There is no doubt that religious, Israeli and secular acts of militancy have tarnished the image of the Palestinians and the chances of ever creating an actual state called Palestine.
In more ways than one, the suicide attacks against the US on September 11, 2001, revealed to the world a perverse phenomenon that was already taking place for many years: ugly and recurrent acts of militancy gradually and irrevocably damaging any chances of ever creating a place called Palestine that would fit the mould of the collective Arab memory.
Of course, Palestine was never a country before the implantation of Israel in the early 1900s. The geographic area of Palestine was divided into two Ottoman sanjaks (districts) that also included parts of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, so largely what the Arabs refer to as Bilad Al Sham. And then there was the territory of Filistina during the Roman Empire, which was even smaller.
Israel was created by war and terror. It was different terrorist Jewish groups, Stern Gang, the Irgun Zvai Leumi and Haganah that all attacked British patrols during the Mandate period and targeted Arab market places to score maximum casualties. These terrorist groups became the backbone of the Israeli army.
In their earlier, more glorious days, the Zionists successfully massacred hundreds of Palestinian villagers and expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. In their more recent, but no less barbaric days, the Israelis continue to decimate villages in search of those fighters that may be supporting someone that could be affiliated to or supporting the Arab/Palestinian cause.
Every time Israel attacks ‘pre-emptively’, whether it’s Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, or the Palestinians, there is always, without fault, a ‘terrorist’ clause thrown in there for good measure, justifying and explaining why it’s really necessary to raze entire villages in southern Lebanon or destroy the sewage, schooling and electrical systems in Gaza.
There’s no way to explain what the Israeli military machine does: no one plans to spray their name in bullets on walls or to level the floors of an American International School like pancakes, or do they? Well, the Israeli soldiers in Gaza were very inspired in that respect; in South Lebanon, they were inspired with ulterior techniques during house searches after aerial bombardments.
But there is also no way to explain why a Palestinian would choose to blow himself up on a public bus in Occupied Jerusalem, or why a Palestinian worker would take his plough truck and go on a rampage trying to destroy Israeli cars, or why a Palestinian taxi driver would drive into the entrance of a nightclub in Tel Aviv. It’s savage, nonsensical, fantastical, mad. It’s a little like the Wild West.
No matter how the Palestinians spin the story, they are portrayed as the ‘Indians’. They try to convince the world that they are the indigenous peace-loving people who dedicated their livelihoods to farming and fishing, but then you get a report in a major international newspaper that describes the despicable local attacks against those brave Jewish colonists and it’s really hard to not sympathise because they’re just trying to make a new life in a new land, right?
Wrong. But no one really cares, no one takes the time to look at what’s really going on: a consistent and obsessive Jewish colonisation of Arab territory is ongoing that has made the entire ‘peace process’ a complete parody — now the US administration is encouraging the Palestinians to not apply for membership at the UN, after Obama explicitly said there would be a Palestine by 2011!
It’s been a volatile decade. The coordinated aerial attacks into the eastern coast of the US definitely did not help the Palestinians at all. The George W Bush administration could easily aggregate, confuse and condemn any kind of violent action thereafter against its bellicose foreign policy and that of its main ally in the Middle East — Israel.
Born by war, Israel now lives off making war, which explains its atrocious foreign policy towards neighbouring Arabs and the Palestinians in particular. Former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat militarised the second intifada, not so much against the Israelis but as a show of strength against the rising Islamist influence amongst the Palestinians, namely Hamas. The results back-fired on all accounts.
Whoever could show greater strength and resilience to the mighty Zionists would prove to be the leaders of the occupied Palestinians — hence Hamas’ electoral victory. But the flip-side is that the more the Palestinians resist, the greater the Israelis can repress — hence the medieval siege of Gaza. September 11 only made that more possible and palatable.
Seen from American eyes, confounding terrorist attacks in Kabul, Baghdad and Tel Aviv homogenises and stereotypes the angry Arabs in flash mass media coverage. The tangible reality, however, is that Palestine is now an integral part of the security state of Israel — and that is why Israel does not want Palestine to become a reality. Terrorism will only test this truth.
Stuart Reigeluth is editor of Revolve. This is the first in a two-part series on Palestine-Israel.