Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Why Terrorist Attacks Happen (and why one happened yesterday)

Last night a settler was killed near Tulkarm, a city in the northern West Bank. Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack. The settler was driving when he was shot in the head by his attackers. It's a terrible incident, this man was a father and a husband. The attackers' actions are cowardly.

The Yesha Council, a large body of settlers, spoke to the incident, saying that:
The murderous shooting attack in Samaria is a direct result of the policy of lifting restrictions on the Palestinians, removing necessary roadblocks in Judea and Samaria[West Bank] and transferring the responsibility for security to those whose ranks have produced many terrorists who murdered Jews. As in similar incidents in the past, once again the gestures aimed at Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] carry a price tag of Jewish blood.
MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) said that:
The path of capitulation, the road openings, the [settlement construction] freeze and the release of [Palestinian] prisoners that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has imposed on us convey to terrorists that Jewish blood is cheap. The terrorist probably thinks that he will be released in the next exchange.

The Arabs interpret the Israeli government's decisions as a green light to harm settlers.
The gist of these two quotes is this: 'give the Arabs an inch, and they'll kill you.' That may sound bold but that is what is being said here: "the murderous shooting attack in Samaria is a direct result of the policy of lifting restrictions on the Palestinians."
If you could somehow not raise international ire, but still keep Palestinians under lock and key, that would be ideal, that would be the only way to prevent this 'murderous shooting attack.' Taking away roadblocks and giving permits is a guarantee that Palestinians will kill Israelis.

MK Ben Ari's that the settlement construction freeze conveys that Jewish blood is cheap is appalling. Putting a restriction on illegal settlement buildings simply respects the limitations of international law, it has absolutely nothing to say about Jewish blood or Jewish life. To say that, temporarily not allowing an Israeli to build a house on privately-owned Palestinian land is conveying to Arab terrorists that Jewish blood is cheap, is a gross misstep of logic.

So why did this attack happen? Well there are potentially a million reasons. But I don't think it's helpful starting place is to say, "dammit, this attack happened because we took our hands off their necks for a second, and look at what the did, they grabbed a knife and slit our throats." No, I think a helpful place to start (helpful in the sense that it is the only perspective that may bring us peace), was suggested just a few days ago by an Israeli writer.
Yes, there will be more and more terrorists in the future if the occupation and abuse of the Palestinian people continues. This is the real infrastructure of terror.

One generation of Palestinians after another will fight in its own way for its liberty and breed more and more terrorists. The only really effective way to reduce terror, if not to prevent it altogether, is to stop its operating engine - the occupation.

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