House Demolitions and Settlements: Israel's Version of Suicide Bombing

Kamikaze, Tamil Tigers then Hamas

Suicide bombing is a vile tactic that has been used by myriad groups to advance their political agendas. The most famous users of this tactic were the Japanese pilots, the kamikazes "divine wind", who attacked allied ships and sank a number of them. More recently, the Tamil Tigers, neither Arab or Muslim, were the number one users of this tactic until the Palestinian group Hamas used it between 2001 and 2004 unleashing over 100 such attacks on Israeli civilians.

This tactic was callously and misguidedly supported at the time by a number of influential voices in the Arab and Muslim world. In the absence of the needed blanket condemnation of this tactic, over time, this tactic was used by Muslims and Arabs against each other resulting in the carnage seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

How and Why Suicide Bombing Failed?

Suicide bombing as a Palestinian tactic failed miserably. It nearly decimated the Israeli left and center. It entrenched the Israeli right in power. Internationally, it diminished the moral standing of the Palestinians' claim to be the morally wronged people and the just cause. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who used to work in Israel lost their jobs. This tactic provided a pretext to Israel to use draconian measures against the Palestinians. One of these measures is the excessive use of checkpoints that makes the movement of people and goods take much longer time and expense- thus choking the already troubled Palestinians economy.

House Demolitions and Settlement Activity

The Israelis also utilize a morally reprehensible tactic that achieves the same results that suicide bombing does. This tactic is house demolitions and land confiscation/settlement activity. Just like suicide bombings' impact on the Israeli side, house demolitions and settlement activity strengthen the militants and weaken the moderates on the Palestinian side. House demolitions and settlement activity make a mockery of the peace process.

House Demolition as Ethnic Cleansing

To most people losing a home is the biggest financial disaster that can befall them. In the US one's insurance would pay for such a loss. There is no insurance that compensates Palestinians for the loss of demolished homes on the hands of Hurricane Israel; the inhabitants become homeless. The goal of the demolition is to make space for Jewish-only housing. The Palestinian are pushed into ever contracting ghettos of unemployment and poverty.

Settlement Activity

Settlements are built in the West bank to further alter its demographics and create facts on the ground that make the creation of a Palestinian state impossible. As to the lives of the Palestinians of the West Bank, settlement activity means more theft of their ancestral land and homes. Also, the settlers come filled with hubris, religious zeal and hate for the Palestinians- intent on making Palestinian lives harder by attacking them and stealing their crops in the name of a so-called Biblical title to the land. With new settlers, more Israeli soldiers arrive, more Israeli- only roads are built on stolen Palestinians land. The Palestinians have to take longer roads to go anywhere in their own towns.

US Reaction to Settlements and Demolitions

Clearly, both tactics suicide bombing and settlements activity/home demolitions, are equally abhorrent and clear violations of international law. However, while the US, justifiably, used clear language to condemn suicide bombing, the US has been coy in responding to the crimes of demolitions and settlement activity, while at the same time being the patron saint of Israel- providing it with relatively huge economic and military aid as well as shielding it from international censure and sanctions. The US, as a supporter of Israel, has to go beyond mere spineless diplomatic rhetoric of "unhelpful" and "counter productive." The same moral clarity that prevails in response to suicide bombings has to exist when the issue is settlements and house demolitions. The US can do more to change the reality for Israel and the Palestinians. In 1991 President Bush senior threatened to withhold guarantees on loans to Israel unless settlement activity stopped proving that the US has the ability to alter Israeli behavior if it wanted.

Will President Obama be more Like President Bush senior?

Only when the US deals with house demolitions and settlement activity with the same moral clarity it requires of Arabs and Muslims in reacting to suicide bombing is there be a real possibility of moving the peace process forward.

The Palestinians Will not Go the Way of the Phoenicians

The Palestinian issue will not go away. The Palestinians will not disappear in history with little historical record like the Phoenicians and other ancient peoples have. For most in the Arab and Muslim world the lack of democracy, the lack of bread and the lack of clean water do not spur violence . The Palestine issue is probably the only political issue that would get Arabs and Muslims from various backgrounds angry enough to want to fight. Naturally, Palestine is the most powerful recruitment tool for Islamic militants.

The Solution We Know

If President Obama does not hold the Israelis accountable for their settlement activity and duplicity toward the peace process, we are looking into a future of more bloodshed and groups that are perhaps more deadly than even Al-qaeda. We know how to deal with the conflict: Israel has to return to the armistice line of 1967. Jerusalem has to be divided and East Jerusalem made the capital of the Palestinians state. The Palestinian refugees must have the right of return recognized.

Respect = Palestine

President Obama promised to respect the Arab and Muslim world. Karen Hughes, President Bush's envoy to the Arab and Muslim world, on her listening tours asked about what issues of concern Arabs and Muslims have with the US. Unlike what the know nothings but loud enough to be heard say, Hughes found that "they don't hate our freedoms." Karen Hughes heard nothing about Britney Spears and The Advocate- what she kept hearing about is Palestine- the main thorn in the side of the US-Arab and US- Muslim relationship.

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