In today’s heinous terror attack, a Palestinian from Silwan drove his car into the light rail tracks at Ammunition Hill station, killing a Jewish baby. The loss of such a tender young life is senseless. The mourning of the mother who was pushing her child’s baby carriage rends the heart.
But let us also remember the 500 dead Gazan children and their mothers who were bereft at the loss of the precious lives they brought into the world with such hopes and dreams.
The Ammunition Hill attack is an example of the chicken’s of settlerism coming home to roost. I’ve used this expression made famous by Malcolm X to evoke the fatal inevitability of violence and hate in this unending conflict. Bibi Netanyahu recently defended the theft of Palestinian homes in Silwan on U.S. TV and expulsion of their residents by settler NGOs like Ateret Cohanim and Elad. In fact, yesterday the former group, whose chief U.S. fundraiser is Dov Hikind’s wife, Shoshana, stole several homes in Silwan and forcefully evicted residents and replaced them with settlers.
Israel’s settlerist government supports such ethnic cleansing. Israel’s chief ally, the U.S., tepidly objects to the thievery. What are Palestinians to think about this? No one defends their rights to remain in homes they’ve occupied for generations. If deranged or extremist militants take the law into their own hands in the midst of the vacuum, who’s to blame (aside from the perpetrators)? Obama is to blame. Kerry is to blame. The EU is to blame. If they take no action, the situation will only get worse. In fact, today’s Haaretz used the term “Jerusalem Intifada” to denote a mounting wave of resistance and violence sparked by Israeli ultra-nationalism.
Settlers under the leadership of deputy Knesset speaker, Moshe Feiglin, have swarmed the Temple Mount, staking their claim to rebuild the Holy Temple in what they hope will be the near future. They make no bones about the fact that they seek to destroy the Muslim holy sites there. Ateret Cohanim is one of the key forces behind this project. Palestinians reacted with characteristic outrage at this extremist intrusion on their sovereign holy ground. In the past days, Border Police goons invaded the sacred precincts, showered worshippers with tear gas and the accompanying explosions. It was a madhouse, and all this on what is for Muslims holy ground. This was a flagrant provocation by the settlerist police force.
Again, what is a Palestinian Muslim to think of this? That the Jews have his interests at heart? That they will accomodate to them in any way? This is increasingly a zero-sum game for both sides. Either “we” win or “they” do. There is less and less chance of a compromise allowing both sides to win. This is a recipe for acopalyptic conflict. Religious war with blood flowing freely. We saw this in the invocations of the divine in the battle cry of the IDF’s Givati commander, Col. Winter. This should make every reasonable person shiver with foreboding. Unfortunately, those who should know better are trying benign neglect. It may’ve worked for Daniel Moynihan in the 1969-era Nixon administration. But not here, not now.
The Israeli prime minister has loudly proclaimed that he will militarize Palestinian neighborhoods. He will flood them with Border Police thugs who put the fear of the Jewish God into residents. They will do their best to pummel and brutalize East Jerusalem, which will incite even greater violence. More Palestinians will be emboldened to resist and the cycle of terror will only get worse. This is a festering sore that the world has allowed to become infected.
Ammunition Hill is across the Green Line in occupied East Jerusalem. It is also the site of the light rail line that was attacked. With the ever-tightening vise of settlerism squeezing Palestinians out of Jerusalem, the light rail line has become a symbol of oppression. It has been trashed, vandalized and burned by Palestinian militants. It is a symbol of their displacement and the official violence accompanying it. Though Israelis see the line as a positive development integrating the city and its neighborhood, that can only happen when all residents want to be part of the whole. Palestinians do not accept their marginalization within this scheme. The line, for them, helps Jews and advances Jewish interests. That’s a deadly formula as far as Palestinians are concerned.
Before the comments come in the thread, let me make clear what I always do in such situations: my post is not a justification of terrorism. It is an admission of reality. If Israeli Jews weren’t stealing Palestinian land, if Israel accepted a compromise agreement, if the world cared about what happens to Palestinians, then they would not need to resort to terrorism. As long as Israel can invade frontline neighbors with impunity and kill Palestinians, Lebanese, and even Syrians in the thousands, terrorism will fester. And let’s not forget that Palestinian terrorism doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Operation Protective Edge was itself a massive terror attack that killed 500 children. That’s state-sponsored terror.
If Israel was smart, it would recognize Palestine, accept its sovereignty, and put authorities there and the world on notice that it expected them to provide security. This would be a situation in which Palestinians would rise to the challenge because they would have something to lose: their reputation and sovereignty. Now, Palestinians are emasculated and powerless in the face of Israeli power. Powerlessness does not breed responsibility. Just the opposite.