FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Palestinians Need Hope Not Calm

Since the current upsurge of violence in Israel and occupied Palestine began, numerous foreign leaders, as well as the UN Security Council, have cited the urgent need to restore “calm”. It is not calm, a euphemism for Palestinian submission, that is urgently needed but, rather, genuine and credible hope for freedom and some measure of justice.

The Israeli government will not provide hope, and the Palestinian Authority cannot provide it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged during his reelection campaign that there would never be an independent Palestinian state on his watch, while Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, after promising that he would drop a “bombshell” in his speech to the UN General Assembly last month, dropped a damp squib instead. Those whose entire lives have been characterized by a “peace process” intended to maintain the status quo, a metastasizing settlement program that devours their land and a full range of daily humiliations have ample cause for despair.

While numerous obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian “peace” can be cited, the most fundamental obstacle to ending the occupation, now in its 49th year, is simple human nature. People rarely support a significant change in their lives unless they believe that the change will produce a significant improvement in the quality of their lives.

How can Jewish Israelis be brought to perceive ending the occupation as likely to improve the quality of their lives?

In recent years, Jewish Israelis have, understandably and rationally, viewed the status quo as the best of all possible worlds. They have been enjoying peace, prosperity, unwavering Western economic and military support and unconditional American diplomatic protection, while Palestinians, out of sight and out of mind, have been suffering occupation, oppression, impoverishment and frequent, often lethal violence at the hands of the Israeli military and Israeli settlers.

This comfortable situation for Jewish Israelis, with the occupation being essentially free of costs and even inconvenience, must change. It could change either through nonviolent economic and political pressure sustained by the Western world or through violent insecurity sustained by the occupied Palestinian people.

European states could apply meaningful and intensifying economic sanctions to Israel until it complies with international law and relevant UN resolutions and withdraws fully from occupied Palestine. Simultaneously, European states could apply strict visa regulations to all Israelis, requiring those seeking to visit Europe to provide clear documentary evidence that they neither live nor work in occupied Palestine.

In light of the years that the European Union has spent agonizing over even properly labeling the produce of illegal settlements sold in Europe, there can be scant optimism that European politicians will soon see it as in their personal interests to play such a principled and constructive nonviolent role.

Unfortunately, that leaves only violent insecurity. While one cannot advocate violence against civilians, one can nevertheless hope that such violence as does occur is limited in nature and produces constructive results. The current low-tech, knives-and-screwdrivers violence, producing a great deal of fear and anxiety but relatively few Jewish Israeli fatalities, may be the most effective and lowest-cost form of violence capable of producing the essential change in Jewish Israeli perceptions of their own interests.

If seemingly random and unpredictable attacks on Jewish Israelis were to continue for a significant period of time, they just might cause a critical mass of Jewish Israelis to conclude that perpetual occupation and oppression are not, in fact, the best of all possible worlds for them and that the quality of their lives would be enhanced by ending the occupation and permitting the Palestinian people to enjoy the same freedom and human dignity – whether in two states or in one – that Jewish Israelis demand for themselves.

It is a sad reality that, unless Jewish lives are lost, Jewish Israelis and the Western world tend to feel that the occupation is not a problem. Now that Jewish lives – and many more Palestinian lives – have been lost, with every likelihood that more will be lost in the weeks ahead, it is essential to take advantage of the world’s attention and promote new perceptions of future possibilities so that all these lives are not lost in vain.

If the current violence continues long enough to qualify as an “intifada”, it might appropriately be called the “Children’s Intifada”. Despairing of ever having meaningful lives, young people and even children are choosing, on their own initiative, to seek what they perceive as a meaningful death. This tragic despair can only be assuaged by hope.

When the violence ends, it must not be because the Palestinian people have been returned to their cage and forced to resume a fraudulent “peace process” leading nowhere. It must be because young Palestinians finally have good reason to feel a genuine and credible hope that their freedom and some measure of justice are achievable.

More articles by:

John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who as advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
August 20, 2019
James Bovard
America’s Forgotten Bullshit Bombing of Serbia
Peter Bolton
Biden’s Complicity in Obama’s Toxic Legacy
James Phillips
Calm and Conflict: a Dispatch From Nicaragua
Karl Grossman
Einstein’s Atomic Regrets
Colter Louwerse
Kushner’s Threat to Palestine: An Interview with Norman Finkelstein
Nyla Ali Khan
Jammu and Kashmir: the Legitimacy of Article 370
Dean Baker
The Mythology of the Stock Market
Daniel Warner
Is Hong Kong Important? For Whom?
Frederick B. Mills
Monroeism is the Other Side of Jim Crow, the Side Facing South
Binoy Kampmark
God, Guns and Video Games
John Kendall Hawkins
Toni Morrison: Beloved or Belovéd?
Martin Billheimer
A Clerk’s Guide to the Unspectacular, 1914
Elliot Sperber
On the 10-Year Treasury Bonds 
August 19, 2019
John Davis
The Isle of White: a Tale of the Have-Lots Versus the Have-Nots
John O'Kane
Supreme Nihilism: the El Paso Shooter’s Manifesto
Robert Fisk
If Chinese Tanks Take Hong Kong, Who’ll be Surprised?
Ipek S. Burnett
White Terror: Toni Morrison on the Construct of Racism
Arshad Khan
India’s Mangled Economy
Howard Lisnoff
The Proud Boys Take Over the Streets of Portland, Oregon
Steven Krichbaum
Put an End to the Endless War Inflicted Upon Our National Forests
Cal Winslow
A Brief History of Harlan County, USA
Jim Goodman
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue is Just Part of a Loathsome Administration
Brian Horejsi
Bears’ Lives Undervalued
Thomas Knapp
Lung Disease Outbreak: First Casualties of the War on Vaping?
Susie Day
Dear Guys Who Got Arrested for Throwing Water on NYPD Cops
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail