“Agricultural Terrorism” and the “Right of Retaliation”
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 20 Jun 2018
15 Jun 2018 – “Agricultural Terrorism”, is a kind of “concept” that one finds when looking at Channel Seven of the settler colonialists (Now on: The settlers), and at some websites of those settlers.
The alleged concept describes the Palestinian attacks against the Settlers agricultural lands by burning tires, igniting fires, and the so called “Weaponized Kites” like those flying from Gaza to the South of Israel creating arsons there.
The most important is the “retaliation” proposed and practiced by the settlers, and their Government in Israel. In the South West Bank the settlers decided to “ retaliate” themselves in addition to what the Israeli Army is doing , and that is by uprooting Palestinian trees and vineyards, and leaving leaflets and writings on the stones saying that these attacks are conducted in response to the so called” Agricultural Terrorism” of the Palestinians. Inside the colonial settlements committees for “self defence” against arsons and the other Palestinian attacks are created like in Gush Etzion. This brings back the 1988 discussion about if the settlers will be allowed by the State of Israel to run special patrols outside their colonial settlements. Today this is not a matter of discussion any more. The settlers are already attacking in different places in Palestine. These attacks are well documented over years by the UN Office for the Coordination of the Humanitarian Assistance to the Palestinian People (OCHA), and B’TSELEM and many other human rights organizations. What we are interested here instead is about the assumptions behind such concepts and practices.
The Israeli Government is also “ retaliating” by giving the settlers the right to carry arms “ to defend themselves”, and by all the punishment procedures used, the last among them is the suggestion of the Minister of Home Security Gilad Erdan to target and kill those who run “Weaponized kites” from Gaza, due to his claim that they are terrorists. Days ago the Israeli Army military jets attacked a group of those kites’ runners inside Gaza. Also Israeli missiles attacked others. Air-jets and missiles against kites: A highly proportionate and balanced confrontation!.
Why the Palestinians will face two kinds of the so called “retaliation”. One by the settler colonial state, and the second by the Non- State Actor called the “Settlers”? Let us here notice also the convergence between the two. The settlers are not separate from the official level. They have ten Ministers in the Government, and they now represent the biggest block in the Knesset. Accordingly the 1980’s discussion about the possibility of the settlers to split from the state and establish their own “Judea and Samaria” State is not valid any more today. Why they should split while they have all the state in their hands?
Further than that there are groups among the settlers and the Israeli right wing who call today for the transformation of the state of Israel from a county that combines some democratic aspects with its Jewishness, to a pure Jewish State( These are Like: Lehava, and Price Tag, Elad and others). So why to split if your project became about the transformation of the State as a whole?.
The above question, have connections with different issues in the theory of “conflict resolution” and the world political practice, and finally the Palestinian practice since 1993.
In regard to the theory, the field of conflict resolution tends to understand the context in Palestine and Israel as a one about two parties who have equal responsibility to compromise, calm down the “conflict” and prevent it from escalating. This is obviously wrong, but it is also in the surface only. When one digs behind, he/ she will find the original commitment to establish Israel by Britain and the Evangelicals and the Puritans led by Cromwell since the seventeenth century.
This commitment by the politicians and by the “ Bible Academics” created the process of establishing the National Home to the Jews in Palestine”, then allowing this National home security wise to create the Haganah for “ Jewish Defence” in 1921, then the “ Special Night Squads” in 1936 led by the British Order Charles Wingate who was an evangelical by himself, and other security bodies were also established under the so called “ the right of the Jewish National Homeland to defend itself against the Palestinian attacks”. The name of the game before 1948 was: Take their land, make them angry and outrageous to the extent that they will initiate” Terrorist attacks”, then use your right to “ retaliate” under the so called formula of “ self Defence”. Very easy: Their Land will be appropriated, and then they are the responsible for what will happen to them because of their attacks, and because of their rejection to stay calm, and impotent, like any “ obedient boy”.
