resistance factions must stop targeting Israeli civilians, with or
without an officially bargained cease-fire and regardless of what
Israel and its reckless government do in response. This is imperative
if the Palestinian struggle is to safeguard its historic values and
maintain its morality.
some, such reasoning may seem inconsistent, one-sided even; after
all, the Israeli Army continues to target civilians unhindered, so
why deny Palestinians the right to retaliate?
have the right of self-defense, and the unequivocal right of ridding
themselves of the occupation. These rights are protected in international
law and require little debate or intellectual tussling. But it is
wrong for the occupied who surely have the moral edge
to use the same illegitimate means as the occupier. International
law makes a clear distinction, as should the Palestinian resistance,
between occupying military forces and civilians. If Palestinians waver
from this crucial line of reasoning, their historically virtuous struggle
risks being tainted with moral corruption.
Palestinian revolution was born in the orchards of Jenin as early
as the 1920s. It was and remains a freedom struggle, a cry for justice.
Typically, the overall methods used by the ongoing uprising in the
occupied territories contrasts with the ghastly practices of the Israeli
government and army. In fact, since their early days of combating
the occupation forces, Palestinians aspired to be inclusive because
they longed for equality and insisted on the universal applicability
of human rights.
values must remain intact.
every nation and Palestinians are no exception has a
breaking point. That is only human that, following decades of suffering,
violence and dispossession, the determination to gain freedom can
give way to desperation and a raw desire for vengeance. To those living
in the occupied territories, suicide bombings are part of the reality
into which Palestinians are born. Yet if Palestinians allow Israeli
tactics to influence their resistance strategy, then the authenticity
of the entire struggle is compromised. But what if Palestinian factions
overcome their sense of despair and unilaterally halt attacks on Israeli
civilians, permanently and unreservedly?
even then, the perception held of Palestinians and their struggle
is unlikely to change, at least not in the United States, where political
propaganda, not actuality, governs public opinion.
Palestinian struggle was equally and abrasively condemned in much
of the Western Hemisphere before the first suicide bombing against
Israeli civilians ever happened, less than ten years ago. This flawed
perspective continues, in defiance of logic.
all, the conquest of historic Palestine, with all the massacres it
entailed, preceded any truly collective Palestinian struggle, violent
mainstream media, most notability in the United States, is silent
about this fact. As far as Israel (and thus pro-Israeli media and
governments) is concerned, the version of history that counts is the
one that highlights Palestinian violence. Violence in the Middle East
is largely defined by Palestinian attacks; "calm" and "lull"
are words that describe intervals between Palestinian, not Israeli,
violence. The occupied territories may be drowning in Israeli violence;
but so long as no Israeli casualties are reported, much of the world
media report quiet.
suicide bombing of Oct. 4 and Dec. 25 are a case in point.
these two incidents, Palestinian losses mounted. Reportedly, 117 Palestinians
were killed, mostly civilians, including 23 children; several thousand
Palestinians were made homeless as nearly 500 homes and apartments
were destroyed by Israeli explosives or bulldozers, primarily in the
already overcrowded and poverty-stricken Gaza Strip. But according
to Palestinian-American media critic Ali Abunimah, the corporate media
in the US (and in Britain, to a lesser extent) brimmed with regret
over the squandered opportunity for peace that the December bombing
yielded (keeping in mind that the latter targeted Israeli soldiers,
Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and CNN dealt a blow to any
journalistic integrity when they chose such statements to mark the
day of the Palestinian attack: "12-Week lull in Mideast ends",
"Mideast quiet shattered", "Attacks broke a lull that
had lasted more than two months and raised fears of a slide into violence",
"There has been a relative calm since the Haifa bombing (last
October) " and so on.
pundits in the American media and government, and influential lobby
groups and think tanks find Israel's justifications for its senseless
violence and occupation of Palestinian land compelling. But even with
that in mind, injustice must not be an invitation to respond with
equally morally degrading acts. Sharon and his henchmen, of all people,
should not, in any way, determine the nature and magnitude of Palestinian
its moral edge, the Palestinian revolution must not be tainted by
the crimes of the occupier; it must not fall into the trap of fury,
racial and religious exclusivity and vengefulness against civilians.
the US media will hardly give the Palestinians credit. But should
we remain confined by media partiality and desperate for the validating
words of some government spokesman? Were these the values that inspired
and sparked the current uprising and the uprisings of the past?
bombings against civilians estrange us from the principles of the
Palestinian struggle for freedom. These values must remain untainted
so that the will of the people may some day prevail over tyranny and