What should they think?

The following question is often asked by those who side with Israel in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: are the Palestinians ready for peace, and if so, why do they keep talking violence, hatred, war, destruction, death, and revenge? And if they insist on using such language, what can Israelis think but that Palestinians are not interested in peace?

But there are questions we rarely hear. Here are some of them:

What should Palestinians think when they read, as reported on May 7, 2002, by Israel’s most respected paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, that Israeli school children, some of them teenagers and only a few years away from joining military service, send letters in which they write “please kill a lot of Arabs”, “I pray for you that you return home safely, and kill at least ten for me,” “Let the Palestinians, may God blacken their name, burn in Hell. Punch holes in them with your M-16 and bomb them”? [1]

What should they think when they read that the spiritual leader of a key party in the current Israeli coalition government has publicly used, more than once, such hate speech as, “May the Holy Name visit retribution on the Arabs’ heads, and cause their seed to be lost, and annihilate them, and cause them to be vanquished and cause them to be cast from the world. It is forbidden to be merciful to them, you must give them missiles, with relish – annihilate them. Evil ones, damnable ones”?[2]

What should they think when one of the most respected American journalists, New York Time reporter Chris Hedges, publishes a story in which he states that he has watched Israeli soldiers day after day taunt Palestinian children and then “shoot them for sport” (his own words), and yet no one in the media, let alone the US administration, expresses outrage and indignation over the practice?[3]

What should they think when the Majority Leader of the United States Congress advocates, on national television and on the record, the transfer of Palestinian populations from the Occupied Territories — a practice officially designated as a war crime by the Fourth Geneva Conventions? “I’m content to have Israel grab the entire West Bank”? Mr. Armey said, pointing out that “[t]here are many Arab nations that have many hundreds of thousands of acres of land.[4]

What should they think when they read one of America’s most respected lawyers and self-proclaimed civil and human rights defender, Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, propose — with perfect matter-of-fact moral confidence — an outright war crime: “for every attack, Israel should after giving the residents 24 hours to leave, bulldoze a Palestinian village that has been “used as a base for terrorist operations.”?[5] Also, how should they think that Professor Dershowitz’s remarks have elicited little more than a yawn from his colleagues, the legal establishment, and the media in general?

What should they think when they hear tens of thousands of Jewish-American supporters of Israel loudly boo and hiss one of the top officials in the US government, deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz (himself a long time hawkish supporter of Israel) for simply suggesting that innocent Palestinians hurt in the current conflict deserve also some sympathy”?[6]

What should they think when they read that America’s top law enforcement official, Attorney General John Ashcroft, believes that while “Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you”, “Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him”?[7]

What should they think when they hear that Israel’s most “dovish” Prime minister, Ehud Barak, believes that the Palestinians are the product of a culture “in which to tell a lie … creates no dissonance. They don’t suffer from the problem of telling lies that exists in Judaeo-Christian culture. Truth is seen as an irrelevant category. There is only that which serves your purpose and that which doesn’t.”[8]

What should they think when they read that the platform of the political party in power in Israel, Ariel Sharon’s Likud, still retains language that asserts that there should be “No Palestinian state west of the Jordan river”?

And what should they think when they read that in spite of such unyielding rejectionism, the President of the United States still openly declares that “Ariel Sharon is a man of peace” — Ariel Sharon, the very same man responsible for what Amnesty International and Human Rights watch have called the “war crimes of Jenin”[9], and the very man found by an Israeli court indirectly responsible for the massacre of more than 800 Palestinian civilians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla?[10]

Should they think that Israel truly means to co-exist with them, or should they suspect that it aims to conquer them? And should they truly believe that America is an honest broker, or should they suspect that America is fully on the side of one party, even while claiming impartiality?


[1] “Dear soldier, please kill a lot of Arabs,” Yedioth Ahronoth, May 7, 2002 — Original Hebrew:  . For a commentary on article, see http://www.ynet.co.il/home/0,7340,L-1049-1879848,00.html

[2] Ultra-Orthodox Shas Party spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, in a sermon discussing Passover and God’s wrath at Israel’s enemies, 8 April 2001. BBC, Aril 10, 2001

[3] “A Gaza Diary”, Chris Hedges, Harper’s Magazine, October, 2001 – see: http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/features/gazadiary.html; “Excerpts: NPR Interview of Chris Hedges,” National Public Radio, October 2001

[4] Dick Armey, MSNBC Hardball, May 1, 2002. http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/indexarmey.asp

[5] “New responses to Palestinian terrorism”, Alan Dershowitz, Jerusalem Post, March 11, 2002.  

[6] “Hard-line Israeli supporters boo Wolfowitz”, Washington Times, April 15, 2002 — http://www.washtimes.com/upi-breaking/15042002-045834-6177r.htm

[7] “John Ashcroft and Islam”, Christopher G. Adamo, March 3, 2002 — http://www.conservativetruth.org/archives/christopheradamo/03-03-02.shtml

[8] “Camp David and After: An Exchange (1. An Interview with Ehud Barak)”, June 13, The New York Review of Books — http://www.nybooks.com/articles/15501

[9] “Human Rights Watch: Israeli army committed war crimes against the Palestinians” – Arabic News, May 4, 2002 — http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020504/2002050411.html  

[10] “Likud rejects Palestine statehood “,Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and Alfonso Chardy , Knight Ridder News Service– http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/3252945.htm

Mr. Ahmed Bouzid is President of Palestine Media Watch.


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