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February 3, 2004

Beyond Wall and Propaganda:


Violence Begets Violence

by Ramzy Baroud

One can hardly overlook the reverberation of triumph in the words of Ariel Sharon's own chief spokesman, Ranaan Gissin on Thursday, January 29. When commenting on a suicide bombing that killed 10 Israelis and wounded others in Jerusalem, Gissin exhorted: "This terrorist attack is the best argument that we can use to defend the sacred right of Israel to exercise legitimate self-defense."

The Israeli Prime Minister's somewhat eloquent spokesman used the bloodshed in Jerusalem to kick off a major propaganda campaign, targeting Europe and the United Sates. The campaign is aimed at defending Israel's unilateral action of building a separation fence that is thrust deep into the Occupied Territories, annexing much of what many Palestinians have once hoped to be part of their future state.

Fearing a potentially embarrassing ruling by the International Court of Justice, due on February 28, on the legality of the Israeli wall, the Israeli cabinet vowed on Wednesday to challenge the court's own legal "competence" to rule on the contentious subject. It was followed by a pledge to carry out a "ramified information campaign (to be) conducted parallel to the legal proceedings."

And now, of course, the "bus bombing vindicates (the) West Bank barrier," wrote AFP, citing Gissin.

It is needless to say that suicide bombings play well into the hands of Israel, thanks in part to unbalanced and out-of-context media coverage throughout the United States, and to a lesser extent, Europe. Only Palestinians seem to target civilians "in the hearts of their cities." Israel's much higher rate of killing occupied and oppressed Palestinians is vindicated under the banner of "self-defense."

Just one day prior to the Jerusalem bombing, Israeli occupation forces killed eight Palestinians, the majority of whom were unarmed. Most of those killed in the assault on Gaza, were shot at close range, according to hospital reports. Among the wounded was an 11-year-old child, whose left eye was penetrated by a sniper bullet.

The Palestinian casualties, unlike Israeli casualties, were immediately divided into categories by the media, a stunt that is often used to dilute the revulsion of the Israeli transgression. Some of the Palestinian victims were "militants" belonging to "Islamic Jihad," a "radical Palestinian group," dedicated to the "destruction of Israel" and so on.

The Israeli aggression is therefore downplayed, to simply become an immanent necessity, not a choice.

Palestinian bombings in Israel are hardly rationalized by the fact that they often occur as a response to much more calculated aggressions carried out by Israel, like the raid on Gaza. However, only Israel can vindicate its own inhumanity, its crimes and killings. And when the tide is not turning Israel's way, then a quick cabinet meeting, a press release and decision to launch an "information campaign" in the West, is often all that Israel requires, to maintain its "moral superiority" over Palestinians.

But what else does Israel fail to put forth while defending its separation wall?

The wall is, of course, not erected along the 1967 borders, nor was it designed to shield Israel's border. Its deceptive and all-encompassing line swallows a significant percentage of the West Bank, scores of its towns and villages, and thousands of its people. If the idea was shielding Israel, then why rob Palestinians of their land in the process? If the goal is to protect Israelis, then why relocate them into the heart of the West Bank and Gaza, "settling" on stolen Palestinian land, where oppression and violence often compels a response?

An honest look at the situation truly validates the viewpoint that Israel

is only using counter Palestinian violence to further its territorial interests in the Occupied Territories, slowly annexing much of the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem, under the pretext of security and legitimate self-defense.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority's helplessness lingers on. The PA condemned Gaza's incursion and killings, and simultaneously expressed willingness to speed the foreseen meeting between Prime Minister Ahmed Qorie and Sharon. As vehemently, it also condemned the subsequent Jerusalem bombing. It is also enthusiastically training its police force to crack down on militant groups. It remains unable to take a firm stance

in which it refuses any talks under this pre-calculated Israeli war on the Palestinians. It lacks a unified Arab front that is able or willing to exert equal pressure on the United States for its support of Israel.

With the reality on the ground not changing, the future remains bleak; tit for tat remains the name of the game, an incompetent and frankly irrelevant PA, manipulative Israeli politics, and a biased American government whose only role seems to further marginalize Palestinians and embrace the policies of Sharon.

The suicide bombing in Jerusalem was yet another tragedy, provoked by equally tragic carnage in Gaza. The greater tragedy however, was exploiting the bloodshed for political gain, an opportunity for vindication and another round of propaganda, instead of a clear

realization that violence will always beget violence, no matter how giant Israel's separation wall is, no matter how well ramified its propaganda campaign may be.


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  • Ramzy Baroud is editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle. His book The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle is now out in paperback.

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