The Palestinian cause for freedom, liberty and not living under occupation is a just cause. The Palestinians have every legal and moral right to resist occupation and to struggle for their freedom and independence from Israel. There is no legal or moral justification for Israel to keep millions of Palestinians under occupation, control and domination.
There is no legal or moral justification as well for the Palestinian citizens of Israel to be less than equal to Israeli Jews or to tolerate any form of discrimination against them. That being said, it is important for the Palestinians to understand that killing Israelis does more damage to the Palestinian cause than just about everything else they do to advance their just cause.
Passing out sweets and celebrating Israeli deaths does even more damage and pushes sympathy with just Palestinian rights – not only in Israel but around much of the world – off the table. Palestinian freedom and ending the occupation will not be won by killing Israelis. Israelis simply become more united against Palestinian rights when they are attacked and killed by Palestinian terrorists.
The Israeli public has been indoctrinated to completely separate the occupation from Palestinian violence as resistance to the occupation. Israelis live their daily lives without thinking about the occupation or about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
That is not possible for Palestinians who cannot understand why the Israeli public does not see their suffering. Israelis have been indoctrinated to believe that all Palestinians hate Jews and that they are taught that hatred with their mother’s milk. Most Israelis will tell you that Palestinian hatred against Jews is taught in the schools and that incitement against Jews is the fuel that feeds Palestinian violence against Jews.
For Israelis, Palestinian hatred of Jews is the root cause of Palestinian violence. Israelis refuse to take any responsibility for the animosity of Palestinians toward Israelis or towards Jews. Many Israelis make this claim because Palestinians have been killing Jews since way before 1967. Even after the peace process began, many people assumed that Israel would eventually evacuate the territories it occupied in 1967.
Israel left Gaza, and yet, as Israelis see it, the hatred against Israel and Jews increased after there were no Israelis left in Gaza. After Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, Palestinians elected Hamas, which is dedicated to Israel’s destruction even after Israel withdrew from Gaza. Israelis ignore what should be their responsibility to confront their own actions and the horrific occupation policies including the 20-year closure of Gaza by simply invoking the word “antisemitism.”
“THEY KILL US because we are Jews” is what the news stations and speaker after speaker emphasized following the terrorist attacks in Beersheba, Hadera, Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv.
No one in the mainstream media in Israel speaks about the Palestinians killed almost every day by Israel. No one talks about the arrests of tens of Palestinians in the middle of the night almost every night. No one talks about the open-air prison that life in the occupied territories is or the huge prison camp that Gaza has become. No one talks about how continued Israeli land grabs to build more settlements negatively impact the lives of thousands of Palestinians.
I want to be clear: I do not believe that Israeli violence against Palestinians is a justification for Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians. I am against violence on both sides and see no value whatsoever in killing anyone in this conflict. For me, there are no heroes among those who use violence. There are no martyrs, and no one’s death should be celebrated in either of our societies. All of those who kill and who are killed are victims of this horrible conflict
The late Palestinian psychiatrist from Gaza, Dr. Iyad al Sarraj, was once asked if he thought that Palestinians believed they would defeat Israel by killing Israeli citizens. Sarraj answered that he did not think that is what Palestinians believed. So why then, he was asked, do Palestinian support the killing of Israelis? He responded, “We want Israelis to feel some of the pain that we feel every day.”
For many reasons, the message is not getting through to the Israeli public. Instead of feeling the pain that Palestinians feel, Israelis hear incitement against them. Israelis feel the pain of Ukrainians and oppose Russian attacks and occupation of Ukraine and are willing to accept Ukrainian refugees in Israel, but they are incapable of seeing the pain of Palestinians, of opposing their own occupation of Palestine and reject the idea of even accepting one single Palestinian refugee.
Israel bears no responsibility for the plight of the Ukrainian people. It is easy to identify with their suffering, especially because Jews have known so much suffering in their own history. But Israelis are not detached from their large share of responsibility for Palestinian suffering, and here it requires Israel to take responsibility and to confront guilt. That is much more difficult to do.
The writer is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to the State of Israel and to peace between Israel and her neighbors. He is now directing The Holy Land Bond.