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December 04, 2001
Terrorism, Israel and My People

By Ramzi Baroud


To merely describe a young Palestinian man who blows himself on a busy street or as he rides in a crowded bus as simply "evil", "wicked" and "terrorist", portrays a severe lack of understanding regarding the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

For decades the Middle East has been governed by such shallowness, and for decades the pain and hurt continue.

If for once we would attain the courage to confront the problem, the carnage may have ended long ago.

Many world leaders who rushed with poetic and unmatched condemnation of the "Palestinian terror" alleged that they were "shocked" by the news of suicide bombings in Western Jerusalem and the northern town of Haifa which claimed the lives of nearly 24 Israelis and wounded dozens.

Yet I remember, in an article, following the massacre of 10 Palestinians who were murdered by Israeli troops upon their invasion of a Palestinian village, Beit Rima in West Bank last October, I concluded with the following paragraph:

"The virtual silence before these Israeli crimes is likely to be soon replaced by angry questions "why do Palestinians blow themselves up?" But here you have it. It's the making of a new massacre, the making of more Palestinian orphans and widows and the making of more suicide bombers."

Indeed, nothing was shocking about the suicide bombings, nor did I have an ingenious idea when I predicted such a Palestinian response, it is human nature to respond to horror conducted against one with similar horror; if we don't admit such a truth, we shall forever be caught in this deadlock.

But let us track the events that preceded the bombings and see if we are still as shocked. The western media cites the escalation of violence and the subsequent Israeli invasion of six Palestinian towns in the West Bank to October 17, when Israeli hard-line minister Rehavam Zeevi was gunned down in a Jerusalem hotel.

Yet as always, mainstream media, especially in the United States, failed to live up to the traditional requirement of journalism, honesty.

The recent wave of violence should've been traced to the assassination by Israeli missiles of one of the most renowned Palestinian political leaders, Mustafa El-Zabri in his office in Ramallah a few weeks before the retaliatory assassination of the Israeli minister.

While El-Zabri's death was described by US officials as "not helpful", and the Western media depicted the man as "militant", all hell broke lose when the Israeli minister was killed in response.

Israel was then urged to show "restraint", PA President Yasser Arafat was cornered, "it's time for deeds not words", he was told, "rein on the terrorists" Israel ordered...

Then we dove into a period of virtuous silence by American officials, of course not including the routine demand of Palestinians "to stop the violence" and of Arafat "to crack down on militants", and of Israel to "show constraint."

But what is extremely disturbing, is that an estimated 160 Palestinians have been murdered by Israel since then, killings that devastated entire communities and battered the remaining hope for peace; but strangely enough, the US found such killings not worthy of mention.

Then it was the start of the holy month of Ramadan; news reports coming from the Occupied Territories cited few violent incidents in the early days of Ramadan. It seemed as if Palestinians were about to enjoy a period of quiet, to reflect and to enjoy the month of fasting.

The opposite was true, It was clear that Israel's Prime Minster Sharon was keenly interested in provoking violence. He knew too well that the US was about to increase pressure on both him and Arafat to revive the stagnant peace talks. The most successful method that the man has used to prove that peace with the Palestinians is not possible, is to aggravate Palestinians to retaliate; and when they do, their retaliation is what the world will remember; everything prior to the so called "Palestinian violence" is forgotten.

Let us quickly pass by the last ten days prior to the suicide bombings.

On November 22, five Palestinian children from the same family were blown to pieces by the Israeli army while in their way to school in the Gaza Strip town of Khan Yunis.

Western condemnation of the killings was hardly reported.

On November 23, 15 year old Wael Radwan was shot by Israeli troops in his way to the local graveyard with a crowd of Palestinian mourners to bury the five children.

No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

On November 23, Israeli tank shells exploded on the Beit Iba road near Nablus, killing two cousins, both named Mohamed Samaineh.

No condemnation of the killings was reported in the Western world.

Also on November 23, Israel assassinated top Palestinian activists Mohammed Abu Hanoud and two brothers, Aymen and Mamoun Hasaikeh in Taluza near Nablus.

No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

More murders in November 23, when Mohamed Hinawi was killed when Israel shelled a taxi cab filled with passengers near Rafah.

No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

On November 25, Kifah Ebied from Dihisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem was killed by an Israeli sniper near a mosque.

No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

On November 28, 80-year-old Mousa Galami was intentionally run over by a settler's car in Nablus.

No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

Rami Mansour from Gaza was killed by four Israeli bullets on November 29.

No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

Rashad Mhna and Hassan Zbeidi were both killed in their cars near a checkpoint when Israel opened fire toward Palestinian vehicles near the Jordanian border on November 29.

No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

Mohamed Shahlah, 10, and Rami Asous were killed on December 1, Mohamed was in his house when an Israeli shell claimed his life and Rami was in a taxi cab returning home.

No condemnation of the killing was reported in the Western world.

The murder of Palestinians at the hand of an invading army, backed by a racist government policy that legitimizes the murder of innocent people, managed to escape us, as if such news was as routine as weather and sports.

Many western agencies failed to even report on the killings, or mention the names of the victims; only using Israel's narration where every Palestinian killed is somehow a "militant" who posed a threat to the state of Israel.

Should we just flip the page and return to our comfort zone where "Palestinian terrorism" is condemned with the strongest terms; or shall we for once track violence to its real roots and hold its perpetrators accountable?

In truth, I am not seeking a mere condemnation of Israeli terrorism. I am seeking the end of the occupation and freedom for my people, the refugees, the victims and the misunderstood.