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Israel’s Violent Cowardice Faces Palestinian Protesters' Bravery, by Amira Hass

Every Palestinian understands the despair that drives a person to
stab Israelis
Knowing what will happen to their families doesn't deter
Palestinian attackers
Abbas can’t control the lost generation of Oslo

When it comes to bravery and daring, the young Palestinian demonstrators
are defeating the Israeli soldiers and Border Police. They are armed
with agility and speed, kaffiyehs covering their faces. They are armed
with stones and Molotov cocktails, while the soldiers — behind them
military exercises — are armed with and protected by armored vehicles,
drones, helmets, deadly weapons of various types and poisonous tear gas.

Against the bravery of the young Palestinians, the cowardice of the
Israeli soldiers is exposed. They have gotten used to feeling strong and
heroic in their planes, tanks and armored jeeps, in their detention and
interrogation rooms and observation towers with sophisticated equipment,
in their late-night break-ins into houses and their pulling minors from
their beds.

Facing the kaffiyeh, stone and Molotov cocktail they are lost. Insulted.
Then vengefulness erupts.

You, Israeli reader, should liberate yourself a bit from the Israeli
media diet that makes the situation so shallow; you should liberate
yourself from the language of the masters of “civil disorders and riots.”

Instead, watch the uncensored clips from the “battle” field: soldiers in
jeeps running protesters over, a soldier spraying tear gas from
point-blank range in the eyes of medics who come to evacuate the
wounded. Soldiers setting on a store owner who brings in his wares while
clashes are going on, and the soldiers kick him in an orgy of sadism.

This violent cowardice of Israeli soldiers comes on the orders of the
higher-ups — military and political. It’s part of obligatory service in
an army whose main role is to defend the colonialist expansion.

The bravery and daring of the Palestinians is against their will, forced
on them as foreign rule has been forced on them. This courage is passed
on by osmosis from generation to generation for as long as the reasons
behind these traits have not been removed. And the adults look on in
amazement at the young people: They have nearly forgotten they were once
like them.

No top officer or political leader, no emergency reserve call-up order
can force the Palestinians to go out to the military checkpoints and
separation barrier in the villages trying to preserve the tradition of
the popular struggle for more than a decade and cultivate the bravery
and daring. If the unpopular Palestinian leaders have done something
smart, it’s their order that armed Palestinians should not be allowed to
come close to the protest sites.

The Palestinian demonstrators know they could be killed, arrested,
tortured or put on a degrading show trial. But they are armed with
justice. (And to be precise, not with “their” justice, postmodern and
relativist, but justice. Period.)

We won’t say thank you that the soldiers in the West Bank aren’t
spraying the protesters with live bullets and killing 10 at once, as
they killed the protesters in Gaza. We can assume they received orders
to try not to kill demonstrators.

It turns out that when the army wants to, it can operate without
killing. Does this mean the soldiers and police received orders to kill
anyone a few meters from them suspected of possessing a knife? Including
a yeshiva student whom they mistake for an Arab?

True, in contrast to the bravery and daring of the many protesters is
the desperation of others. Without orders from above they run to their
deaths, waving a knife, because in such situations it’s clear the
Israeli soldiers are dying of fear, and their cowardice is deadly.

Deadly by order? Because what is it to riddle a person with bullets
who’s already lying wounded on the ground if not cowardice,
murderousness, carrying out an order or all of them together?

Journalist Mohammed Daraghmeh published a courageous article that speaks
to the hearts of many and angers others. The title: “Don’t go out to
die, Palestine needs you alive.” Daraghmeh calls on the young people, as
he says he tells his own children, not to let the despair and emotion of
revenge cause them to lose their heads — and lives.

The politicians, he writes, fear losing their popularity, so they don’t
dare come out publicly against the knife attacks. He calls on the
intellectuals not to remain silent and not to fear; they should shout
out against this contagious suicidal phenomenon and bring it to an end.

He calls on all Palestinian leaders “from the extreme right to the
extreme left” to say enough is enough, seize the opportunity and channel
the national anger toward mass protest against the occupation — “protest
without death, protest that is all about life, revolution, hope and
change.” The world, he writes, does not accept the knifing and
car-ramming attacks on civilians, just as it opposed the “martyr
operations” — suicide attacks.

He continues: “It is said: Did the nonviolent struggle bring an end to
the occupation? And I will say: Has the armed and military struggle done
this? Our cause is not local but international. The world has created
the problem, and it is the one that will find the exit. But it will not
do so if we keep silent [about the occupation], and it will not do so if
we commit suicide. It will only do so if we preserve the human path of
our national struggle.”

And we should add: The humanity and courage of those fighting for
freedom stand out against the cowardice and lack of humanity of those
who have stolen it.

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