“You, who killed my father, you are temporary residents and Canaanites, I’m letting you know: We are staying – because [the land] is ours,” said Yiftach Palmach Ze’evi, son of slain cabinet minister Rehavam Ze’evi, at his father’s funeral.
He then called upon Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to avenge his father’s death, saying: “To you, Arik, [Sharon], such a close friend of Father at the start [of your careers]: Take revenge like Gandhi would have avenged [your murder], and return to lead the way we knew you.”
And revenge is what Sharon wrought on the Palestinian population following the targeted killing of Ze’evi a.k.a. Gandhi, renowned for his calls of the deportation of Palestinians — whom he affectionately referred to as lice. Palestinian cities were invaded, dozens of Palestinians were killed, and the economic vice on the Territories was tightened even further. An Israeli reporter saw Israeli tanks flatten cars parked on the streets and destroy telephone polls. In one town, Israeli soldiers shamelessly made Palestinian residents sit outside of their homes while they ate their food and napped.
Yiftach’s rage and the anger of other Israelis at Ze’evi’s death might be understandable if the Israelis weren’t such advocates of assassinations of Palestinian leaders. More than 65 Palestinians have been assassinated in the last 14 months, because Israel says they are ‘terrorists.’ The latest leader to be assassinated was allegedly the head of the military wing of Hamas. Israel claimed he was at the top of their most wanted list. Self-defense is what Shimon Peres said. No evidence is ever provided. Israel need only claim that the targets are affiliated to groups like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hamas, or Islamic Jihad. To make matters worse, at least two dozen Palestinians murdered during Israel’s so-called ‘targeted killings’ have been innocent bystanders, including children.
Israel screams that they’re just like the US. But, in the US, we have the First Amendment. This most precious freedom guarantees the Freedom of Association. In essence, our citizens are free to choose whatever group they wish to affiliate themselves, and our government can say nothing. Mere affiliation is not a crime. We also have a national policy against assassinating leaders. We have this policy because it would bad for us to conduct these kinds of murders. We kill them and then they’ll kill us. Ze’evi’s death was, in fact, retaliation for the assassination of the PFLP’s Secretary-General Ali Abu Mustapha. Retribution is not a really difficult concept to grasp as we live in a world where ‘an eye for an eye’ is prevalent.
Israel says it is facing a threat that nobody else can understand. But Palestinians are facing a situation of Occupation that nobody else is subjected to. Still, Israel says it ‘must’ take these kinds of measures so that ‘terrorists’ don’t win. What is interesting to note is that the only prime minister ever to be assassinated was assassinated by an Israeli Jew é Yigal Amir. His town did not suffer as a result of his killing of Yitzhak Rabin. His family’s home was not demolished, as has been typical if a Palestinian is merely suspected of a crime. No other Israelis were murdered. Telephone poles were all kept intact and nobody’s car was flattened for the amusement of soldiers.
Yiftach and other like-minded Israelis don’t seem to realize that Yiftach’s calls for revenge are also echoed by the Palestinian children, whose fathers Israel has assassinated. Yes, the people that Israel assassinates are fathers, sons, brothers, uncles. Palestinians don’t have the tanks, however, to realize their revenge. They do not have the F16s. They don’t have the Apache helicopters. But the children suffer no less. The children grow up without their fathers, brothers, and uncles. Children lose the people they love for no other reason but that the Israeli government has labeled people as ‘terrorists.’ No trials. The decision-makers of these assassinations sit in the comfort of their offices. The soldiers who kill sit inside machinery. End of story.
To you, Yiftach, know that the Palestinians will never leave the land they have tended to for centuries and centuries. Rather than chastising other Israelis for not seeing the world through your father’s eyes, as you did at the funeral, you could have taken the opportunity to wisely discourage the official Israeli policy of assassinations. You could have said that this destructive policy ultimately cost you the father you loved so much. Instead, you called for more revenge.
When does it all end?
Sherri Muzher is a Palestinian-American activist, lawyer, and freelance journalist.