Sunday, July 16, 2006

Horrifying Pictures Force Us to Think: What Are the Sides in the Palestine/Israel Conflict?

Horrifying Pictures Force Us to Think: What Are the Sides in the Palestine/Israel Conflict?

by John Spritzler

There are horrifying pictures of children burned to death by the Israeli attack on Lebanon, posted at

I assume the pictures are legitimate, but I cannot vouch for them. I also know that one could find equally gruesome photos of Israeli children killed by violence directed at non-combatants by Hamas and Hezbollah. But I also know that far far more Palestinian children are killed this way than Israeli children. In fact, since Sept 29, 2000, 121 Israeli children have been killed versus 734 Palestinian children.

The point is not that the side that kills the most children is the wrong side and the side that kills the fewest children is the side we should support. No. The point is that this terrible violence against children and other non-combatants forces us to re-define what the "sides" are in the first place.

As I see it the two sides are:

#1. Ordinary people of all religions and ethnic groups in Palestine/ Israel/ Lebanon who want to live in peace with one another as equals (the opposite of Zionism's Jewish privilege and apartheid.) This is the vast majority of people of all ethnic and religious persuasions.

#2. Those who are, or want to be, ruling upper classes, who want inequality, and who want to control ordinary people by setting them against each other along religious/ racial/ ethnic lines as mutual mortal enemies.

In the second group, the most powerful are, of course, the United States and Israeli ruling classes. The Israeli ruling class, by its brutal, unprovoked and morally indefensible ethnic cleansing of Palestinians since at least 1948, are, as David Ben-Gurion himself admitted, the initial aggressors in a conflict that, as he put it, "is essentially a political conflict."

The vast majority of Palestinians, no matter how many Israeli children Hamas wrongly kills, are part of the #1 side; they are a people who are defending themselves against the fundamental injustice of ethnic cleansing. They have every right in the world to use violence against Israeli combatants, which includes the Israeli military and those civilians who, like the military, use violence to enforce racist oppression of Palestinians. Such violence is justified as violence in self-defense.

Now comes the question of Hamas and Hezbollah. Some of the violence carried out by these organizations is directed at Israeli combatants and is perfectly justified, even inspiring. But some of the violence of these groups is targeted against Israeli non-combatants. There is no good reason--neither military, political nor moral--for targeting violence against non-combatants. It completely plays into the hands of the #2 side. Which is why one has to wonder, which side are the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah on?

Just because the Palestinian people are oppressed by a vastly stronger Israeli ruling class (with U.S. backing) does not mean that there is not a Palestinian upper class or would-be upper class, with class objectives that conflict with those of the people in side #1. It is as clear as day that genuine leaders of side #1 would NEVER deliberately attack non-combatants. If leaders do target violence against non-combatants, even if only sometimes, and even if they also justifiably target combatants at other times, it is strong evidence that they are doing it for upper class, side #2, objectives.

To support the Palestinians, we need to support the #1 side. In practice (as in, for example, talking to people in Somerville, Massachusetts about why they should vote to divest from Israel) it is crucial to let them know that it is the #1 side we are asking them to support, not ANY part of the #2 side no matter whether or not it claims to represent ordinary Palestinian or Jewish/Israeli people.


At 9:54 PM, July 16, 2006, Blogger Dr.Dawg said...

The pictures are confirmed at Israeli News Now.

At 10:28 AM, November 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5HyffM Very good blog! Thanks!


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