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To stop the attacks, Israelis have to see the whole picture

It’s impossible to understand today’s Israeli-Palestinian reality by looking — without any context — only at stabbings and vehicle attacks. Israel is not the only player in the game, and it must come to grips with that if the flames are to ever die down.

Police investigators collect evidence and ZAKA volunteers collect blood from the spot where an Israeli soldier was stabbed and killed Monday outside a Tel Aviv train station, November 10, 2014. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Police investigators collect evidence and ZAKA volunteers collect blood from the spot where an Israeli soldier was stabbed and killed Monday outside a Tel Aviv train station, November 10, 2014. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

A difficult day has come to an end. Two stabbing attacks were carried out within a short span of time: one took the life of a young woman in Gush Etzion in the West Bank; the second took the life of a young soldier. At the time of writing, I can’t help but feel that today’s bloodletting has yet to come to an end.

In this chaotic reality there is only one thing one can say for sure: by the end of the day, Israel’s cabinet ministers and MKs will compete over who can come up with the most furious, shocked and fiery responses; who will pull out the biggest stick to strike back at terrorism; and who will summon the Israeli public’s anxieties in order to intensify them for the sake of political gain. So just before our leaders reach for the keyboard or the first open microphone, perhaps it would be wise to say a few things.

The terrible terrorist attacks that took place today are part of a campaign that the Israeli government is able to but does not want to curb – a campaign that it knowingly emboldens. We can only guess how many politicians and security establishment types will appear on our televisions in the next newscast, imploring us to view reality strictly through a contextless prism of the latest events: “they” don’t want us here; “they” are thirsty for Jewish blood; “they” are a threat we must deal with forcefully. And whoever doesn’t understand all this and goes out to protest must go “there.

Read also: Israel’s police aren’t very good at lying in Arabic

The security forces have already had to deal with the ineffectiveness of our heavy-handed and forceful policy in Jerusalem. But the truth is that no solution will work as long as we refuse to see the situation with a panoramic view that takes into account all its components. And those components include Palestinians’ deep and real fear about Israel’s latest moves to change the status quo in the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. It includes the Palestinian understanding that Palestinian lives, whether in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza are worthless. It includes the recognition that Israel is constantly minimizing the chances for a nonviolent Palestinian struggle, while strengthening its hold on the occupied territories every day.

In order to understand what is happening here one must recognize the fact that these extreme acts of violence are not disconnected from, say, the cabinet’s recent decision to support automatically extending Israeli law to settlements in the West Bank. These acts of violence are not disconnected from the decision to forbid Palestinians from riding on the same buses as settlers. They are not disconnected from contingency plans for the expropriation of thousands of acres of land in the West Bank in order to pave apartheid roads, from allowing settlers to take over Palestinian homes or from the collective punishment imposed on residents of East Jerusalem.

Read also: The ‘Jerusalem Intifada,’ the president and the cliff

Making these connections is in no way intended to justify today’s stabbing attack, or any other act of violence. But making these connections allows us to understand a crucial point: Israel cannot continue to act as if it is the only player in the game, while at best totally ignoring the Palestinian side and at worst continuing to oppress and dispossess, all the while expecting everything to be business as usual. If the rules of the game as they are written by Israel are “take all you can” – through land expropriation, settlement building and legislation — then the Palestinian version will be “strike back as hard as you can.” This, of course, is a disastrous course for both sides.

This doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game, and one side’s gain needs not – or rather, cannot – come at the expense of the other.

The definition of the word “neighbor” in Persian is, one with whom you share the shade. Our neighbors here are the ones with whom we share the same shade. Israel must make a decision: either we are saved along with our neighbors, or we both go down together.

What Palestinian media is saying about the Jerusalem violence
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Netanyahu says protesters ‘can go to Palestine’

This article was first published on +972’s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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    1. Pedro X

      Just what we need some mumbo jumbo advice:

      “Israel must make a decision: either we are saved along with our neighbors, or we both go down together.”

      Orly, go tell that to Hamas and their buddies Isis and Hezbollah. Look at neighboring states like Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, and one will see that Arabs are taking each other down. Muslims fighting Muslims and killing Christians. No amount of hand holding and singing Kumba yah will pacify the cries of slaughter the Jews from our Arab neighbors.

      If Israel is to emulate any Arab country it should be Egypt. Do what Egypt did to Morsi and the Muslim brotherhood. Arrest, jail and kill those who threaten the state and incite violence and murder against its citizens.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Is Shimon Peres not one of the world’s biggest fakes? One of the worlds biggest hypocrites?:

        “Last year, the United Nations reported that Israeli settlers damaged or destroyed nearly 11,000 olive trees and saplings owned by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. The trees were burned, toppled by bulldozers, felled with chain saws.

        For Jews, Christians and Muslims, the olive tree is a symbol of peace and a promise for the future. Many of the trees in the West Bank, their trunks twisted and pocked with age, are hundreds of years old.

        When Pope Francis brought then-Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican earlier this year for a “prayer summit,” the three took time to plant an olive tree in the papal gardens.

