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I’m Palestinian and I’ve been incited

Israeli government ministers, ‘Arab affairs’ analysts, and regular citizens incite against us — but they’re also inciting us. And yet, despite it all, we restrain ourselves.

By Umar al-Ghubari (translated by Richard Flantz)

Young Palestinians demonstrate against the Prawer Plan in East Jerusalem, November 30, 2013. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Young Palestinians demonstrate against the Prawer Plan in East Jerusalem, November 30, 2013. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Yes, you read the headline correctly: I’m an incited Palestinian. Every day they incite me. My most prominent and significant inciters are the leaders, the commentators and most of the journalists of the State of Israel, and ordinary Israelis too. Social networks and the masses of online commenters in Israel comprise a volcano of incitement. It’s clear to me that they actually want to incite against Palestinians, but their words come back like a boomerang and incite the Palestinians, too.

A newscast on any given Israeli television channel is a proven recipe for angering and inciting Palestinian viewers. Analyses and predictions by Zionist commentators constitute aggression and provocations to Palestinians. The despicable verbiage of people who call themselves “experts on Arab affairs” is laden with slander and manipulations that arouse disgust toward Arabs, and when Arabs hear them they mainly feel dread and explode in anger.

Yes, it’s they who incite me and make me fume. Every time Israeli leaders talk about Arabs, Palestinians, or any other formulation drawn from these words, they express hostile, racist, patronizing, threatening and humiliating attitudes with alarming ease. There is no doubt that the current prime minister is a star in this context, but he hasn’t invented a thing. He may have improved the method and embellished the formulations, but he has no exclusivity over racism. We’re talking about his words and his actions these days only because he is the apex of the pyramid of the regime, not because he is exceptional or any more extreme than the prime ministers who preceded him.

This attitude toward Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular is deeply rooted in Zionist thought. Although it is expressed in different ways, in diverse formulations and in various doses, at its base this is a consistent line that stems from a racist world view, whose seeds were planted with the crystallization of the idea of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. In his book The Jewish State (1896), Herzl wrote: “We should there [in Palestine] form a portion of a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.” Which Israeli leader has not believed, expressed himself, or thought in a similar way?

The majority of Palestinians in Israel understand Hebrew. They sit watching the television screens in one of their ghettoes, in Galilee, in Wadi ’Ara, in the center of the country and in the Negev; they hear the threats and absorb the humiliations poured into their faces from the Israeli TV channels. They’re incited even more by the claim about the only democracy in the Middle East that they are benefiting from. This maddens them. Frustrated, they look out the window to seek and to feel the democracy that isn’t there.

The prime minister attacks us, preaches to us and wants to educate us, and each of these teaching sessions is one more dose of incitement, not only incitement against the Palestinians, but also incitement of the Palestinians. Each speech of his sounds like a call for an uprising. This kind of approach necessarily increases the impulse of rebelliousness. What incites us is everything that Zionism has created around us. Those who incite me are not the Arab leaders, not from the Palestinian Authority, not from the Islamic Movement, and not from Balad. For incitement, they’re unnecessary. Who needs them when we have the State of Israel, its leaders, its branches, its deeds, and a large number of its Jews?

Those who incite me are those who forced a Greek airline to remove two Palestinian Arabs from a plane, those who shout at a wounded Palestinian boy “Die, you son of a whore”, those who sing out “Death to the Arabs” in public and in front of the cameras, those who have destroyed the village of al-Araqib more than 90 times; the fact that people are living in the houses of Palestinian refugees in Ein Hod, in Talbiyeh, and in Be’er Sheva; those whose herds of cattle piss on the graves of Palestinians in Yalu (Canada Park), in Simsim (Gvaot Bar) and in Kafr Sabt (Sdeh Ilan); those who have built hundreds of new settlements for Jews and not one for Arabs; those who invest nine times more on a Jewish student than on an Arab student, those who are Judaizing the country, and those who are currently carrying out a revenge action in ‘Ar‘ara.

