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Corpses On The Ground, Minds In The Clouds

Palestine 2006 : Corpses On The Ground, Minds In The Clouds

Agustin Velloso,, July 14th 2006
Translated By Tlaxcala

A new message just reached me from a reader of Rebelion, one of good will this time, who is not berating me for my articles on Palestine as if insults and prejudices were enough to defeat arguments; nor to defend Israel, as if it needed the help of latter day Robin Hoods in reverse, whose sense of justice leads them to help the aggressor instead of the victim, in addition to deploying Merkava Mk 4 120mm tanks and more than 400 F-4 fighter bombers that makes it the country with the biggest number of those aeroplanes after their manufacturer, the United States.

My correspondent says, "Without doubt the savage oppression Israel is applying to Palestine, the selective murders or worse still the indiscriminate murder of civilians, of children and entire families, the State terrorism .... physically justifies the existence of an armed response against Israel. In a way it can be regarded as the logical and even the just response to Israel's atrocities. But that does not make it a good or a correct response, if our aim is, beyond revenge, the end of the conflict and the life of the Palestinians ."

Here is an honest spirit, someone as much lacking in ill will as they are ill-informed. Their lack of doubletalk permits them to think there is foul play on Israel's part and that things may not be as the communications media paint them. Their concern for children and families indicates a desire to consider their defence "in a way logical and even just". At the same time, however, they do not think an armed response is "good or correct".

So I reply, " It is entirely just that a victim - any victim - reacts with violence to their aggressor. This is obvious in the case of Palestine, in which anyone who appreciates which side is legally in the right in the conflict, who notes the disproportionate forces between one and the other, a huge disproportion, and who takes into account that Israeli violence, with no sign of an end, has for generations prolonged itself and goes on growing - to the general indifference of those legally obliged to act, namely the United Nations.

There comes a time, not now, it came years ago - in which it becomes absurd to continue discussing the Palestinian problem. Everything has been said: international law is unequivocal concerning the illegality of Israeli actions. Everything has been seen: the thousands of dead and people made prisoner, the land grab, the biggest concentration camp in the world, the refusal to let refugees return home, the children cut to pieces in their beds and the mothers entombed in the rubble of their houses demolished by bulldozers.

At the same time, everything has been justified and interpreted by Israel and its accomplices, mainly, but not exclusively, the United States and the European Union, as well as a few supernumerary Arab countries, so as to stop the foregoing evidence penetrating people like the person who wrote to me. State terror is passed off as a hard line, murder as selective attack, aggression as the right to self defence, grave breaches of human rights as the Peace Process, and so on and on. Together with all the bloodshed, every written law and every commonly agreed idea of human dignity has been trashed.

Since this is an interchange with someone of good will, I do not insist on the above reasons, published a thousand times and which I assume they share with me, although I do alert them to the difference between the way we think: the end of the conflict, although at first sight desirable, as they say, should not be at the price of injustice. It is the achievement of justice that will bring peace, but peace on its own is not sufficient nor desirable, after all dictatorships and oppression can gaurantee peace, but the peace of prison cells and cemeteries. In the West it is normal to advocate peace, since for the West's inhabitants it is painless, but not for the Palestinians. Peace is easier to sell among those who have not suffered its "collateral effects" than among those who barely survive as prisoners at the mercy of jailers hardened to the suffering of others.

Likewise, the question of revenge is seen very differenty by an observer than by a victim and again, although it is desirable that it should not take place, the latter person is better and more legitimately qualified to resolve it. One of the effects of camouflaged Zionist and pro-Zionist propaganda is that not only is the tremendous injustice imposed on the Palestinians not understood in Europe and the United States, but even the personal suffering of those who have seen their house demolished, their parents and siblings destroyed by a bomb and their life's future turned into a prison 35 kilometres long by 10 wide.

