by Dee Newman
Israel’s occupation of Palestine began 47 years ago. To this day Israel continues to illegally confiscate Palestinian water and land, demolishing Palestinians’ homes with impunity, while populating Palestine with Israeli citizens.
Over the last eight years the Israeli government has maintained a policy of collectively punishing 1.75 million Palestinians through its blockade of the Gaza Strip. An incredible 70 per cent of the population in Gaza are dependent on international aid for survival and 90 per cent of the water is unfit for human consumption.
Israel’s so-called justifiable retaliations for acts of violence by Palestinians have never been proportional. For example, during Operation Cast Lead (known in the Arab World as the Gaza Massacre), the three-week armed conflict (December 28, 2008 to January 18, 2009) between the Israeli Army and Palestinian militants, over 1,400 Palestinians were killed, while only 13 Israeli citizens died (4 of them by friendly fire).
Israel executes its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory with exemption from punishment, refusing to accept the world community’s call to respect international law. Israel’s criminal acts deprive Palestinians of hope and make a mockery of any attempt of revived peace negotiations.
I oppose any military tactic that targets innocent civilians – be it suicide bombings or the raining of phosphorus bombs over Gaza from Israeli fighter planes on civilian-occupied apartment buildings, Mosques and hospitals. Launching limited ranged rockets into Israel by Hamas is no more offensive than firing tank shells down a crowded city street in Gaza by the Israeli army. They are both brutal and repulsive acts of terrorism.
If we truly wish to stop Israeli and Palestinian attacks on innocent civilians, we must look at and address the source of the violence, instead of arguing about whether one act of violence is worse than the other.
If we are intellectually honest, we must recognize that the violence comes from a long history of mid-eastern tribalism, from irrational religious and ethnic bigotry, alienating and separating human beings from one another through ignorance and fear.
Israelis will never feel safe until they are willing to start treating their Palestinian neighbors with respect and human decency, until they are willing to end the military occupation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, including the construction of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories, seizure and destruction of Palestinian land and homes, and the restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement within the Occupied Territories.
Violence does not inhibit violence; it encourages it. As long as the Occupation continues and the Palestinian people are denied their fundamental human rights of freedom and self-determination, there will be those who will use violence to fight the cruelty, brutality and violence of the Occupation. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the Occupiers to withdraw their violence first. Morally, might never makes right.
Back in January of 2009 I wrote the following political verse:
Two Wrongs Don't Make Anything Right
By Dee Newman
All nations have the right to protect
Their people, but not the right to use
Their superior power, unchecked,
Claiming “self-defense” as an excuse.
Though the rockets launched by Hamas on
Israel are deplorable acts
Of armed, unwarranted aggression,
Their limited range, scale and impacts,
Do not justify the uncalled-for,
Disproportionate attacks within
Gaza by Israeli forces on more
Than 1.5 million innocent men,
Women, and children, hopelessly caught
In a captive state of persecution
Within a brutal, endless onslaught
Of ancient tribal retribution.
Though some extreme factions of Islam
Remain firm and determine to take
Back their land and wipe Israel from
The face of the earth that does not make
Israel’s criminal acts of war
Any less severe and egregious.
Nor, does it make them any more
Morally acceptable or just.
Two wrongs never make anything right.
They just prolong and expand the fight.