This is not an objective article. Nor does the occasion call for being objective.
A few weeks ago I wrote a “Letter to An Israeli Citizen;” it was a personal narrative about my own biases and misunderstandings towards Jews and I concluded it by asserting the need for mutual understanding between Arabs, Muslims, Jews and Israelis. I still believe in everything I said there, but…
After ISIS declared itself a “Caliphate” there was much discussion between Saudis about the rationality of such a declaration. While most of us – me included - ridiculed the declaration, there were others who said that there have been political entities that started off as “criminal and bloody” and ended up being respected members of the international community. I had a discussion with one prominent intellectual who took such a stand, and I started by asking him to give me examples of such. He mentioned the United States and its ethnic cleansing of the Native American community. The comparison, I responded, was farfetched, and to avoid entering into and endless futile discussion, I asked him to give me an example where a group of illegitimate mobsters take control of a piece of land and turned it into a state with international recognition. He mentioned Israel, though not in explicit terms. Another person following the discussion interrupted and said it explicitly.
I believe in peace, but it is very difficult to continue convincing myself of it when Israel decides every now and then to act like ISIS, albeit in suitsAbdullah Hamidaddin
Needless to say that such a comparison is unequivocally wrong, but I simply replied by saying that this is not an accurate comparison. And I withdrew from the discussion. Not that I had no response, but I simply could not bring it to myself to state the differences between the circumstances of ISIS announcing itself a Caliphate and the declaration of Israeli independence. I could not say how much difference there was between the Jewish community in Palestine at the time and members of ISIS. True, there were Jewish terrorists at the time, but they were the exception while ISIS is by design a terrorist organization. The reason for my withdrawal from the discussion was the brutal campaigns the Israeli security forces undertook in their search for the three kidnapped settlers.
The brutality begins
Then, a few hours later the air raids on Gaza started. The brutality, the inhumanity, the ferocity, the bloodiness of those raids cannot be expressed in words. The comparison between Israel and ISIS stood high at that moment. What is the difference between beheading tens of people or showering them with fire from the sky? True; Israelis do not parade heads in the streets, but they do parade their onslaughts that take the lives of so many innocent people in such obscene indiscrimination. Israel’s attack cannot be considered as an act of self-defense, the attack is a war crime. To punish hundreds of thousands of civilians for the crime of a few, to decide who is guilty without any due process, or ultimatums, or negotiations, to simply kill scores of people in an act of angry revenge is not the act of a state that respects international law or acts rationally. That strike does cannot be made by political leaders who have a shred of morality, or a speck of humanity. Even as an act of revenge, the strikes of Gaza can only be seen as a wanton crime.
Yet, this Israeli government did not take this action to revenge the crime perpetrated against its citizens. No! It did it to prove that it can and it did it to kill all hopes of peace. This is a government that does not want peace. There is nothing new with this assertion. I never believed that the Israelis government was ever sincere about peace. Even as I insist on the need for peace as the only alternative, I also insist that the current political structure in Israel resists peace and does not find it in its interest. And thus it has always looked for opportunities to bury the peace process and end all hopes of a two state solution.
Moreover, since the abduction of the Israeli teens, seven unarmed Palestinians were killed, one of them a teenager who was tortured and burnt. Here we hear the Israeli government calling for restraint and announcing investigations. I guess Arab blood is not worth an immediate security or military response!
I still believe in peace, but I also believe that Israel is committing war crimes. I also believe that there are Palestinians who do not want peace and are also trying, in their own irrational ways, to kill the peace process. The murder of the young settlers may have been done by a small group of angry Palestinians and it could have also been done by Hamas or another political organization that does not find peace in its interest. We do not know, nor do we have the facts. But Israel has the upper hand, it claims to be the democracy, it claims to be rational, it has the power, and it should restrain itself from what is tantamount to terrorism albeit by other means.
I believe in peace, but it is very difficult to continue convincing myself of it, let alone convince others, when Israel decides every now and then to act like ISIS; albeit in suits.
Abdullah Hamidaddin is a writer and commentator on religion, Middle Eastern societies and politics with a focus on Saudi Arabia and Yemen. He is currently a PhD candidate in King’s College London. He can be followed on Twitter: @amiq1