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Violence was never gone, so it cannot 'return'

The current wave of protests in the OPT is portrayed in the Israeli and international media as an “escalation.” Again, the Israeli point of view of the occupation dominates the narrative of the conflict. Palestinian resistance to the occupation could be labelled as an escalation in violence, but these events aren’t: the confiscation of land; a checkpoint in the entrance to a village; a search of someone’s house; the arrest of a political activist; restriction of movement between towns; administrative arrests, and so on.

This is how the Palestinians are always made to look like violent lawbreakers, while Israel seeks “calm” and “peace.” Order in the West Bank is the order of the occupation, and the law is the law of the occupation. Resistance is always illegal, always disturbing. It is always represented as “an escalation.”

From an honest perspective it is impossible to talk about “a return of violence” in the Israeli/Palestinian issue, because violence was never gone – it was simply only directed at one side. The occupation itself is violence.

Another form of this bias is the obsession in the Israeli and international media over the prospect of a third Intifada, as if we are dealing with some weather event or an earthquake, and not with a political situation in which Israel has all the cards. Intifada is the response to the occupation and it could be easily avoided.

The fact that I used those expressions and phrases myself – as much as I try not to – only means that we are yet to develop a more adequate vocabulary for understanding and describing the occupation.

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    1.  Aaron Gross

      I think you’re just factually wrong on this: “Palestinian resistance to the occupation…is…legal under international law….”

      In fact, violent civilian resistance to an occupying power is not protected under international law. Nor are militias like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, even when they attack purely military targets. (“Partisan” militias are protected.)

      From the point of view of international law, violent protestors are just criminals who can be punished by the occupying power.

      Reply to Comment
      • I deleted this sentence because I wanted to avoid the legal debate here. I would just say that I don’t think that the protest we discuss falls under violence here, but I guess this could be debated too.

        Reply to Comment
        •  Aaron Gross

          Fair enough. I do agree that violent resistance – up to and including terrorism – is sometimes morally justified, even if illegal.

          Reply to Comment