This is a day in which people on all sides have a choice in the I/P conflict. They can either engage in violence, mass arrests, and hate speech, or they can join with the Jews and Palestinians in solidarity in taking to the streets and calling for change.
Either side can end this conflict tomorrow. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas can do it by respecting the wishes of the protestors and holding unity elections that will bring about a Democratically elected Palestinian government as well as seeking the killers of the Fogel family as well as bringing to justice anyone who launches rocket attacks against Israel. Israel can end this tomorrow by dismantling the settlements and end their policy of collective punishment against the Palestinian people.
Some people have already made their choice. Gilad Atzmon, for instance, chooses to engage in comparing Israel to the Nazis. He draws a deeply disturbing picture of the Nazi symbol morphing into the Star of David. The problem is that there is no comparison. Certain people are willing to believe the worst about their enemies, but there is no comparison here -- Israel does not engage in slave labor, have gas chambers where they ship people off to die, or engage in a program of world conquest like Hitler did.
This is a struggle for the basic dignity and justice for the Palestinian people. Atzmon loses sight of this. The struggle will not end until a solution is found that will ensure the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people. To criticize the German people for ignoring what he says is their "glorious past" like Atzmon did has nothing to do with the subject matter at hand. This struggle is just like our own Revolutionary War -- if Washington had surrendered to the British, the struggle would have gone on -- there were too many injuries and usurpations that the British were guilty of for it to stop. All it would have done was set back the cause for a few years.
Certain people on the other side have made their choice as well. The wave of hate speech by the son of Ariel Sharon is astounding:
In the article, published in the op-ed section of the paper, [Gilad] Sharon writes, “Don’t forget with whom we have business: it is possible to take the Palestinian predator and place on it some mask of a fluent English speaker. It is possible to put it in a three piece suit and silk tie. But once every so often – on a full moon, when a crow’s droppings land on the head of a howling jackal or when the pita with zatar didn’t work out – then this animal believes that the night is his, and instinctively goes out at dawn for prey.”
When Sharon finished his biologically racist comments, he continued with culturally racist statements, saying “A society capable of glorifying death and whose best sons are stabbers of babies is simply not a society like ours... They look at us. We are everything they never were and will never be. We possess a history and culture of two thousand years, a developed and correct society – while they are products of our Zionism. ..They look at themselves through our image. And the more we succeed and progress, the more their hatred increases.”
And other radical extremists on the Israeli side are towing the Bush line and saying that we have to fight them over there so we don't fight them over here. Hanoch Daum, in Ynet, for instance, engages in calling people "subhuman" in a mainstream paper and says this:
Regardless of our diplomatic vision, security must be above all else. We can keep talking at length about painful concessions, but as long as on the other side we have blood-thirsty psychopaths capable of knifing an 11-year-old child, a four-year-old boy, and a baby who was just born, such talk would mostly be futile.
We have to recognize the following fact: Inhumane elements exist in the other camp. These are terrorists that Israel must eliminate, before they kill our children.
Give me a break -- every country has these sorts of psychopaths who believe the world revolves only around them. The fact that each country has a minority of people with minds that hate in the manner described should not derail the peace process. And the racist Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is engaging in his usual round of conspiracy theories regarding Hamas and Iran.
Returning to Atzmon for a moment, a much better comparison for the Israeli government is with the Bush administration. Israel, like the Bush administration, is using tragedies to whitewash wrongdoing. Israel, like the Bush administration, is waging a war of aggression and engaging in a policy of perpetual warfare against the Palestinian people. Israel, like the Bush administration, uses White Phosphorus against the Palestinians like Bush did in Iraq. The entire Neocon movement was born out of a desire to protect a right-wing Israel -- a euphimism to justify wars of aggression.
And the Israeli government is enabling these hatemongers with their usual round of collective punishment as they continue to use the Fogel murders as an excuse to whitewash their war of aggression against the Palestinian people. They have arrested 100 to 300 people in Awarta even though as ISM points out:
The army hasn’t presented any evidence that the murderer was from Awarta, and villagers have said to the ISM that they strongly doubt the murderer was even Palestinian as the settlement is so heavily guarded it would be impossible to break in. Soldiers are beating people and continuing their house raids: destroying houses from the inside, cutting off electricity, and polluting the drinking water by throwing mud in the water-tanks. 30 homes were occupied by soldiers last night. Computers and phones have been destroyed and money and property were stolen by the soldiers.
And settlers continue to engage in violence unchecked by the Israeli military:
Settlers were seen setting fire to an agricultural field north of Ramallah overnight, while a mob entered a town east of Qalqiliya and set fire to civilian vehicles as Palestinians in the West Bank remain fearful.
So if the Israeli government is serious about wanting the Palestinian government to reign in their militants, then they need to police their own.
And the Jewish National Fund has made their choice, choosing to bulldoze a Bedouin village:
Protestors marched to an Israeli bulldozer encampment in the Negev desert last weekend with one simple demand: stop the destruction of the Palestinian Bedouin village of al-Araqib. The bulldozers belong to the Jewish National Fund, which has commissioned al-Araqib's destruction in order to plant a forest in the village's place. This practice, activists say, isn't an isolated case but one of many instances where the JNF has been complicit in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
And in an item that does not make the mainstream media, the Israeli government is engaging in a systematic attack on Palestinian culture by destroying Lifta Village:
Lifta must be preserved and rebuilt by/for its original owners to raise awareness about the history of 1948. The original Palestinian inhabitants of Lifta, their memories of the village, their exile and longing to return home must be respected and supported by local and international community institutions and organizations. The Palestinian refugees, the original inhabitants of Lifta are appealing to the international community to stop Israeli attempts to erase the remainder of their homes, history, culture and heritage and to oblige Israel to make it possible for them to return to their homes and to exercise their rights to their land and property. Israel should not be allowed to continue justifying its annexation practices and policies of denying Palestinian rights in order to build luxury apartments exclusively for Jews.
The people who are protesting today, both Jews and Palestinians, have chosen a different way. They are tired of the same old politics as usual and the same old excuses that are routinely trotted out to justify the wave of hate, violence, and brutality that has occurred over the last 40 years. If the Israeli and Palestinian governments are serious about wanting peace, then they need to encourage closer ties between Israeli and Palestinian people so that a solution can be found from the ground up. After all these years, our politicians have failed us -- they have not come up with a solution to this conflict. It is time to try a different way -- by reporting everything that happens and starting from the bottom up.