In some international circles, there has been great weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth because a Palestinian man drove a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers, killing four of them. The incident is being referred to as a ‘terror truck-ramming’, and the driver of the truck is being labelled as a terrorist. Several of his relatives have been arrested, and it won’t be long before we hear of their homes being demolished by Israel.
The word ‘terrorism’ and all its related forms, conjure up feelings of fear, and whip many in the global community into a fervor of patriotism. After all, they may wonder in horror, why would anyone kill soldiers, those alleged heroes who defend their country against any and all who would do it harm? And, in the minds of those who choose to keep their heads in the sand, why pick on poor, besieged little Israel, that beacon of democracy in the Middle East that shares so many values with the mighty United States?
It is long past time for everyone to take a deep breath, and try, just for a minute, to look at those annoying little things called facts. Yes, this writer knows that sound bites are so much more titillating, but just for a moment, let’s put them aside and focus on reality.
First, nowhere, with the exception of Israel and a rapidly diminishing majority of the U.S. Congress, does anyone dispute that Israel occupies Palestine, and does so illegally. Just weeks ago, this was once again reiterated by the United Nations.
Second, nowhere is it written that an occupied people must simply roll over and die, and allow the occupation to continue. Let’s look for a moment at international law. United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/33/24 of 29 November 1978 reads, in part, as follows:
“Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle.”
Please take careful note of the phrase ‘by all available means’. Nowhere does it exclude driving a truck into a crowd of occupying soldiers.
Third, as of September, 2016, the most recent date for which information is available, 103 Palestinians, the vast majority of them unarmed, were killed by Israelis during 2016. No Israelis were killed by Palestinians during this same period of time.
Fourth, while most readers were, up until right this minute, unaware of the deaths of those 103 Palestinians, most have probably heard about the four soldiers who died, since Israeli deaths are newsworthy, but Palestinian deaths, apparently, aren’t.
Fifth, it must be remembered that Palestine has no army, no navy and no air force. Israel has an extremely powerful military system, including nuclear and chemical weapons, and is supported completely by the United States. No weapons the U.S. has are forbidden to Israel.
So, what can we learn from this? Simply put, violence committed by Palestinians against Israelis isn’t terrorism. It is legitimate resistance to illegal occupation.
Let’s take a short trip back in history, first to the earlier years of the current millennium. The U.S. occupied Iraq for a time, and the news was full of the violence perpetrated by ‘insurgents’. These ‘insurgents’ were Iraqis, fighting foreign occupation. Stepping back a little farther in history, we can look at a parallel. Would one say that the French, in World War II, resisting German occupation, were simply ‘insurgents’, fighting against the nation that had so generously conquered their country? Or were they, like the Iraqis fighting U.S. occupation, or Palestinians fighting Israeli occupation, actually freedom fighters, French patriots resisting the destruction of their country by a foreign power?
Now, back to current events. Israelis routinely destroy Palestinian homes to make room for illegal settlements, or to construct homes that only Israelis can live in. They have been violating Palestine’s borders for nearly 50 years, encroaching more and more on Palestinian land and claiming it for Israel, in violation of countless United Nations resolutions. The violation of the basic human rights of the Palestinians by Israel would take volumes to document.
Earlier this month, an Israeli soldier, Sgt. Elor Azaria, was convicted of manslaughter for killing Fattah Sharif, an unarmed Palestinian. This crime was captured on videotape. Mr. Sharif had been shot, and was lying immobile on the ground, bleeding, and was left there for several minutes. Mr. Azaria approached him, and shot him in the head, killing him. We will leave for another time the question of why this was ‘manslaughter’, and not first-degree murder, but at least he was convicted of something. Yet throughout Israel, calls are being made for him to be pardoned, even coming from Israeli Prime Murderer, Benjamin Netanyahu. Does this not say something about the conditions under which Palestinians live? When the occupying power wants to excuse a blatant murder of an unarmed Palestinian, does this not indicate the severity and brutality of the occupation?
How Israel will react to this current incident remains to be seen, but if past actions enable us to predict the future with any accuracy, it will probably mean an increase in violence toward the mainly-defenseless Palestinians.
In view of all this, the so-called truck-ramming incident cannot be seen as an act of ‘terror’. It was simply a legitimate act of resistance by an occupied people, striving for the self-determination that is enshrined in resolutions of the United Nations, and various other internationally-accepted laws.
Next week, the United States will inaugurate a new president, the erratic and irrational Donald Trump. His advisors have stated that peace in the Middle East will be dictated on Israel’s terms; his closest advisors are all Zionists, and his vice-president belongs to a so-called Christian denomination that believes the Bible should be used to determine certain national borders. The U.S. was never an honest or fair broker in the Palestine-Israel situation, and all such pretense has now been discarded. The international community must now step up; this will not be possible in the U.N. Security Council, where all resolutions favorable to justice and freedom for the Palestinians will be vetoed, but there are many other diplomatic methods to pressure Israel. The time is long past for this to happen, but with the farce of U.S. mediation now exposed, there may be no better opportunity for this to occur then now.