        With the start of the olive harvest this year, Palestinian officials and international monitors have already reported the first incidents: Families chased from their olive grove by settlers slinging rocks. Bags of harvested olives stolen. Hundreds of trees destroyed.”

        Reply to Comment
        • How easily they destroy lives, homes, cities, towns, villages and olive trees hundreds of years old. Heathens, with no regard for anything but themselves.

          Reply to Comment
          • “Rubbish. UN has no means to count trees in Canaan.”
            Have you ever heard of UN envoys? Ban Ki Moon doesn’t actually have to make the trip and count them himself; you know, progress and all. 450 trees just since October 10, 2014.

            UN envoy alarmed by attacks on Palestinian trees

            B’Tselem: 450 olive trees damaged or uprooted in past few days

            By AP and Gabe Fisher October 14, 2012, 2:01 pm44

            JERUSALEM — The UN’s Middle East envoy said on Sunday that he’s alarmed by attacks blamed on Israeli settlers against Palestinian farmers and their olive trees.

            Robert Serry, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said that Israel must do more to protect Palestinians and their property in the West Bank in a statement sent to reporters.

            Israel’s military had no immediate comment. The West Bank, claimed by the Palestinians for a state, is under Israeli military rule.

            “I am alarmed at recent reports that Israeli settlers in the West Bank have repeatedly attacked Palestinian farmers and destroyed hundreds of their olive trees at the height of the harvest season,” Serry wrote. “These acts are reprehensible and I call on the Government of Israel to bring those responsible to justice.”

            He continued: “Israel must live up to its commitments under international law to protect Palestinians and their property in the occupied territory so that the olive harvest – a crucial component of Palestinian livelihoods and the Palestinian economy – can proceed unhindered and in peace.”

            An Israeli rights organization, B’Tselem, counts 450 Palestinian-owned trees either damaged or uprooted since the harvest season began on October 10.

            Every year a small number of extremist Jewish settlers carry out attacks during harvest season. Most attacks occur close to Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Olive groves provide crucial income for Palestinian farmers.

            Read more: UN envoy alarmed by attacks on Palestinian trees | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/un-envoy-alarmed-by-attacks-on-palestinian-trees/#ixzz3Ilbxyeai

            Reply to Comment
          • Josh

            Bullshit from a bullshit fascists blog. No surprise you belive their nonsense. Watch out for the chemtrails, lunatic

            Reply to Comment
    2. Bruce Gould

      There are these demonstrations all over the place with people carrying signs that say “The Occupation Is The Problem” – but the word ‘occupation’ doesn’t mean much to most Americans, we haven’t been occupied for a century. I didn’t understand what ‘occupation’ meant until I heard two guys from Yesh Gvul talking about their time in the IDF in Hebron. One night (they said) a Palestinian guy approached their checkpoint; they told him to stop with loudspeakers. For some reason he didn’t stop, they opened fire and when they went over to the body they discovered they had just killed a guy carrying bread home to his family. Then they showed pictures of Israeli soldiers ‘amusing’ themselves with Palestinian captives (for some reason when people torment each other they like to take pictures) – think Abu Ghraib lite. All occupations turn into Philip Zimbardo’s prisoner experiment, no matter how benignly it starts out.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Sam

      Israelis learn from the Kurds’ experience in Syria and Iraq . With ISIS advancing towards their villages the Kurds never imagined that their neighbors, Arab Sunnis, would join with the foreign Sunnni Arabs of ISIS. after the valiant Kurds repelled ISIS they understood their Arab neighbors felt closer to Arab foreign coreligionists
      them to their Kurdish neighbors inspite of decades of living together. And so they expelled and continue to expell Arab Sunnis from their midst. The Kurds understood it would be best for all to send off this 5th column to live with those they feel close to in any of the 22 Arab League countries. Israelis with who would the Arabs in your midst side even if you gave them the skin off your back. They will side with the Ummah/ Caliphate which is larger than any Western delineated country wether it be Palestine designated as such by the Pagan Romans or Iraq designated by Picot Sykes or any country by any name that has been conquered by the Caliphs of yore . Only an Islamic State or Caliphate is authentically Arab Sunni and all current Arab nation states and eventually all the world will serve their conception of God’s will. This is not a pretty picture. If we could only have the former atheistic Soviet Union
      as a foe at least they were convinced that it is people and not God that
      determine how life on Earth should be arranged.And the Soviets ,not believing in an afterlife where all problems will solved, took seriously the making of life better in the here and now . That goodness Israel was established by secular Jews .

      Reply to Comment
    4. Richard Witty

      To understand, and not just parrot (left and right), it takes hearing of different person’s perspectives, looking at events from a different geographic scale, a different time scale, then putting it all together.

      The actions of a moment are not the reality, they are at most the most recent consequences.

      And, they are only causes for the future to those that are reactionary, for whom intention is less present than reaction.

      We need to cultivate our free intention. Seeing clearly and fully, acting deliberately.

      Reply to Comment
    5. phil

      elderofzyon, Trespasser?? Puhleeezze

      That’s about as good a source as stormfront..

      Reply to Comment
    6. Victor Arajs

      If you dont want to be bothered by the Palestinians, move to the marshes of Chernobyl

      Reply to Comment