Yet, this is not all the story in the conceptual level, what follows is the description of the “Conflict” here as a “Low Intensity Conflict”. The criteria used here is the number of casualties in the conflict. Upon these criteria our conflict is included in the tale of the academic lists about “conflicts”. But this calculation is misleading. Since the “Conflict” here is about land theft and transfer of population (Spacio-cide) , rather than being about full physical genocides that are used on the way, but the main aspect will continue to be the spaciocide. This Spaciocide is probably more painful than the physical genocide, because the people and their country places, space, territory, landscape, and society are all erased.
So we have a big problem first with the theory and practice of this emerging field called as” conflict resolution”. A lot of qualitative academic work is badly needed to bridge this big gap in the conflict resolution literature.
Second, what follows are the political practices. Today we witness the same process that was practiced before 1948: We take your land( This is the real “ Agricultural Terrorism”, and not the Palestinian response to the grabbing of their land), then we have the right of self defence and retaliation to your attacks called by us as being “ terrorist”. In the pre 1948 the Zionist Groups were “ retaliating” while the British Mandate was giving the support and the protection. Today the settlers groups are covered and supported by the Israeli Government that represents them.
In Oslo the Palestinians were ploughed with the same formula with its root in the academia clarified above: They were told: leave the essential issue of land theft aside, leave the rights of the refugees aside, leave Jerusalem aside, and let us talk and negotiate to reach a peace agreement that will end hostilities, while the theft of land in West Bank and East Jerusalem continues during the negotiations, and while no progress is made to end the plight of the Palestinian refugees.
This process, allowed for the gradual seizure of West Bank and East Jerusalem territories a piece after a piece, reaching the current point of planning to annex area C as a first stage to Israel, accompanied with the language about settlers being the indigenous population while the Palestinians are the “strangers” and the “terrorists” who should pay the price of their wrongdoings. The Palestinians face the Israeli Army oppression, but also the settlers one, both claiming as being “retaliating” to the Palestinian “ terrorism”, while the basic fact was an still that the Palestinians are those who retaliate all the time against the aggression practiced against them and their land.
A path of change is not an easy thing to do, but it is possible with patience, persistence and strong follow-up. Besides struggling in the academic and the conceptual levels. It is required that instead of focusing solely on the top down internationalization through diplomacy, other option will need to focus on bottom up processes of comprehensive non violent struggle (This one also include the top down political and diplomatic one, but as inseparable part of it).
The first process creates symbolic resolutions of support to Palestine that are combined with empty words of calling the “two sides to go back to negotiations”. These are like checks without a deposit, and they will be confronted by the fact of the Israeli society shift to clearer settler colonial positions than ever.
The second process will be more successful if well planned and includes political, diplomatic, legal, economic, developmental, and other creative actions of resistance, and if it will be coordinated by a united Palestinian leadership, and the participation of all the Palestinians from West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, the Palestinians inside Israel and the Palestinian Refugees. International participation will be also required.
Such a process will create the pressure needed to make change in the world positions that will lead to a change in favor of Palestine, and not vice versa.
It is not an easy undertaking, but it is about the reallocation of Palestine anew in the global camp struggling for justice, liberation, and ethics- based politics. It is also about the readiness to pay the sacrifices required for its success.
Dr. Walid Salem is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He was born in East Jerusalem in 1957 and teaches democracy and human rights at AlQuds University. He is a writer of thirty books and training manuals, and tens of research papers on Democracy, civil society, citizenship, refugees, and Jerusalem. He is also a consultant, evaluator, and trainer for several public and private bodies. Salem trained more than thirty thousand Palestinians on these issues since 1990, and, since 1993, he is the Director of The Centre for Democracy and Community Development, East Jerusalem. He is the Coordinator of Middle East Citizen Assembly as regional network of experts and activists on citizenship issues that include participants from 19 countries from the region since 2004. He has lectured at several international conferences and seminars about democracy, Jerusalem, refugees, and development in Palestine.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 20 Jun 2018.
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