Saturday, April 30, 2011

A death in Nablus

Three buses of right wing religious Jews, arrogantly assumed the right, without prearranged permission of the Palestinian Authority, to visit Joseph’s Tomb in the Palestinian city of Nablus, thereby resulting in the death of one pilgrim by a town policeman. This killing speaks volumes of why the Israeli government cannot reach agreement on an independent Palestinian state.

Any death is to be deplored. However the dead man Ben Josef Livnat happens to be the nephew of Limor Livnat, minister of culture and sports in the Likud led government of Binjamin Netenyahu. As such, the minister has characterised the killing as ‘murder’; Ehud Barak, the defence minister, repeated the charge. In death, Ben Josef Livnat has become a symbol of the rising tide of ultra orthodox religious illegal settlers on Palestinian land — a massive land grab sanctioned by the government — in evoking hoary claims from the Torah that it is Samaria and Judea, a divine given birth right with no time limit.

Illegal settlement on Palestinian land has recreated the American myth of how the West was won by the seizure and killing of its Native occupants of land. Israelis, through brutal occupation, believe that force make right, thereby making them a law unto them. Any arrangements which they do not like, they ignore. And Livnat’s death is a good example of ignoring the law.

For these religious fanatics, and for a majority of Israelis for that matter, the Palestinians have little or no rights; Joseph’s Tomb belongs to the Jews, and like it or not, they will by sheer number impose their right to pray at the Prophet’s tomb regardless of the need of Palestinian permission. Here again, we find another example of reenforcing the demonising Palestinians’ right to land they have occupied for centuries, and the even deeper slide into mire of racism which is everywhere palpable in Israel itself and the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

What it comes down to is plain and simple: as the occupier and warlord, we repeat, Israel imposes a law of its own. Israeli Jews but not Israeli Arabs can travel anywhere at will. Palestinians cannot without standing hours in long lines to pass military controls and being tarred with the brush of abject humiliation.

If an Israeli kills an Arab, it’s a mistake, but if as in the case of Livnat, a policeman, nervous at the sight of a cluster of determined religious Jews — claiming the right without any conditions to go anywhere they want and thereby by their very act of defiance not only challenging the right of Palestinians to govern the little territory they are allowed to hold but denying the right of Palestinians to have any right to the land itself — fires on the crowd and kills one and wounds others, it’s a disaster which only vengeance and Palestinian death will assuage.

But as is many times documented, Israeli settlers and military shooting to kill Palestinians, rare is it that any punishment is meted out.

So it is not only a question of double standards, double measures, but a deliberate policy to usurp the land of one people for the use of another. And, alas, that is at the root and branch of the Israeli government if it adheres to traditional Zionist ideology or as in Netenyahu’s case, revisionist Zionist policy.

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