I condemn violence, especially political violence. Violence begets violence. We have seen more than 100 years of violence between the two people claiming land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Israelis and Palestinians have proven their willingness to fight, die and kill over the territory each claim as their own. They both claim they have given their identity to this land and have taken their identity from it. Both sides claim, at least to themselves, that they want to live in peace but they claim the other side does not want to live in peace.
Both peoples are here on this land and have no intention of going anywhere. For Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, Gaza and abroad, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Israeli control over Gaza is terrorism. For Israelis, any Palestinian attempt to resist Israeli control is terrorism.
In one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent election interviews on Israel Channel 14, he said, “The fact that terrorism has risen in a meteoric tragic way, as we saw today, terror attack followed by terror attack, as we saw in Hebron and near Jericho happens because the government is weak. The government is a left-wing government that we must send away” (October 30, 2022).
“The fact that terrorism has risen in a meteoric tragic way, as we saw today, terror attack followed by terror attack, as we saw in Hebron and near Jericho happens because the government is weak. The government is a left-wing government that we must send away.”Benjamin Netanyahu
No Netanyahu, no!
First of all, when Palestinian resisters or combatants attack Israeli soldiers or armed settlers, they are not terrorists. That is not the definition of terrorism. They are combatants, guerrillas or resisters and I will never support killing anyone. When Palestinian combatants attack Israeli civilians with weapons, such as guns, knives, hammers and axes – then they can be called terrorists.
Second, a weak government as Netanyahu called it or a so-called left-wing government is no different in its ability to prevent young Palestinians from fighting against the injustice of the 55-year-old occupation than a right-wing Israeli government. The outgoing Lapid-Bennett government killed more Palestinian combatants than previous Netanyahu governments.
When Netanyahu was prime minister, the “knife intifada” took place between September 2015 and October 2016, 47 Israelis were killed on his watch. The bloodiest violence of the second intifada took place on the watch of Ariel Sharon and he cannot be labeled as weak or left-wing.
If Netanyahu was prime minister now and Itamar Ben Gvir was minister of the police, there would be continued attacks against Israeli soldiers and armed settlers. In fact, I believe very strongly, when (God forbid) Minister of Police Ben Gvir lets loose his unrestrained policies of hatred against Arabs, we will witness not only the acts of individual Palestinian combatants or small groups of armed resisters, we will witness attacks against Israel on a scale that will remind us of the second intifada.
NETANYAHU NOR Ben Gvir has the ability to create so-called deterrence against a people fighting for liberation who have long lost hope of any political horizon. Netanyahu killed the Oslo peace process by design. He knew then, as he should know now, that the use of force, violence, against an occupied people will ultimately result in more violence. It may be possible to crush and kill some individuals, and perhaps some organized cells but it is not possible to crush the will of an occupied people to be free.
Every Jew should know that very well from their own history. The burning desire to be free and to have independence is something that cannot be crushed from the force of those who seek to deny it. The stronger the force against a people fighting for freedom, the stronger the desire for liberation will grow in their hearts and minds and will more than likely be expressed by violence against those who are oppressing them.
There comes a point when so-called deterrence, the overuse and abuse of power and force, becomes the spark that explodes the powder keg, and the fumes of anger and hatred consume even those who were in general moderates the day before. You can demolish their homes but their homeless children will return one day with guns and bombs. We can arrest them and we do, thousands of them every year, but that will only increase the desire of many of them to abduct soldiers or civilians because they see no other way to release their loved ones from the occupier’s prisons. We can surround them with checkpoints, armed soldiers and settlements with armed militia but they will not lay down their arms or raise white flags of surrender.
Israel has a massive amount of military power at its disposal. Israel can defeat any standing army of any of the countries that threaten it. That military might cannot defeat the Palestinian people. The increase in support for renewing an armed struggle against Israel, particularly among young Palestinians, should be a clear enough indication that the use of force by Israel has not succeeded.
Israel has no long-term strategy for dealing with the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people have no leadership that presents a clear vision or strategy for their own future. Both sides are in survival mode, totally lacking the courage to face reality head-on with the understanding that we must return to the table to try to figure out how we are going to live together on this land and to stop thinking about how we are going to kill each other.
A new right-wing government filled with extremists will not make Israel stronger and will certainly not provide any of us with more security.
The writer is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to Israel and to peace between Israel and her neighbors. He is now directing The Holy Land Bond.