Why Have Palestinians Turned to Violence?

By Ray Hanania

October 22, 2015 6 min read

There are so few places where you can go to find inspiration and hope in the escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a violence partially fed by frustration and the imbalance of power between the two sides.

The Palestinian National "Authority" has no authority at all. They can only do what Israel's government allows them to do. Israel's government leadership has all the power, and they abuse it often. Instead of using that power to promote peace, Israel's government has blocked peace by expanding settlements, curtailing non-Jewish rights, and assaulting holy sites of Palestinian Muslims and Christians.

In the face of hopelessness, some Palestinians have turned to violence, but Israelis simply refuse to make the connection between the knife attacks and the discrimination and violence against them by Israel's soldiers, police and heavily armed settlers.

Rather than answering their own question of why a few Palestinians, oppressed, occupied, denied equal rights and left with no hope for freedom, would turn to violence, the Israelis simply use the violence to justify more oppression.

I understand why some Palestinians have resorted to whatever violent means are at their limited disposal. Israeli policy has stripped them of every ounce of dignity and hope.

I don't agree with the violence. Violence is never justified. Killing Israelis will not bring freedom. I don't want Palestinian to kill Israelis. And I don't want Israelis to kill Palestinians. It's easier to kill Palestinians than it is to kill Israelis. In this conflict, it's not news when a Palestinian non-Jew is killed. It's only news when an Israeli Jew is killed.

Israel's government has cultivated an avalanche of emotion-driven hatred, racism and discrimination that is protected by the Israeli journalists in the Israeli media who also work for the mainstream American news media. These unethical writers have exaggerated the violence of Palestinians while downplaying, ignoring or excusing the violence by Israelis.

Israel is humanizing Israeli victims while demonizing Palestinian victims.

The double standard is so outrageous it has become easy for Israeli journalists in Israel and in America to defend Israeli violence as a "response."

It's an interesting phenomenon almost exclusive to Israel. The more outrageous an act of violence against an Israeli, the easier for Israelis to justify violence against non-Jews.

Last week, a Palestinian took a weapon from an armed Israeli at a bus station in Beersheba, and killed him. He seriously wounded several other Israelis.

The Palestinian assailant was quickly killed. But, the violence didn't stop with the assailant's death, because in Israel, it never does.

The mob turned on 29-year-old Eritrean immigrant, Haftom Zarhum, who was seeking citizenship in Israel. Zarhum had nothing to do with the violence at all. He was shot by an Israeli "security" guard. Worse, as Zarhum was on the ground motionless and bleeding profusely, he was beaten by nearby Israeli Jewish citizens. They slammed him with chairs and one Israeli fired his handgun into his back. They yelled curse words in Arabic, clearly suggesting they believed he was "Arab."

This wasn't an isolated incident. This has played out several times before as Palestinians suspected of wielding knives were shot and left to die on the pavement while Israeli Jews kicked them and screamed curse words in Arabic. Some of the Palestinians killed like this were children.

The biased Israeli and American news media played these incidents down. And even the killing of the Eritrean might not have been so brutally revealed had it not been for a cellphone video that was posted on YouTube.

Even the surveillance video from the bus depot released by the government left out much of the viciousness of the attack against Zarhum.

Israel is built on a racism that separates Jews from non-Jews. The government has used various forms of oppression to control the non-Jewish population in the "Jewish State," embracing aspects of apartheid and the acceptance of outright racism. Racism is accepted in Israel as a fact of life, caused by Palestinian violence, they assert.

With the mainstream American news media in their back pocket, the Israelis get away with it. And the Arab world has helped to make it easy for Israel's government to do this because the Arab world governments and media are so ineffective and dysfunctional.

Why does a Palestinian attack Israeli Jews?

It's not anti-Semitism, as the Israeli media contends. It's because of the endless brutal oppression, the discrimination, the theft of lands, the denial of civil rights, and the absence of equal rights and justice in the Israeli courts against non-Jews.

When given no chance for freedom, violence becomes the only option for victims.

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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