Dear Israelis, how would you like your Palestinian?

When the Israeli establishment prevents Palestinians on either side of the Green Line from struggling nonviolently, what other options are left?

Israeli soldiers search Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron, September 19 2016. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers search Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron, September 19 2016. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

So what do all these Arabs do when they aren’t willing to bow before the establishment? The last few days have provided a slew or examples of the Zionist establishment’s attempts to mold the Palestinian who opposes the occupation as someone who is either handcuffed or shot.

Let’s begin with the lie that the media has been spreading over the past week. As my colleague Haggai Matar wrote in these pages, Israel’s “wave of violence” against the Palestinians never went away. A momentary calm in violent Palestinian resistance (a result of “security coordination” with the Palestinian Authority against the Palestinian people) and its resurgence over the past few days helps create a false image of a “wave” that Israel can control. As if the army, the Shin Bet, and Mahmoud Abbas can put a stop to violent attacks.

Let us, then, try and understand why the “latest wave of violence” isn’t going to end anytime soon, despite the temporary letup, and why Israelis will continue to kill Palestinians, even when they haven’t done a thing.

Around this time last year Palestinians were talking about the desperate situation in the West Bank. Aside from those in the PA’s inner circle, the Palestinians there have no real future, and it doesn’t matter how much they study or work hard. And if that’s not enough, Abbas’ security coordination with Israel has long ago put an end to the illusion of institutional resistance to the occupation, as if there was any way to conduct a struggle through the Palestinian Authority. Central political activists in the West Bank see Abbas and Israel as part of the same system of oppression, a notion that has become mainstream among the vast majority of Palestinians. Therefore when there is no one who will put an end to this desperation, people take matters into their own hands.

Palestinian Authority police attempt to prevent youth in Aida Refugee Camp from clashing with Israeli forces, Bethlehem, West Bank, September 27, 2013. The clashes were in reaction to recent provocations at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque by right-wing Jewish settlers. (photo: Activestills.org)
Palestinian Authority police attempt to prevent youth in Aida Refugee Camp from clashing with Israeli forces, Bethlehem, West Bank, September 27, 2013. The clashes were in reaction to recent provocations at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque by right-wing Jewish settlers. (photo: Activestills.org)

In other words, Abbas, who strengthened cooperation with Israel over the past few months, is one of the main sources driving these young, suicidal Palestinians. But security coordination is only the tip of the iceberg. The fact that Abbas does’t lift a finger when Palestinians die leads many to view him, and justifiably so, as a collaborator. Attacks on Israel soldiers are in some way an attack on the Palestinian Authority itself. Every shooting of a Palestinian, automatically described in the Israeli media as an “attempted terrorist attack” — even when there was no proof whatsoever of an attack — is naturally seen by Palestinians as a deliberate, violent attack by soldiers or police officers, while totally ignoring Abbas and the PA.

As despair from the occupation and the hatred of the PA grows, so too will the attacks. And when attacks increase, what will Israel’s best and brightest do? They will take advantage of the atmosphere to kill any Palestinian who might rub them the wrong way. And thus the bloody cycle continues, the news will talk about Palestinian “incitement” and other banal lies.

Let’s not play dumb

Now let’s talk about the handcuffed Palestinian. Orly Noy recently wrote that the persecution of the Balad party seems like an attempt to neutralize yet another “security threat.” She’s right. The fact that Balad, which represents the nationalist-liberal segment of the Palestinian public in Israel, has been persecuted for years.

Joint Arab List members Jamal Zahalka (L), Haneen Zoabi (R) and Basel Ghattas at the weekly Joint List meeting in the Knesset, February 8, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Joint Arab List members Jamal Zahalka (L), Haneen Zoabi (R) and Basel Ghattas at the weekly Joint List meeting in the Knesset, February 8, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Since its establishment, Balad has represented the Palestinian initiative and attempt to present a political strategy for the struggle against the occupation inside Israel. Today, bursting into activists’ homes in the dead of night is the smartest solution put forth by the Zionist establishment, which provides the immediate satisfaction that many Israelis want to see when it comes to the vocal Palestinian: handcuffed, without the ability to defend himself, behind bars.

Let’s not play dumb: the allegations against Prime Minister Netanyahu never amount to a thing, while every suspicion against a Palestinian political party is treated as a threat to the existence of the state.

A look at the way the state has treated Palestinians over the past few days raises a number of questions over long-term consequences. How is the violence in the West Bank supposed to end, with Abbas’ security coordination and without the end of the occupation, when desperate Palestinians prefer to take suicidal, individual action? Will Balad be able to recover from its persecution, and will the Palestinian public in Israel support the party?

The answers to these questions do not really interest the Israeli government. Photos of dead or handcuffed Palestinians are already a reality. After all, the government has already defeated “Palestinian terror.”

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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