This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
by Don Liebich
October 21, 2015 No Comments
What you read in the mainstream media about the recent violence in Jerusalem
The Al-Aqsa Mosque at the Haram al-Sharif, or Temple Mount
Last week I participated in a conference call on the growing violence in
Israel/Palestine. The call included Palestinians and Jews who were either on the
ground or had been recently. The picture they painted about the deteriorating
situation was very grim. Although, at some level, I knew much of what was
discussed, several things stood out for me.
1. What you read in the western mainstream media is wrong. Whether you
read the New York Times, the Washington Post or any other mainstream media
outlet, the underlying approach to the coverage is that the violence is being
perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists and Israel is responding to these terrorist
attacks. The reality is that the violence did not begin in the past few weeks. For
years there has been a series of attacks by radical settlers in the West Bank on
Palestinians, their homes, farms and businesses. These attackers have, in many
cases been protected by the Israeli occupying forces. Over time the racist
attacks have spread to Israel proper.
2. It is not about access to al-Aqsa mosque. Although many of the recent
confrontations have taken place at the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) as
radical Jews have attempted to gain access to al-Aqsa and the Israeli
government has responded by limiting access by Muslims to one of the holiest
sites in Islam. While not the cause of the escalating violence, it was a trigger
that motivated young Palestinians to take action.
3. It’s the occupation. Israel has occupied the West Bank and Gaza since the
end of the 1967 War and over time has annexed portions of this territory and
built Jews-only settlements throughout. Despite an array of attempts to resolve
the conflict and establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel, the occupation
remains in place. We now have a generation of young people that—having grown
up knowing nothing but the occupation, having seen the optimism of the Oslo
Accords fade away under the pressure of expanding settlement, having no hope
for anything but a brutal military occupation—has become frustrated, angry and
4. The 2014 Gaza War united Palestinians. As I wrote at the time, prior to
this war Palestinian citizens and residents of Israel, even though they were
second class citizens, tended to think of themselves as Israelis first and
Palestinians second. Many knew little about conditions in the West Bank and
Gaza. The death and destruction inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza during this war
changed this mind set dramatically. They now relate intensely to the plight of
their Palestinian brothers and sisters living under occupation. They are also
more cognizant of their second class status in Israel. After the Second
Intifada, Israel responded by building a wall between the West Bank and Israel.
That strategy won’t work this time.
5. Fear is rampant in all segments of Israeli society. The seemingly random
nature of the violence has made the entirety of Israeli society fearful. Jews
fear that the Arab construction worker, waiter or student could suddenly turn
on them with a knife or vehicle. With the introduction of authorization for
police and military within Israel to “shoot to kill” if they “suspect” that someone
is a terrorist, Arabs see every policeman as a potential killer. One young Arab
woman told a story of walking in East Jerusalem with a water bottle and then
throwing it away, afraid that a policeman might think it was a weapon and kill
her. Mizrahi Jews, Jews of Middle Eastern origin whose looks, culture and
language are Arab, are afraid that they will be attacked by other Jews. The
usually vibrant Old City of Jerusalem, filled with shoppers, students and
tourists, is quiet.
6. The Israeli government’s response to the violence has only made matters
worse. The decision to combat the intifada by instituting even more violent and
repressive measures and the inflammatory language used to justify the
measures is counterproductive. The arrests and killing of Palestinian youth and
children is increasing the anger and spreading the violence.
7. Israel has a problem that they have no idea how to solve. Iranian
Supreme Leader Khomeini may have been prescient when he said, “The occupying
regime in Jerusalem will vanish from the pages of time.”
Israel, Israeli Occupation, Jerusalem, Operation Protective Edge, Palestine