Jour: Demolished At 10 Minutes’ Notice (2).

Of the 17,600 acres of land that comprise East Jerusalem (including the Old City and the commercial downtown of East Jerusalem), Palestinian citizens of Jerusalem have today the right to use and develop less than 9% of it. According to the 1995 Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem, 35% (6,250 acres) of the lands were expropriated for Israeli neighborhoods, roads and other facilities. While 80% of land expropriated since 1967 comes from Palestinians, the vast majority of that land has been designated for Jewish housing and other needs. Close to 0% of expropriated land has been designated for Arab use

It is increasingly hard to see the difference in kind between the Nazi regime and what is practiced in Israel today. Expropriation. Misuse of the laws and power organs of the state to oppress a group on racial and religious grounds.

What has to happen to end this persecution and our endorsement, both tacit and explicit of it?

The weblog from which this excerpt is taken is an incredibly detailed and informed look at the Israeli-Palestine conflict. The resource list alone is especially useful, as it is both comprehensive and well-annotated. The more you know, the worse it becomes:

No matter how terrible their actions, Israeli soldiers are essentially good people, “lovers of life”. Simply good people overwhelmed by the corrupting influence of the Occupation.

Well, fine. Perhaps they are. But how come the corrupting influence of occupation does not cut both ways? How come Palestinian suicide bombers are not “lovers of life” corrupted by the Occupation? Almost two-thirds of all Palestinians – and 100% of Palestinian suicide bombers – have lived their entire life under military occupation, but apparently it doesn’t corrupt or influence them. According to Yoel Marcus, they are simply people who “want to die”. It’s not that they would rather die than live a thirty-eighth year under a squalid military occupation. It’s not that they want to live in an independent Palestine, but have watched Israel use the peace process that was supposed to deliver that independence to accelerate, instead of reverse, the colonization of the land that was meant to become Palestine. It’s not that their homes are illegally destroyed and their economy strangled, so that they have no job and no prospect of getting one. It’s not that they are collectively punished, or tortured in prison, or risk becoming “collateral” victims of extra-judical executions or random fire, and it’s not because they’re being robbed of their land by violent, racist settlers who act under the protection of the IDF and with the connivance of the Israeli government. There is no context at all to what suicide attackers do. They just “want to die”.

So when Yusuf Sweitat, who had no prior connection with Palestinian militants, drove to the Israeli town of Hadera on 28 October 2001, and shot dead four Israeli women at a bus stop before being gunned down himself by Israeli police, that was nothing to do with the fact that ten days earlier he had watched twelve-year-old Riham Ward bleed to death in his arms after being struck by an IDF tank shell as she sat at her school desk at the Ibrahimiya Elementary School in Jenin. Similarly, the IDF’s assassination of 21-year-old Fadi Hanani in Nablus on 15 December 2001 had no bearing at all on his cousin Saed Kamal Hanani’s decision to kill himself and four Israeli bystanders at Geha Junction, near Tel Aviv, just 10 days later. And it was entirely coincidental that seven days after the IDF shot dead 15-year-old stone-thrower Amjad Al-Masri, and six days after the IDF fired upon Amjad’s funeral procession, killing his cousin Mohammed, Amjad’s 17-year-old brother Iyad blew himself up in Ginsafut near Qalqilya. The fact that Iyad was spattered with his cousin’s brains when an IDF sniper shot Mohammed through the head, and later found pieces of Mohammed in his hat, had nothing to do with it. And when Hanadi Jaradat slipped through the Jenin checkpoint on 4 October 2003, headed for Haifa and blew up herself and 20 innocent Israelis at Maxim’s Restaurant, she did so just because she wanted to die. She was not influenced by the shooting deaths of her fiancé, brother and cousin at the hands of Israeli soldiers. And it is not at all relevant that just one week before the bombing she had been refused a permit to take her father through the Jenin checkpoint to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, for treatment that might have prevented his liver cancer becoming terminal. And just because Shin Bet interviews intensively every intercepted suicide bomber to find out their motives, and reports that the single most common motivator is having a relative or close friend killed by Israeli occupation forces, why would anyone think the Occupation has anything to do with Palestinian suicide attacks? They just “want to die” It’s that famous “culture of death” the Islams have.

So to sum up: Israelis are good people who commit terrible acts because of the overwhelming corrupting influence of the Occupation. The overwhelming corrupting influence of the Occupation does not however affect the Palestinians, who commit terrible acts because, well, that’s the kind of people they are. Is that clear?

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