Defeating the cycle of death in Israel and Palestine

A few weeks ago three Israeli settler teenagers were kidnapped while hitchhiking in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank. The youths were taken to a field and shot in the head. This has drawn a strong military response from the Israeli Defense Forces, and from Israeli settler extremists.

Palestinian youths have been attacked and killed – in one case a Palestinian youth was burned alive. And once again, following rocket firings from the Palestinian territory of Gaza, Israeli bombs are falling over Gaza. There, countless buildings are being destroyed as a densely populated area with no way of defending itself is bombarded by weapons of destruction from an army that it has no way of defending itself against. This adds to the humanitarian crisis within Gaza as well as the West Bank.

We must take a thoughtful look at what is going on here. You have a population – the Palestinian people – that has been occupied since 1967 by a foreign power that has declared itself a democratic state – Israel. On the other hand, you have the nation of Israel which was born out of the horrors of the Holocaust and is also a functioning democracy in the Middle East. It has been sovereign for more than 60 years. This is a complex, contradictory situation.

But certain acts of resistance to unlawfulness are not acts of resistance whatsoever.

Any assault on any civilian let alone the collective punishment of civilians because of what their government has done is not an act of resistance. It is an act of terror, which in this case is extremely detrimental to the Palestinian cause.

That is so even if one chooses to recognize their other forms of resistance against uniformed military occupiers.

The murder of the three Israeli teens has been condemned by the Communist Party of Israel as well as members of the Palestinian Liberation Organization itself, among a wide range of groups on all sides.

Unfortunately, we are already seeing the summary punishment and acts of vengeful destruction against the Palestinians being carried out by the Israeli armed forces and by extremist Israeli settlers. Pretty soon one could see Gaza reoccupied by the IDF. The Israeli military claims they’re tired of the constant rocket fire from Gaza as well as terrorist plots emanating from there.

This is a quagmire that only benefits business interests who profit from war and conflict on all sides. It brings up the question of nationalism versus internationalism. Poor and working class Palestinians would benefit from uniting with poor and working class Israelis, realizing that they share a common history of being oppressed and abused by imperialist and chauvinistic powers. Reactionary terror and religious/ethnic chauvinism on either side are harmful to the ordinary people of both Israel and Palestine.

It would be good if these communities could unite and fight the very system that has scapegoated both the Jews and the Arabs from the 1940s until now. Such working class internationalism can break down the walls of reactionary nationalism and prejudice which serve as chains holding both peoples down. We in the United States should support any efforts toward this kind of unity between Palestinians and Israelis.

Photo: Israeli soldiers holding a blindfolded Palestinian man they arrested during their search for the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, in the village of Beit Kahil near the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, June 21, 2014. The three were later found dead. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)