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If we were in their position, how would we react?

January 15, 2009

Co-Editor-International Middle East Media Center
US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, in introducing a bill
supporting the Israeli attack on Gaza, that passed unanimously by voice
vote in the US Senate Thursday, “I ask any of my colleagues to imagine
that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming
from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York. How would we as a
country react?”

I have heard similar statements by other US supporters of the Israeli
occupation, and I have to address it from the other perspective — what
if we, in the US, were the Palestinians? I remembered something I
wrote in 2005, when the sniper attacks were going on in the DC area,
and some Zionist commentators said, ‘Now we know how Israel feels’…..
In order to experience the reality of the daily life of Palestinians,
the following scenario would have to occur: our land would have to be
invaded by an army, the fourth-largest army in the world, and
militarily occupied. Checkpoints would be set up throughout the area,
and all movement between cities and towns would cease. Anyone who was
employed would be unable to work, and would be prevented even from
going outside of their home for fear of being shot by one of the tanks,
armed personnel carriers, or humvees that now line the streets. All
legal rights would be nullified, and passage from one town to another
would be at the whim of the soldiers manning the local checkpoint —
even if there were an emergency, if someone is hurt, shot, and bleeding
and needs to get to the hospital in the next town, the passage of the
ambulance through the checkpoint would be at the complete discretion of
the soldiers. Most of these soldiers would not speak our language, and
would bark orders in a foreign tongue that we are compelled to obey (or
be shot). Soon, water and food would become scarce, with the soldiers
often shooting directly at water towers and watching the water pour out
of the gunshot holes onto the ground while people who depend on this
water to drink watch helplessly.
The government of the occupying country would pass discriminatory laws
against us, allowing THEIR citizens to dig water wells 70 meters deeper
than our people, requiring a complex set of permits to build (or
re-build) our homes on our own land — and then, when we try to go
through the permit process, denying 100% of the applications. The
occupying country would use its superior military might to take over
much of our land, then would build housing developments (settlements)
on this newly-acquired territory and encourage its own citizens,
through housing subsidies and mortgage benefits, to move into these
housing developments. One million of their citizens would eventually
move into these housing developments, which usually occupy the
hilltops, the prime real estate of our land. There would be walled-in
highways going from the occupying country’s land to these housing
developments, and only the occupying country’s citizens would be
allowed to use these roads. Our people would be forced into smaller and
smaller areas, our houses torn down before our eyes as the occupier
expands their “security zone” further and further into our land. Our
main economy, which in this case would be the production of olive oil
from olive trees, would be completely decimated as the occupying army
chops down grove after grove after grove of ancient olive trees and
then sells the wood as firewood to their citizens living in the illegal
housing developments on our land.
Our people would undergo daily humiliation at the hands of the
occupying army. Many would be brutally beaten and jailed –sometimes
for years– without charge. Periodically all of the men in a town would
be rounded up and forced to stand in the playground of a local school
— sometimes for up to 24 hours at a time — and be interrogated,
humiliated and laughed at by the occupying soldiers. The men would be
so humiliated there would often be tears in their eyes as they stood
there being shouted at by these foreign soldiers. The soldiers would
sometimes break the mens’ arms or beat them on the head, while all the
others watch (including children who peek fearfully around corners at
the sight of their fathers’ humiliation). Children would also be beaten
and imprisoned, hundreds of them, often for the “crime” of throwing
stones at the tanks they see invading their neighborhoods. Some are
kept in jail with adults for years, with no trial and no legal
recourse. For, being an occupied territory, we would be a people
without rights.
This humiliation, brutality, military control, and land confiscation,
would continue unabated for 60 years, despite attempts by the United
Nations to intervene. Our children would grow up under these
conditions, constantly terrified by the presence of this brutal foreign
military in every aspect of their lives. The occupying military would
control residency rights, water rights, airspace, sea borders,
including control over fishing boats, land, borders and travel abroad,
internal movement between villages and towns, construction permits,
imports and exports, taxation, farmland, freedom to worship, vehicle
registration and licensing, ID cards, students’ right to education,
court system and laws in every part of our land.
Do you think after three generations of this we would be pretty fed up
Most people in the US forget (or never heard) that the first
Palestinian suicide bombing was in 1994, just after the US-born Zionist
Baruch Goldstein gunned down Muslims praying in a mosque in Hebron,
killing 30 of them. 12 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces who
closed in on the mosque after the massacre. The Israeli response to
the massacre was to take over the mosque and maintain control over it
to this day — transforming half of it into a synagogue, essentially
giving the murderer what he wanted. Two months later, the first
suicide attack by a Palestinian against Israeli civilians took place.
Most people in the US forget (or never heard) that the first
Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation, from 1987 to 93,
was an uprising of the youth, the children of those who had been
disenfranchised and made into refugees in 1948 when Israel was created
on their land — and that the youth had no weapons whatsoever – no
explosive belts, no homemade rockets, no guns. They picked up stones
from the earth itself and threw them at the tanks and armored vehicles
occupying their land. This was an act of desperate resistance, from a
patient and generous people who had just been pushed too far, for too
So, how would we, as a people, react if we were in a similar
situation? If people in the US (most of whom are descendants of
colonizers who committed genocide against the indigenous people of this
land) were put in the same position as the Palestinian people have been
put in since 1948, I doubt that it would have taken the US population
this long to fire off rockets across the border with the occupying


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