Op-Ed Response to “Dire Consequences: Abbas Edition”
While it is unacceptable for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, or any leader, to blame others and not take accountability for their own actions, we must first understand that the harrowing killings at a Jerusalem synagogue several weeks ago were the result of the irrational and violent mentality that has plagued both sides of the divide in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nevertheless, I completely agree that Mr. Abbas should have immediately condemned the act of terror without waiting for United States Secretary of State John Kerry to force his hand into doing so.
Concomitantly, we must remember that this irrational and violent mentality did not manifest itself out of nowhere. It has manifested over the course of over thousands of years of frustration and exhaustion over the issue of land; land that has been subject to countless conflicts between countless peoples who have fought for its possession in the name of religion. Now, however, there are two sides: one side has land that its people get to call a country, while the other side has land that they do not have autonomy over to prosper, let alone to live under normal circumstances that we are privileged to have here.
Obviously, this is not an excuse for the Palestinians to physically harm Israeli citizens or soldiers. But what I’ve just described is the stark reality: the Palestinians feel and have felt, for over six decades, like an already-caged tiger being cornered into a smaller cage. Humans are not passive creatures. If we are being cornered, if we feel threatened, we will lash out: that is the inevitable construct of the human psyche.
The problem here, however, is not singular – it is not just Mr. Abbas. The root cause of a failed permanent solution is that both the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships continue to find excuses to not sit down like grown adults and hammer out the co-existence of a Palestinian state alongside an already existing Israeli state. Ms. Elisa Jacobs was right that Mr. Abbas sending a letter of condolence to the killer’s family heightens the already mounting tension (the family who, by the way, has been ordered by Israeli authorities to move back to the West Bank, because their house is to be demolished for their son’s crime – a crime they are not responsible for).
It’s true that Bibi (as Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is fondly referred to) doesn’t send condolence letters to the families of dead Israeli criminals. Yet, he didn’t condemn Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who shot a 10-year-old Palestinian boy twice for “loitering” at the Kissufim checkpoint. It is also cases like these that continue to drive a wedge between both peoples. Did the soldiers take the boy to a hospital? They did, but that does not justify their benighted sense of conduct. Just as Mr. Abbas’s letter reinforces the state of hostility between Palestinians and Israelis, so does Bibi’s apathy towards the injustices the IDF perpetrates against harmless Palestinians. And yet, he remains a crucial figure to the peace process, while Mr. Abbas no longer is one? Perhaps then if the international community is to find new a partner on the path to peace, then they should not look for a partner, but rather partners other than both Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu.
And they better hurry. If one warning shot for a 10 year-old-child is not enough to get him to back away, then the hundreds of bullets the IDF possesses are certainly not enough to stop the Palestinian people from lashing out to free themselves from their cage.
- Hezril Azmin
Photo: Al Arabiya