Without condemning Palestinian atrocities against Israelis, the Palestinians lose the moral high ground and weaken their ability to condemn the many atrocities committed by Israelis. Arab fanatics, however, argue that Palestinian atrocities are not atrocities at all, and the only atrocities are committed by Israelis. That false logic undermines the powerful cause of the Palestinian people.
By Ray Hanania
Since the beginning of the year, Israeli settlers and the Israeli military have been attacking, brutalizing and, in some cases, killing Palestinian civilians.
The abuse and the oppression have created such a terrible environment of suffering that some Palestinians have been pushed to extreme violence, brutally murdering Israeli civilians.
Tragically, the violence against Israeli civilians dominates the media coverage while the Israeli abuse of Palestinians is treated as a footnote to a non-existent storyline.
This week, Palestinian terrorists exploited the escalating tensions and massacred five civilians inside a Jerusalem synagogue.
Immediately, the Israeli media focused on the few incidents of Palestinians celebrating the killings while ignoring or marginalizing the larger denunciation of the attacks by responsible Palestinian leaders.
What do we do?
The truth is that as Palestinians, I can’t tell Israelis how they can and must overcome their own terrorist extremists. But I must speak to my own people and urge them to do the right thing and not allow extremism to convince them that it justifies an extremist response.
What Israel is doing and has done to Palestinians are, as described by many international human rights organizations such as B’Tselem and Amnesty International, war crimes.
But it is wrong for Palestinians to cheer on violent retribution against Israelis or celebrate those vengeance attacks, such as the killings that took place in Jerusalem.
It’s wrong for the Palestinians to act like the Israelis. It is wrong for the Palestinians to cheer on violence against Israelis in response to the brutal oppression and violence by Israelis against Palestinians.
The correct response is to speak out against violence no matter the perpetrator. The right response is to denounce violence regardless of whether the victims are Palestinian or Israelis.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. Fanatic Israelis constantly attack Palestinians, using every incident of violence to justify their own brutality and oppression against Palestinians.
Palestinian violence has been exploited by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to block the peace process and oppose the creation of a Palestinian state.
The truth is that Netanyahu always intended to undermine the peace process, and the violence has conveniently played into his hands.
Israeli violence has also been exploited by Palestinian fanatics who also oppose peace and reject the creation of two states, Israel and Palestine.
These fanatics are demanding one-state run by Islamicists who would persecute not only Jews but Christians and secular and moderate Muslims, too.
Fanatics, warmongers and racists dominate Israel’s government, empowering the terrorism and violence of the settler movement, which is built on the theft and confiscation of Palestinian lands and property.
Israelis need to confront their own extremists, but as long as Palestinian extremism dominates the news media reports and the focus of the peace movement, Israeli fanaticism will escape justice.
It has to stop. Good people on both sides need to stop fueling the violence by expressions of emotional outbursts and anger. They need to speak out forcefully in support of peace based on two-states. They must not only denounce those that attack them but also denounce those in their own community who attack the other side.
Palestinians must denounce Palestinian violence before they can morally denounce the ongoing Israeli violence being committed against them. Israelis must denounce Israeli violence before they can morally denounce the ongoing Palestinian violence being committed against them.
Netanyahu must denounce Israeli violence and end Israeli military violence against Palestinians. Instead, he has enabled the terrorism by his excessive oppression of Palestinians — last week ordering the destruction of homes of the relatives and family of individuals accused of committing acts of violence against Israelis.
When will Netanyahu order the demolition of the homes of Israelis accused of violence against Palestinians?
Israel’s system of justice is flawed and feeds into the continuing violence.
Rather than seeing an end to the violence, we can expect to see the situation worsen.
Sadly, many innocent people will suffer. And so far, Palestinians and Israelis have no real leader to help them find their way out of this vicious cycle of violence that is being committed by both sides.
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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