Monday, February 01, 2010
A dark lining in every silver cloud, Ray Hanania, Jerusalem Post
A dark lining in every silver cloud
By Ray Hanania
Published in the Jerusalem Post Jan. 30, 2010
Why can’t we say that the recent reports of a reduction in violence is a result of improved relations? That maybe we are starting to hate each other less?
There were no suicide bombings in Israel in 2009. That doesn’t mean no one was killed. Media reports, including in The Jerusalem Post, note that five Israelis were killed in Israel and the West Bank last year. About 49 Israelis were wounded in attacks, not including those injured during Operation Cast Lead at the beginning of last year.
I am surprised, though, that Israelis didn’t give all the credit to the wall, which they call a fence, even though in reality it is a “wall” where it is around people and a “fence” where it is around farmland and open space.
Instead, some give credit for the lower casualties and deaths to war in the Gaza Strip. Others say it’s because of better security and the ability to prevent Palestinians from arming themselves. The focus is on the perpetrators, not those engaged in peace.
How about giving some credit to the majority of Palestinians who didn’t engage in violence, who didn’t engage in protests and who watch Israel’s government continue its policies of expanding the settlements in the West Bank and around Jerusalem, including on my land just north of Gilo?
During the same period, there were many Israeli assaults, mostly by the military and some by the settlers, against Palestinians. According to The Washington Post, 27 Palestinians were killed in “conflict related violence,” down by half from 2008. That doesn’t include the more than 1,000 killed during the war in Gaza.
It has become kind of an industry in Israel and Palestine. I mean, of course, not the killings, but tabulating death tolls from violence. It says something that it is easier to find out how many Israelis and Palestinians were killed by each other than in car accidents or suicide.
It’s almost like dying from natural causes or accidents doesn’t matter as much.
THE GAZA Strip isn’t occupied by Israel any more, although it is certainly controlled by Israel, with the help of Egypt – I’m not sure if that is better than it would be if it were reversed and the Egyptians controlled Gaza with Israel’s help.
But the West Bank and east Jerusalem are, and that’s where my focus is. Why can’t we say the reduction in violence is a result of improved relations? That we are starting to hate each other less?
Why isn’t that reduction in violence an impetus for both sides to ramp-up (an American corporate term that has nothing to do with building Israelis-only roads in the West Bank, by the way) peace talks?
Doesn’t anyone believe that if peace talks resume in earnest, there will be even fewer deaths? “Earnest” means Palestinians speak genuinely about peace and out loud against the violence, and Israelis stop advocating settlement expansion and start looking at shutting some down while easing restrictions.
Is it too much to believe that peace generates more peace? And that peace is the better “wall” or the better “fence,” depending on which side of the conflict you stand?
I own 33 dunams of land next to Gilo near the Muslim village of Sharafat, the “Tarud” land (one of my mother’s families from Bethlehem). The Israelis are planning to confiscate it and build new homes.
I won’t resort to violence, although I bet many others would if it was their land being taken. I will go to the courts and fight and demand that everyone who buys or takes a home there be sued. The court system is where much of this conflict should be taken, not to a violent battlefield.
But I understand that it’s easier to do things in the face of violence than it is in the face of peace. The unknown investors in Jerusalem who are licking their chops at profiting from my land want it this way. The violence allows them to continue to take and profit.
I know the extremists among the Palestinians also are licking their chops knowing that although they speak out against the land confiscations and settlement expansions, those actions give them perceived public approval to engage in more violence against Israel.
Imagine if the land confiscations ended, and the settlements were really frozen, that peace talks could blossom and even fewer people will die. Wouldn’t it be nice if next year, we read stories that reports no Israelis and no Palestinians were killed? Peace talks increased?
That’s the silver lining in the dark clouds above our lives today. We can have that, or we can continue to look for the usual dark linings in the rare silver clouds.
In the meantime, if you know of a good lawyer who doesn’t mind representing Palestinian rights in lands controlled by Israel, have them give me a call. I won’t engage in violence, encourage violence or enable violence to achieve my rights.
It’s something we all should try, don’t you think?