Israel, The Good Enemy
Israel’s relationship to the Palestinians has always been globally approached with standardized heavy criticism made to Israel. The main charges waved in Israel’s face have always been “the Disapropriate use of force” and “discrimination”.
Israel’s critics, either willingly or out of ignorance, choose to overlook the way many Arab countries mistreat Palestinians. Some Arab countries are almost never blamed for what they have been doing to the Palestinians for decades. Such selective recognition of facts by Israel’s critics is bizarre when weighed by truth instead of myths.
In December of 2008, Israel launched operation “cast lead” against Hamas which was launching rockets on Southern Israel on a daily basis. This operation has resulted in the death of more than 1,400 Palestinians, many said to be civilians; an absolute tragedy, nonetheless, those criticizing Israel fail to recognize that the number of causalities is small comparing to Gaza’s population of 1.5 million, considering the high density of Gaza’s population per square kilometre, the number suggests the Israeli forces were very cautious in carrying out their attacks, despite the fact that they were chasing a moving target, Hamas militants. If Israeli forces were targeting Palestinian civilians, the number of the dead would have reached tens of thousands.
On comparison; in 1976, Lebanese militiamen butchered 2,000 Palestinians; almost wiping out the entire population of Tell al-Zaatar refugee camp within days. This was revisited again in 1982 in Sabra and Shatelah massacre; where, in less than four days, Lebanese militiamen killed thousands of women and children who posed no threat as most Palestinian fighters had left then to Tunisia. Two years ago, al-Jazeera satellite network aired rare footage of Palestinians running to Israeli soldiers for refuge from the massacre.
Furthermore, most Arab atrocities against Palestinians have included documented rape cases, even of children, while not a single rape case has been reported against Israeli forces in more than sixty years of operations.
Arab governments’ oppression of the Palestinians does not stop at bloodshed and wholesale slaughters, in fact the more troubling aspects of the way they treat Palestinians is in the systematic long-range exclusion and discrimination. In Arab countries where Palestinians make up a good percentage of the population; they are depraved of all basic necessities, starting with education, down to basic healthcare. Even at countries that have granted the Palestinians citizenships; the Palestinians stand helpless and banned from every potential to improve their livelihoods.
Israel, on the other hand, has always allowed Palestinians to work there and to get paid in Western standards, and even had allowed them generous access to healthcare. In fact, Israel has also welcomed Palestinians as visitors, patients and even as investors, this generosity was only limited when Hamas started bombing Israeli civilians with no signs of an end in sight.
The complexity Israel has with Palestinians revolves around security rather than ideological issues; Israel does not have an aim to enslave the Palestinians for life or purposely degrade their humanity. While many Arab countries have designed their systems to discriminate and humiliate the Palestinians, squeezing them into illiteracy and poverty while milking them for tax money.
This has become most visible recently with calls in some Arab countries to revoke citizenships of all Palestinians there and actually to force them to seek local guarantors to obtain residency, thus enslaving them for life.
This comes as a deeper shock for Palestinians when they see Israeli Arabs, with many of them describing themselves as “Palestinians in Israel”; those are full citizens of Israel with access to all privileges. Israeli Arabs are fully represented inside the Knesset while Palestinians, in their Arab homeland, are allowed only symbolic presence in parliaments, even at countries where they are the majority. And while some Arab countries selectively withdraw citizenships from Palestinians, many Arab Knesset members do not hesitate to speak against Israel with no fear of losing their citizenships or entitlements.
Still, while the world is most vocal about Israeli military operations, it fails to recognize that Israel has been dealing with non-stop unrest on its soil since the breakout of the Intifada in 1987. Has that Intifada taken place in any Arab country; it would have ended within the first couple of weeks with an Arab army killing more than ten thousands Palestinians, most being civilians. Examples of this are countless and in all Arab countries hosting Palestinians; yet the world seems to think this reality is too overrated to recognize.
Today, with peace negotiations up and running, some Arab governments seem to want to butcher the Palestinians again on the altar of dictatorship by worsening their living conditions and making their lives more miserable, just to secure a better negotiating position or merely a seat at the negotiations table. Not to mention that many of those actually would rather see the negotiations fail in order to keep more international aid money flowing to them for “hosting” the Palestinians.
Quoting a commentator on one of my articles; “the Palestinians, do obviously need a break from their sworn Arab friends”, and perhaps they can reconnect to them when they have learned a lesson or two from their Israeli “enemies”.
Meanwhile, the world will remain silent about the Palestinians’ suffering at the hands of some of their “brothers”, as it’s too occupied with Israel.
Mudar Zahran, Jordanian of a Palestinian heritage, is an academic who resides in the UK. Follow Mudar on Twitter @Mudar_Zahran
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