Israelis and Americans Would Act Just Like Palestinians Do Today
The situation is volatile, a veritable tinderbox. If the Mideast blows up, many will die, Palestinians and Israelis.
Israel never stops claiming that it’s forced to defend itself from Palestinians. The threats it sees range from underage children throwing stones at armored military vehicles to rocket attacks from Gaza. The self-proclaimed Jewish state never asks why the stones are thrown or the rockets are fired.
Worse, Israel assumes that America would respond similarly if faced with these same security threats by Canada. In fact, Americans would ask why neighbors they’ve lived in peace with (like Jews and Arabs in the Levant) felt the need to defend themselves.
The answer is found in both versions of the movie, Red Dawn. Each shows Americans rising up against invaders/occupiers (one Russian, the other North Korean) by any means necessary. In short, US citizens, and Jewish Israeli citizens for that matter, would act just like Palestinians do today, only much more violently given their means.
Millions of Americans and Israelis have been raised on a steady diet of pro-Israeli propaganda know just one side of Middle East history: that of oppressed-but-feisty Jews fighting violent-and-treacherous Arabs. They think only Israelis bleed and only Palestinians make them. Israel has a name and governmental department in the Prime Minister’s office for such propaganda — it’s called Hasbara (see The Hasbara Apparatus by Molad — The Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy).
All of this state propaganda, today more than ever, seeks to engage in character assassinations of anyone calling Israel out for its violations of Palestinians’ rights by claiming that they are anti-Semitic. The US government, from the president on down, have joined this chorus, with the Israeli prime minister playing the role of the conductor.
Which is, of course, a lie.
After all, Jews and Arabs (Muslims and Christians) are both Semites. They are cousins who lived in peace for millennia. Then Zionism arose: the idea that European Jews needed a refuge from real antisemitism.
So far, so good. Everyone wants and deserves to feel safe in the world.
Zionists considered many places for such safety: from Uganda to Argentina, just to name two. In 1903, Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, himself, presented the Uganda option at the Sixth Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.
Again, so far, so good, as long as merely a safe haven was sought out. Problems arose when they chose the Levant post-WWI and redefined their goal.
The first problem was that people (Arab Palestinians) already lived there.
The second problem was Zionists changing their goal from a secular home to a religion-based state. They began insisting that God gave Jews all of the Levant, an argument impossible to reason with and one that the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, reiterated earlier this month by saying “Israel has one secret weapon that not too many countries have, Israel is on the side of God, and we don’t underestimate that.”
The third problem was the new Jews flooding the land were foreigners to it, not culturally like the Old Yishuv (native) Jews — Jews living in places like Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron before the aliyah (immigration wave) by the Zionist movement.
Worse, Britain gave more than half of the Levant to Jews as a home (not state!). Even so, Jews wanted more. So, they began to terrorize Arabs living in what would become Israel, then violently overran what was to be the State of Palestine. Peter Kosminsky’s four-part drama serial, The Promise (2011), powerfully unravels this segment of history.
Stopped by the international community, seemingly contrite Jews promised to set borders (not expand) and give all Israelis equal rights, the majority and minorities. Yet for the next 70 years they refused to do either. Instead, they continued to kill and harass Palestinians, stealing Arab land and treating Muslims and Christians living in Israel as inferiors. This rampage was then extended to the rest of Palestine in 1967.
Israel did this by getting endless money and weaponry from Europe and America, immunity per international laws/rulings, and by making the United Nations (later under the Oslo Peace Accords, the donor community) pay for their military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The result: seven decades of Palestinians living as (1) refugees outside Historic Palestine; (2) prisoners in a huge concentration camp inside Gaza; and (3) corralled ‘cattle’ in a West Bank that increasingly shrinks from illegal Israeli settlements.
Of course, just as the ministries and departments of “propaganda” that were used by dozens of failed states throughout history had done, Israel continued to paint themselves as eternal victims. This is seen as the failproof strategy until, that is, it abruptly collapses. Israeli Hasbara always portrays Israel’s crimes as necessary to protect innocent Jews from merciless Arab savages (think portrayal of native Indians in the US Declaration of Independence). In today’s hyper-connected world, such a strategy is collapsing in broad daylight.
What if Roles Reversed?
The truth is that, if placed in the same ill-fated predicament, Americans and Israelis would act just like Palestinians do today; some would use violence, like what emerged from Gaza recently. This is not to say that this is a smart or effective strategy, it merely is a human reaction when a community feels no other path to live exists.
Others, the majority, would use diplomatic and non-violent methods to protect their community, like boycotting and divesting from their occupier and refusing to attend an “economic workshop” called for by a third party in a foreign venue aimed at beautifying life in their cages of military occupation. These non-violent strategies would become a rallying call to mobilize all four corners of the earth to hold the occupying state accountable.
Imagine, for example, China suddenly invading New York City claiming that a Golden Sky-Dragon gave it all of Manhattan. Imagine further that native New Yorkers were forced into just two boroughs, all their assets forfeited. Furthermore, every aspect of their new lives will be controlled by the Red Army.
Suppose further that Russia, North Korea, and others block UN resolutions to punish China, and funds its illegal invasion/occupation. How long do you think red-blooded Americans would put up with that and not fight back?
Palestinians have tried every form of protest — from armed resistance to civil disobedience to negotiations to lawsuits to boycotts. Nothing has worked. Israel, like 18th-century England (the US Declaration of Independence lists 27 grievances that British King George III ignored), blocks all forms of redress while continuing to kill, land grab, and steal resources.
Palestinians are being pushed into ever-smaller enclaves with less and less to lose. The situation is volatile, a veritable tinderbox. If the Mideast blows up, many will die, Palestinians and Israelis. It would be a historic tragedy for history to look back, yet again, and question how a developed, modern society allowed itself to be governed into never-ending turmoil.
Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business consultant from Ramallah/Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He is chair of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy (AVPE) and serves as a policy adviser to Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network and is co-editor of “Homeland: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians” (1994). He blogs at ePalestine.com. @SamBahour