I can not tell you how sick I am of pictures of handcuffed Palestinian children in IDF custody with the hashtag bring back our boys. That is our hashtag! You Palestinian tweeters are accomplishing nothing by streaming grotesque pictures, and that stupid three fingered salute other than just plain old being mean.
I take that back, you are accomplishing the destruction of any good will or sympathy to your plight that might have been engendered over these last “relatively” peaceful years.
The Palestinian activists are, as usual, hurting themselves, their cause, and their people far more than helping it.
I recently had the opportunity to meet with Palestinian activists in Hebron. It was part of a program designed to promote dialogue between the two sides of the conflict. By dialogue of course I mean, we were supposed to listen, they talked. I listened, I really did. Two things were clear. One was the suffering and inconvenience you, my Palestinian neighbors, are forced to endure in your daily lives, the checkpoints, road blocks, random searches, arrests, and collective punishment are real. I saw how painful and humiliating it is for you.
The other thing that was clear was the complete lack of acknowledgement or awareness of any personal or communal responsibility for your situation. To every person we heard from without exception, every drop of suffering is caused by Israel, by the occupation and mostly by “settlers” always unjustly by others.
I did a whole day of “listening”. Every story, I mean every one, began with some form of “I was walking along, minding my own business, when for no reason what so ever…”
At one point an activist brought his ten year old little brother into the room, and told the story of the day little Musa was (of course), walking down the road minding his own business when all of a sudden for no reason what-so-ever, IDF soldiers grabbed him, threw him to the ground, tied his hands behind his back with plastic handcuffs, blindfolded him, and threw him in the back of an arrest van. They took him into military custody in which he remained for 24 hours until his parents where able to pay to have him released. How is that any different from kidnapping?!! Ransoming!!!
I raised my hand to ask Musa a question, not expecting a truthful answer. To my surprise I did get a truthful answer although one that totally obfuscated the boy’s personal responsibility.
“Musa”, I asked through his brother who was translating. “Were you throwing rocks at cars?”
His brother then launched into a diatribe about how rock throwing is a natural reaction to the daily oppression and humiliation his people are suffering, and how basic human dignity as well as international law permits, nay requires oppressed people to resist occupation.
Allow me to clarify. The little pisher was throwing fist sized rocks at passing cars with Israeli license plates. Cars driven by civilians, long skirted, beticheled mothers with car seats full of little kids in the back and got busted by the authorities.
This “detail” of the story was a non fact however. The thought consensus I heard echoed over the course of this entire day, was that since the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, or “the West Bank”, is such a self-evident violation of everything good and decent, such an obvious breach of human rights, such an undeniable injustice flying in the face of international law, any resistance to that occupation is so self evidently justified that it is deemed an inconsequential fact in the story.
The actions that led up to the arrest of this 10 year old boy are as unimportant as the fact the boy was breathing, and therefore irrelevant to the rest of the story.
If you remove this context in which Musa was arrested, what you are left with is, well, he was indeed walking along minding his own business when out of the blue…
So I believe that this is where dialogue can be helpful.
This is my message to the Palestinian activists on the streets, and especially those trying to abscond with our bring back our boys hashtag.
We don’t hate you. We have no interest in militarily occupying or oppressing you, we do not want to control your movements prevent you from receiving medical care, or visiting your great aunt in Nablus during Ramadan.
We do not enjoy any of those things. We have better things to do. However, we are more than capable and willing to carry out any of those actions when our safety is endangered. And as you know, we will.
If you touch our kids, as you are seeing, we will come down on you like a load of bricks.
We are not asking you to believe our “narrative”. We are not looking for your sympathy.
What you need to know is that we believe our story, as much as you believe yours, and we are here to stay. I do not believe that I am a “settler”, or a “colonist”. I am a Jew. My people are the original indigenous inhabitants of this land. We are Jews not because our religion is Jewish, we are Jews because we come from Judea. Claiming that the Jews are occupying Judea is a ridiculous statement.
Again, you do not have to believe this. You can call us settlers if you like. You can call us three headed spacemen for all we care. What you need to know is that in 1995 there were about 150,000 Jews living in Eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, today there are close to 600,000 and we are growing everyday. We are living, building and thriving. We have industry, agriculture, and commerce. We are at a critical mass that makes the vision of two states for two peoples an utter impossibility. It is not going to happen.
The last failure of John Kerry and President Barak Obama, was the final hammer blow to the possibility of a Palestinian state. It will never be. You know in your heart if not in your head that this is true.
So the question becomes, where do we go from here?
I can accept the fact that you, my Palestinian brothers and sisters, feel that it is “unfair”, even “unjust” that because we have the far superior military force we get to dictate the terms of the outcome. You can believe that as long as you realize, that is the way the world works.
By railing violently against the reality of the situation you are perpetuating your own suffering. Your myopic focus on your own victimhood, will do nothing but ensure another generation of disenfranchised suffering Palestinians screaming on twitter about their own victim status.
Launching rockets, throwing stones, and kidnapping our children will result in exponentially higher levels of suffering for you. That suffering may indeed give you short term PR wins, but ultimately it will keep you poor, downtrodden, and well… suffering.
On the other hand, embracing the reality of the situation, that the Jewish people are here to stay, opens an opportunity to you that exists no where else in the entire region.
If you stopped fighting and realized that we must live together, you would be the freest, and safest people in the entire Arab world. You would be the envy of all but the tiny wealthy ruling elite of your people. You have the ability as a people, to put aside your hatred, put down the rocks and the rockets and #BringBackOurBoys.