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Where Violence is the Norm

The reignited cycle of violence in Palestine and Israel provides the Israeli government with exactly what it has been begging for months for, violence. However, for once, Israel may be facing a new fact of life—as the sole military power in the conflict, it has the full ability to start a widespread campaign of violence, but it may no longer be the party who single-handedly decides how it ends. This particular round of violence has the potential to surprisingly end with political progress towards peace.

If this new, heartbreaking round of violence is what finally brings an end to the 46 years of Israeli military occupation, then the 11 Israelis and Palestinians who so brutally lost their lives this past two weeks would not have died in vain.

I refer not of the usual violence that the world has become numb to, such as 46 years of military occupation of Palestinians and their lands, nor the cries of desperation from Gaza that are stupidly expressed by misguided militants launching unguided, homemade-like projectiles indiscriminately into Israeli cities, but rather an escalation in violence that allows Israel to open the only playbook it knows in managing the conflict, one based on more violence.

This sad round of yet more Palestinian-Israeli violence is creating a nightmare scenario for the Israeli government. The extremist parts of the Jewish Israeli community and Jewish diaspora, particularly American Jews, are being seen in the open and across social media venues calling for Israel to ‘Kill all the Arabs’ and ‘Bomb Gaza into a parking lot’. Worse yet, Jewish Israelis are suspected of perpetrating a horrendous hate crime in Jerusalem, the murder, mutilation, and burning of a 16 year old Palestinian Jerusalemite who was walking home from morning prayers. The world is getting a peek into the Israel that Palestinians have been complaining about forever.

Shockingly, to the west, some of the violent outbursts coming out of Israel are being made by senior Israeli officials, including current ministers. Assuming the situation on the ground settles down, the damage done to Israel’s manufactured image of being a society aligned with western values has already been permanently disfigured, even given that the majority of Israelis, like the majority of Palestinians, deplore all the recent senseless killings. The current moment is possibly creating an opening for political progress if the international community acts expeditiously.

Maybe for the first time since Jewish terrorists in 1946 planted explosives in the King David Hotel, killing 91 and wounding 46 persons, and a Jewish religious student in 1995 assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in a public square in Tel Aviv, extremist elements within the Jewish Israeli society are being seen in the light that the Palestinians have been pointing out for decades. These Israelis are not only threatening Palestinians, but are now a threat to Israel’s future, no less a threat than violent Palestinian voices are to Palestine being able to realize its freedom and independence.

As the US’s latest efforts, spearheaded by Secretary of State John Kerry, slammed into a cement wall (figuratively and literally), President Obama put the entire Palestinian-Israeli issue on ‘pause’ until a path forward could be charted out. At least this is what the public has been led to believe. Reality on the ground does not corroborate the words emanating from the White House any more than the justification Israel is touting regarding the wanton actions they are engaged in with their campaign of collectively punishing an entire society based on an unsubstantiated assumption that two individual Palestinians may have murdered three of their citizens.

Israeli violence in Palestine is the norm. This has been true for over six decades. Until the key international actor in this conflict, the US, upholds its obligations under international law, no one should expect anything but more blood and tears. The US is no longer believable when it pretends that it is shocked by the deteriorating events on the ground. You can’t support the acquisition of land by force, fund and arm a state’s military occupation, cover-up diplomatically and politically for the state for over six decades, ignore dozens of UN resolutions condemning the actions of that state, and then turn around and be surprised that events are spiralling out of control.

Israeli citizens, Jewish and otherwise, as well as Christian and Muslim Palestinians in Palestine deserve a better global governance leader.

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant in Ramallah, the West Bank, and blogs at epalestine.com.

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Sam Bahour is managing partner of Applied Information Management (AIM), a policy analyst with Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, a secretariat member of the Palestine Strategy Group, and chairman of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy. He blogs at www.epalestine.com. Twitter: @SamBahour

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