Noor in a Nutshell: Biased intrusions into a historic territory

Noor Naji, Opinion Editor

“If every olive of every tree that was uprooted and burned was pressed, it yet would not produce enough tears to cry for Al-Nakbah.” —Lise Brouillette

I knew, before I even wrote this article, that I would share a stance taken by Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and many more, but is nonetheless globally unpopular. The fact is that the Israeli government has long established policies of oppression, occupation, ethnic cleansing and apartheid. And the violence weeks ago was one of many instances in the last five decades.  

After rounds of live ammunition were fired at Palestinian protesters a few weeks ago, dozens were killed and hundreds were injured as they were calling for Palestinian “refugees to be allowed back to their family homes in Israel.” Days later, a video emerged of an Israeli sniper cheering after he shot an unarmed Palestinian.

Unsurprisingly, Israel’s claim of “self-defense” was lazily slapped on as an excuse, ignoring the fact that the protesters were sitting under tents and all were unarmed.  

Time after time, the violence between the two has been presented as that of equal sides fighting for the same land, but that is far from true. Israel, with U.S. military support, has far more power than Palestine, which has been occupied and displaced for decades.

 Israel, claiming itself to be the victim in the conflict, has repeatedly responded to “terrorist” stonethrowers with bombs—a clear overreaction. Many avoid criticizing Israel considering its Jewish population. However, criticizing Israel’s war crimes is not anti-Semitic, just as criticizing Saudi Arabia is not anti-Muslim.

There is no denying that there is violence on the Palestinian side, Hamas being an example; however, most Palestinian violence is a reaction to their homes, schools and hospitals being demolished. If Israel has the right to defend itself from terrorists, doesn’t Palestine have the right to do the same?

If only the roles were somehow reversed. If Israelis were occupied and the Arab, Muslim government militarily occupied the West Bank, with no basic supplies allowed, the world response would be very different. No one would hesitate to use the words: radical Muslim government oppressing Jewish residents. The same does not go for Israel.

In 2005, Israel ended occupation in Gaza, however, their control is still evident: they control borders, coastline, airspace and communications. Moreover, Palestine has been under a blockade by Israel and Egypt for the past 11 years, cutting medical and food supplies in the country. During this blockade, thousand of Palestinians and about 100 Israeli were killed, according to Reuters. Arab residents are often unrightfully held in Israeli prisons, along with being abused and tortured. Moreover, Palestinians face strip searching and military forces invading their homes. All such incidents were reported by B’Tselem, an Israeli Information Center for Human Rights.

It is easy to forget the painful and complicated history of Palestine. Sympathy for Israel comes from the fact that Jewish people persecuted during World War II deserved a homeland. While the region was inhabited by Jewish groups for centuries, it has also been inhabited by Christians and Muslims equally as long. Being a minority doesn’t give you the right to oppress those beneath you, continuously expand on territories you vowed you wouldn’t touch, and make the “other” refugees in their own land.  

As former Israeli snipers wrote in a letter to the Guardian, “Harming innocent people in Gaza is part of what is needed to maintain the regime of occupation, and we must not allow it to continue. Only ceasing to militarily control the Palestinian people will bring this to an end.”

There is no path to peace with  occupation. And only then, will the olive and lemon trees end their mourn.