Like all wars, the conflict in Gaza is being fought in two distinct battlefields. One is the military war taking place in Gaza. The other is the battle for hearts and minds, fought mostly in the media.
So with polls showing that twice as many Americans blame Hamas for the violence, it’s no surprise that pro-Palestinian activists would be out in full force promoting a narrative that places Israel as the instigator of the current round of violence.
Unlike the recent trend among academics to trace the start of violence to Israel’s failure to embrace the Hamas-Fatah unity government, UCLA professor and noted BDS activist Saree Makdisi, argues in the Chicago Sun-Times that the fighting started because of “massive Israeli provocations” that date back some time before the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens:
The current flareup, as on previous occasions, is the direct result not of the rocket attacks about which we have heard so much but rather of massive Israeli provocations: in this case, the extraordinary intensification of Israeli harassment of Palestinians in the West Bank, involving the shooting in cold blood of unarmed civilians — including children — and the arbitrary arrest and detention, over a two-week stretch, of almost a thousand Palestinians on the flimsy pretext that they were somehow involved in the kidnap of three young Israeli settlers whom the government knew (though it cynically used press censorship to withhold the news from its public) to have been murdered within hours.
The West Bank violence culminated in the kidnapping and burning alive of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish activists whipped into a frenzy by their own government, which finally, by way of relief, turned to Gaza once again as a convenient outlet for Israeli anger and frustration, Hamas having provided by then the necessary pretext in the form of all-too-predictable rocket attacks in response to the dramatic Israeli escalation in the West Bank.
The kidnapping and murder of the Israeli teens, which is widely believed to have been the trigger for the current fighting, is not mentioned as a provocation at all. But the Israeli response – the search for those responsible – is presented as part of “Israel’s massive provocations.”
The rocket attacks, which preceded the airstrikes on Gaza, are not war crimes that any responsible government would move to stop. They are just the “necessary pretext” for more Israeli violence.
Of course, if Makdisi wanted to find a root cause in the violence in Gaza, he could go back even further, maybe all the way to 2005, when Israel withdraw from every inch of the Gaza Strip. That could have opened a new era of Palestinian autonomy that could have extended to the West Bank and led directly to an independent state.
Or was the disengagement just another Israeli provocation designed to push Hamas to fire rockets into Israel and build terror tunnels under Israel’s own borders?
Image: CC BY-NC-SA HonestReporting, flickr/Cedward Brice, flickr/Mike Licht