Signs telling the Palestinian history of Bir'em were removed by authorities (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Israeli couples picnics near offensive graffiti sprayed on the ruins of the destroyed Palestinian village of Bir’am. (Oren Ziv / Activestills) (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

We’re encompassed by countless things and people that incite us at any given moment, and there’s no way of evading it all.

And yet, we manage to restrain ourselves.

Say Thanks

In exchange for this restraint, Israelis should invent a weekly custom of thanksgiving. From the prime minister to the ordinary citizen, through the ministers, the members of parliament, policemen, judges, educators, merchants and all the other Jews living in this country. Let them start their week, every week, every Sunday morning, preferably at the same time, with a prayer like this one:

“At the beginning of this week, before we start working, we want to once again express our thanks and appreciation to the sons and daughters of the Palestinian people: to those whom we conquered in 1948, most of whom we expelled and prevented their return; whose towns and villages and schools, prayer-houses and cemeteries we destroyed; whom we dispossessed of their land, on which we built hundreds of Jewish settlements, and to this day whom we continuing to oppress. And to those whom we conquered in 1967, some of whom we expelled, stifled their towns and their villages, dispossessed them of their lands, took control of their treasures, among whom we built new settlements despite their opposition, and to this day whom we continuing to oppress and persecute, to limit their movement, to enclose them and deny them their freedom. To all of you, male and female, villagers and city dwellers – in what remains, in the ghettoes and the refugee camps, we want to thank you for the fact that this week, too, you have continued to restrain yourselves and have not risen up and revolted against the Jewish dictatorship in your country, the land of your birth. Thank you very much.”

Umar al Ghubari is group facilitator, a political educator, and he documents and photographs the Palestinian Nakba. This article was first published published in Hebrew on Local Call — read it here.

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    1. carmen

      Excellent article. Pay no attention to “baruch gottesman” and his constant propaganda (it’s a living, right baruch?) and his continued claim of victimization. Honestly why do his racist rants continue to find succor here?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      Poor Gottesman. Sad case. No one’s paying for that lunacy, I’m sure of that.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      Israelis don’t want to confront the ugly truth about the occupation

      That’s too bad, because in not one case have reports and testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence been proved wrong.

      Ze’ev Sternhell

      “…If there’s one thing I regret as a citizen it’s that I and my generation, as well as the one before us, the War of Independence generation, were party to a conspiracy of silence surrounding the Israel Defense Forces in this country’s first 20 years. If we had only spoken out then, when we first heard rumors about the killing of Egyptian prisoners – first in the Sinai Campaign and then in the Six-Day War – and if we had only forced the General Staff to investigate and prosecute those responsible, we would have had a different army when the occupation became entrenched.

      If anyone had broken the silence after the revenge attack and massacre in the village of Qibya in 1953, other norms of combat would have been established, as well as norms of behavior among our political elites.

      If only David Ben-Gurion had learned the hard way in 1953 that there’s a price for lying and deceiving people. If only he had learned that there’s a price for fostering a specious cult whereby our arms are always “pure” (the term before “the most moral army in the world” came in vogue), maybe Israel would have found it harder to get away with subterfuge after 1967, robbing land and sending its young soldiers to harass an occupied population…”


      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben

      More Sternhell:

      “Now to the argument about washing our dirty laundry abroad. Today there are no more sealed laundromats; dirty laundry flutters in the breeze. Thus appealing to American Jews and European public opinion, including EU institutions, is inevitable and legitimate for two further reasons.

      First, the IDF punishes soldiers in only a tiny fraction of complaints it learns of, while ignoring the majority. Second, it’s currently impossible to attain tangible results in any issue pertaining to the occupation and the apartheid in the territories without external intervention. The army would be even more violent were it not for the fear of international sanctions.

      Indeed, since the nation doesn’t want to know and its leaders are either partners to the oppression or too pusillanimous – Isaac Herzog and Yair Lapid lead this camp – only externally imposed sanctions will break its repose. This is a historic role played by all the groups that oppose the occupation, and because of this they deserve our respect and strong support.”

      Reply to Comment