Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Golan and Gaza. Americans do not seem to realize that the Palestinians, who more often than not are depicted as crazed Jew-hating terrorists on TV, are living under military occupation.
Before I left for Palestine, someone warned me: “Don’t do anything crazy like stand in front of Palestinian tanks.”
The concern was sincere. At the time it seemed funny to me. Palestinians with tanks. Those who read the news have heard of Rachel Corrie, but in the American imagination, the Palestinians are always the perpetrators of violence and never the victims.
In the American imagination, the conflict of Israel and Palestine is between two equal parties at best, or between Arab aggressors and peaceful passive Israel at worst.
In the American imagination, it is completely plausible that the Palestinians killed Rachel Corrie with their powerful tanks.
This morning I unfolded the local newspaper and examined the front page photo of military tanks surrounded by Arabic script. I turned to my lovely landlady Om Hilal who was sitting across the table and asked: “Are these Israeli tanks?”
“Yes of course,” she replied. “In Gaza. What did you think—Palestinian tanks? No my dear, we are very poor. They have tanks and we have qassam rockets.”
She mouthed a listless whistle and made a sad hand gesture showing the rockets rising up from Gaza and falling into Israel.
It is true that the qassam rockets kill innocent Israelis, but there is a vast difference between hand-made rockets and a colossal military funded by the most powerful nation in the world.
Palestinians have suffered immensely under Israeli military occupation for the past 40 years. The murder of innocent Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli military is a part of daily life here.
Acknowledging that one party in the conflict is the occupier and the other the occupied is the first step on the path to peace.
Posted By Eliza Bates
Posted Jun 7th, 2007