“Peace Process,” cont’d

In Israel and the Occupied Territories, there has been an uptick of violence in recent weeks. The article below runs through the events. We see the usual rounds of back and forth violence, with one side implementing its terrorism through war planes, tanks, and occupation infrastructure; the other side using guerrilla tactics, snipers, and planting bombs.

The crucial context for the violence is the illegitimate occupation of Palestinian territory, in violation of international law and humanitarian principles. Gaza has been under a severe blockade since 2007, and is being systematically de-developed, to use Sara Roy’s term. Imports of food, fuel, and basic materials are restricted to the minimum necessary to avoid a wholesale humanitarian disaster. Slow death seems to be the policy. These are the conditions that breed the kind of hopeless desperation, hatred, and resentment that sometimes inspire the use of terror tactics by various Palestinian militia groups.

Terror tactics are illegitimate to those who value human life and basic rights. But the overwhelming reality is the use of state power by one side to crush a defenseless people. Any consistent application of the definition of terrorism–the killing, harming, or threatening of civilians for political purposes–results in an inescapable conclusion that Israel deploys terror on a vast scale. In a situation of extreme asymmetry, daily doses of state power are used to encircle, control, and crush the residents of occupied Palestinian territory, while their property is systematically annexed, destroyed, or rendered unproductive. Acts of peaceful resistance are crushed by the IDF. Palestinian activists and dissidents are routinely rounded up and harassed, tortured, jailed, with thousands being held prisoner by Israel at any given time. When peaceful protests such as those held weekly at Bil’in are crushed by the IDF, mainstream US news ignores them. It is only the acts of violence that are covered by the news, and used as a pretext to justify Israeli military repression and continued occupation.

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