A Palestinian Christian’s view of the occupation

11 thoughts on “A Palestinian Christian’s view of the occupation”

  1. During the recent fighting, I was struck by the fact that the media would obsess over every possible instance of the Israeli military *accidentally* killing some civilians, while expressing almost no outrage over the fact that Hamas was actually TRYING to kill civilians. It’s like the media believed that Israel was a civilized nation, so it was fine to criticize them when they weren’t acting the way we thought proper – but the Palestinians, you know, we can’t really expect reasonable behavior from them, so they can do whatever they want.

    I say that because – has Israel sometimes treated the Palestinians in ways we think too extreme? Probably, but let’s not forget that the territories are filled with people trying to kill them! That’s where our focus should be. If someone’s home has been robbed 10 times in the last month, you don’t complain that they’ve barricaded their door and won’t allow visitors, even if you’re stuck outside. Do away with that problem and I’m quite sure they’d start treating the Palestinians more hospitably. As long as Israeli buses are exploding and rockets are falling on Israeli homes, I’m not going to blame them for being a little extreme in defending themselves. For every article we write complaining about Israel we should write ten about the hate and evil promoted a few miles to their west.

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  2. In other words, to summarize – complaints like these would be one thing if there wasn’t a war going on. But there is. And when the guilty and innocent live side-by-side, it’s a bit difficult to bottle up the one without affecting the other.

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  3. longerthoughts-This is not a war where two sides of moderately equivalent armies face off, it is a military, economic, and psychological occupation whose purpose is to completely break the will of the people in the occupied territories. The rockets are a reminder to Israel and the rest of the “civilized” world that the Palestinian people still do exist despite the best efforts at genocide by the Israeli government and its military, heavily funded by U.S. taxpayers.

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      1. David, the reason the Israeli government hasn’t engaged in a more egregious form of ethnic cleansing (I would argue some of their tactics constitute a “softened” form of ethnic cleansing) is that they know they’d never get away with it. The international condemnation would be such that even America would be forced to cancel its $3-billion-a-year welfare check to the Israeli military. The condemnation within Israel would be great as well, thanks to a great many Israeli citizens who already object to their government’s treatment of the Palestinians. So I’m afraid I don’t give the Israeli gov’t any “moral high ground” points for not slaughtering more Palestinians than they have.

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  4. Ben- Good insights, I too once swallowed the narrative that was spoon fed to me by the media that portrayed Israel as David surrounded by a sea of Philistine Goliath’s. Shoulder fired rockets are stones from a slingshot compared to the military arsenal at Israel’s disposal.

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  5. David, I don’t know which media you were watching, but I heard quite a few denunciations of Hamas throughout the conflict. Violence of any kind is inexcusable, as far as I’m concerned. And that includes Hamas firing rockets into Israel. Yet I wonder how I’d feel if my parents had been driven from their ancestral home at gunpoint and my children forced to grow up in what’s effectively an open-air prison.

    Characterizing the situation as “the Israeli military *accidentally* killing some civilians” is naïve to the point of absurdity. We’re not just talking about *some* civilian deaths. Over the last several years, the Israelis have killed 100 Palestinians for every 1 Israeli killed. The vast majority of those killed have been noncombatants.

    As for the IDF tweet, well…fat lot of good their warnings do when they’re bombing one of the most densely populated corners of the planet. Where are the people of Gaza supposed to go, anyway? They can’t just leave the combat zone; their whole territory is a combat zone. There’s nowhere they can go that’s safe from bombardment. At some point you have to accept that’s a direct result of the Israeli blockade. Israel blames Gazans for not clearing out before the bombs fall, yet they’re the ones who engineered the situation that makes it impossible for them to do so! I believe that’s what you call hypocrisy.

    It’s funny how excessive violence on the part of Israeli soldiers get brushed away as nothing more than a few bad apples being maybe “a little extreme,” as you put it. Yet according to you, the Palestinian territories “are filled with people trying to kill” Israelis, as if every Palestinian walks around with a rocket launcher over their shoulder! I don’t think you realize how very far from reality that assumption is. And I don’t think you’ve taken into account decades of systematic oppression and injustice, like the kind I described above — which, let’s not forget, started with 700,000 Palestinians being forcibly evicted from their homes in the 1940s. How would you feel if that had happened to you?

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    1. Ben, you realize you’re basically pushing a conspiracy theory here, in which all the efforts Israel makes to avoid killing noncombatants are nothing but cover for slower efforts to accomplish the same? I find that very difficult to believe.

      Nor can you just compare body counts. Israel has sophisticated warning and defense system that allow their people to take shelter, and also tries to stop weapons on the way. And their soldiers fight like soldiers traditionally have, in separation from the civilian population. But Hamas blends into that population, has no compunctions about setting up rocket launchers next to playgrounds, and even kills many of their own people directly when their erratic rockets land in their own territories. With that kind of asymmetry in fighting style, it would be surprising indeed if more Israeli noncombatants were dying. But nobody is going to ask Israel to turn off their sirens to make the fight a little fairer. As I said, look at the intentions here – clearly, Israel is trying to minimize civilians deaths, while Hamas tries to maximize them. Pretty clear to me which side deserves the greater condemnation.

      And I do feel for the genuinely innocent people caught in the crossfire, but that happens in war. Israel does ship in relief supplies (more cover for ethnic cleansing?), but it’s only sensible for them to worry about weapons coming in too. (We saw some ‘thanks Iran’ billboards go up after the recent fighting.) As our own experience in Afghanistan shows, I don’t think the West has yet figured out how to confront this kind of enemy.

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      1. The assessment I’ve given is based on direct, firsthand accounts, as well as facts acknowledged by the overwhelming majority of the international community and corroborated by virtually every NGO and observer group operating in the region. Besides grasping at straws, your labeling it a conspiracy theory sidesteps the real issue.

        Israel is not accused of making NO effort to avoid civilian deaths. But they have helped to create an environment where unacceptably high casualties are inevitable. And at times, yes, they have deliberately put civilians in harm’s way. Or have you forgotten that until very recently, BOTH sides were guilty of using human shields? Yes, Hamas bears responsibility too. At the end of the day, both sides are engaged in a futile effort to defeat the other through force, and that will never work. Violence only ever breeds more violence.

        Having worked with an NGO operating in the region, I can tell you Israel does the bare minimum to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. By their own admission, Israeli officials have pursued a policy designed to break the spirit of the Palestinian people. You honestly don’t think that has something to do with the recurring cycle of violence? I would encourage you to take a hard look at the root causes of this conflict and consider how they have contributed to the present-day situation.

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