The Palestinian people also seek to end an occupation and establish their independent state within the parameters of international law. Is this too much to ask?
It is the leaders of Israel’s extreme Zionist right who, over the years, have defeated all attempts at a peaceful, negotiated solution. Needless to say, it was also the extreme right that killed Yitzhak Rabin and held Yasser Arafat under siege.
An Israel that is not exempted from the rules of international law is undoubtedly safer, and less of a burden to America and American taxpayers than an Israel that is granted impunity and the freedom to oppress Palestinians.
If George Washington, whom you hold as an inspiring hero, freedom fighter and founder of America, was a Palestinian born in the land of Palestine, he would certainly have led the resistance against the occupation by all means and without caring about the unfair portrayal of his fight for freedom by a biased, one-sided media.
You may be sitting in your office now doing some work, checking emails or doing your taxes. Meanwhile, you may be watching CNN coverage of events in Gaza while calling those who attacked Israel - as Fareed Zakaria asserts – ‘terrorists and enemies of democracy and American and Western values that are based on freedom and law’. You may also be following the statements of some Congress members as they demanded more allocations to protect Israel's security – ammunition, cannons, bombs, missile systems, and aircraft. Hundreds of millions of dollars go to protect Israel's security annually, and there is more on the way due to current circumstances.
You are therefore one of the financiers of this grand support that is being promised by American secretaries, carried by planes and demonstrated by aircraft carriers finding their way to the eastern Mediterranean. It is all done in your name and it is all claimed to be in defense of your interests.
They tell you that Palestinian militants are bombing Israel, capturing its soldiers, and taking them half-naked as hostages, but they don't tell you why. Why do Palestinian militants do that? Are they willing to die, along with their families, standing against the strong Israeli armed forces supported by the world’s superpower, America? Or are they, as Fox News tells you, merely agents of other countries – evil countries in the American imagination – who are setting the region on fire to serve their agendas?
Perhaps you know that the Palestinians, my friend, are simply struggling against a prolonged occupation, officially at least for the past 75 years. The media coverage you are getting is not telling you about this occupation as much as about the violence of Palestinian militants. You will easily realize that it is the aggressive and brutal occupation that prompts violent resistance. Every single day, Palestinians have to live with killing, displacement, intimidation, bombing, and collective punishment at the hands of the Israeli occupation.
Yes, Israel is occupying Palestinian territories. This is a fact. This is confirmed by the United Nations and the basic literature of international law.
They tell you that violence is not the solution and is unjustified, and everyone who practices violence is a terrorist. But do they tell you anything about the occupation?
If resistance to the occupation is called violence and terrorism, then what of the occupation? Would you describe it as an act of oppression or an illegal land seizure? How would you qualify the demolition of homes, the bombing of residential areas, and starving people? What would you say about the subjection of an entire people to racist discrimination and the deprivation of basic human rights?
You may say that I am simply being overly sympathetic to the Palestinians - and I am indeed sympathetic with them. As an Arab, I defend the Palestinians.
But what is it that I am defending here? I am merely defending Palestinians' right to live – not to be slaughtered as US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said when he addressed the world from Israel “as a Jew” – as he put it.
Just read what Amnesty International (AI) said about the Israeli occupation. AI is not a terror organization and its Secretary General, Agnes Kalama, is neither a terrorist nor a member of Hamas. However, Kalama did describe the Zionist practices in the Palestinian territories as “apartheid”. She did say that the occupation government is consolidating an apartheid system.
AI launched a campaign against this racist regime and condemned the systematic killing of Palestinians.
Kalama said, “These operations constitute crimes against humanity, just like other grave and ongoing violations committed by the Israeli authorities, such as administrative detention and forced transfer... The tragic events that occurred revealed the extent of the deadly cost of the apartheid regime. ... The international community’s failure to hold the authorities accountable for Israel's crimes of apartheid, and other crimes, has unleashed the isolation, division, control, and oppression of Palestinians daily, and helps perpetuate deadly violence. Apartheid is a crime against humanity, and it is frankly appalling to see the perpetrators evade justice year after year.”
The organization recalled that all Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law, and Israel's longstanding policy of settling civilians in the occupied territories amounts to a war crime.
How do you expect Palestinians to deal with such occupation? Is it fair in this case to label resistance as terrorism, given that Israel, especially under its current radical extremist leaders, has been undermining all chances for a negotiated settlement that the Palestinians have been actively pursuing since they signed the Oslo Accords in 1993?
One should not forget that this extreme right of Israel, to which Benyamin Netanyahu belongs, was behind the killing of Yitzhak Rabin in 1994. Rabin was killed at the hands of an Israeli because he tried to build real peace with the Palestinians – a real peace that would allow for Palestinians to have their land, their rights and their state. and it was the same people who besieged Yasser Arafat in Ramallah in 2002 and thwarted all his attempts to obtain Palestinian rights at the negotiating table.
So, what you call violence I call resistance. And resistance only comes with occupation. It comes with the elimination of all hopes for a peaceful solution. It comes as Israel continues to enjoy impunity, under every single American administration, while it is daily violating basic international law.
Today, the United States, the West, and the Western media are all failing to address the root of the problem. They go on about what has happened to Israel alone. They condemn resistance and call it barbaric violence without any mention of the very clear context of occupation.
For me, the question then becomes: were George Washington and all those who participated with him in the American War of Independence violent terrorists?
Back in the 19th century, the British occupation condemned those who joined the war for American independence. It called George Washington, the first president of the United States, an armed saboteur and militia leader. He was declared a criminal.
George Washington's resistance was a result of the occupation, and the occupation was the first and last problem.
Is it possible today to expect people like US President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Blinken, who did not refer to the Israeli occupation whatsoever as they addressed events of the past week, to disassociate the American war for independence from the occupation?
My friend, today the Palestinians are like the founding fathers of America; they want to end the occupation, to establish their independent state on their occupied territories – all within the parameters of international law. Is this too much to ask?
With due consideration, you will find that a peaceful Israel that observes international law is better for everyone, including American taxpayers than an Israel that is granted impunity and is free to oppress Palestinians.
The solution to the problem we have today is not in the Pentagon or aboard US aircraft carriers. The solution is very simple: for Washington (the capital) to abide by international law and make sure that Israel does the same. Otherwise, do not blame the Palestinians if they follow the path of Washington (the man).
* The writer is the editor-in-chief of Sout Al-Azhar newspaper, in Egypt.