After 40 years of military occupation, how much more does a Palestinian have to suffer before being able to get revenge for the murder of their family, on the thief of their land, on their torturer and to end once and for all the Occupation tolerated by European and United States "pacifists" and "democrats"?

I ask this of my correspondent because they write "The martyr attacks will not solve the conflict, on the contrary, they deepen it by permitting Israel to use them to justify its actions and continue massacring the Palestinian people. It is not possible to blame oppressed Palestinians for carrying out terrorist actions that ultimately harm them more than their enemies, because since childhood they have suffered violence and brutal oppression. The martyrs are also victims for sure (although in my personal opinion the murder of Israeli civilians, any indiscriminate murder has no moral justification)".

I realise the moral justification of the martyr operations is a difficult matter to deal with and almost equally so their effectiveness. While one seeks to reach some conclusion on those matters it occurs to me that it is precisely the lack of well executed operations in sufficient number that explains their relative lack of success.

In other words, following the Israeli logic: the Israeli government can permit a few Palestinian operations because it knows they will never alter the status quo. If the martyrs were capable of exacting a high price for Israeli oppression, the government would be forced to negotiate. Briefly, it is the dearth of operations that harms the Palestinian cause.

Furthermore it is necessary to bear in mind two things. In the first place the Zionists have never needed excuses to carry out their genocidal plan against the Palestinians. History indicates that it is not that the Palestinians "give Israel motives to use violence" but that violence is an integral part of the Zionist project, the Occupation is the violence. Any other interpretation, yet again, is the pernicious effect of propaganda.

In the second place, convinced that one needs not to be a student of the Palestinian conflict but above all to think with common sense and to feel with humanity, one does need to know that like any other victims, the Palestinians first objective, faced with the enormous violence to which they are subjected, is to save their lives and protect themselves as best they can. Today after 50 years of massacres and 50 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one has to doubt very much whether any of the well-intentioned observers have anything worthwhile to say from their security and comfort about those who have to flee bombs dropped from fighter bombers on the overpopulated districts of Gaza City.

No, the Palestinians long ago lost interest in the opinion of Westerners, although they appreciate their solidarity as anyone in their situation would. The Palestinians long ago gave up paying attention to the UN Secretary General or to the Arab League or even to Abu Mazen. The Palestinians think only of whether their children will get home safe and sound from the street, they pray they do not fall ill since they have neither money nor medicines to care for them, they long for something to happen to rescue them from atrophy.

In other words, they are victims of great suffering, but they are not fools and clearly they are neither more nor less human than my correspondent. That is why the observation "Throwing stones at an Israeli tank may be a logical, innate, natural response of the oppressed Palestinian people but do you really think it will help them assure a better future for the Palestinian people? And is that not perhaps the objective that we have to set out towards, beyond vengeance. I insist that violence is not the solution but rather at once the cause and effect of the conflict and is therefore an error. Is it not somewhat irresponsible to push it and praise it?"

In these moments of death and destruction the Palestinians are the ones who should be asking questions of the observers, not the other way round. What are you going to do so my children are not murdered from the air by Israeli combat aircraft and so my sisters and brothers don't stay for years imprisoned without trial by the Israelis? What are the "pacifists" and "democrats" of the Western world going to contribute to the cause of human rights and peace in Palestine?

In something however we are agreed, throwing stones at tanks is not going to resolve the Palestinian problem. Something more than stones is needed. Perhaps my worried correspondent already has to hand an anti tank mine to offer to the resisters or perhaps he is already on his way to Jenin and Yabalia to dig bomb-shelters.

If he lacks ideas on how to help the Palestinians, Sheik Nasrallah (1) has some useful, timely and very comforting ideas for the victims and for those who don't much trust in a democracy painless for its advocates and useless for everyone else.

Translator's note
1. Sheik Nasrallah is the leader of Hizbollah in Lebanon.


Translated from Spanish into English by toni solo, a member of Tlaxcala (, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation is Copyleft.

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