Haaretz reporter Amira Hass has stirred up a new controversy this week with a blatant defense of Palestinian violence: “Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule,” she wrote. “Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance.”
But throwing stones is not just “an action as well as a metaphor.” It is also an act of violence capable of the causing injuries like any other form of violence. A 3-year old girl is currently in intensive care recovering from injuries from rocks thrown at the car she was riding.
Later in the piece, Hass suggests that her statement is not an absolute license. “Limitations could include the distinction between civilians and those who carry arms, between children and those in uniform, as well as the failures and narrowness of using weapons,” she wrote.
But why would anyone who believes that throwing rocks at people is a “birthright and a duty” follow any of her limits? Indeed, as events have shown, Palestinian rock throwers do not distinguish between civilians and soldiers or between children and those in uniform.
And why stop with rocks? If resistance is a duty, why not by any means necessary? If it’s honorable to hurt a person with a rock, why not two with a gun?
Hass’s statement was too far even for veteran peace activists in Israel, including Yossi Beilin, the former head of the left wing Meretz party. “Hass was wrong to claim that those who are under occupation have a “birthright and a duty” to engage in rock-throwing attacks,” he wrote in Israel Hayom. “Throwing stones is a violent act that may kill or maim.”
At a time when violence in the West Bank is growing and anger is simmering, Hass has chosen to direct that anger towards Israelis rather than against the Palestinian leaders who refused to hold talks with Israel. There would be no need for “resistance” if the Palestinians made a commitment to live in peace with Israel. There would have been an agreement long ago.