3 nationalities. 2 people. 1 goal. Our thoughts on the latest in international affairs.
I’m not here to discuss the Israeli army’s excessive use of force and disproportionate response for the murder of three Israeli teens.
I’m not here to discuss Hamas’ refusal to recognize the state of Israel and their onslaught of rocket-fire towards Israeli borders towns.
And I am not here to discuss how both Israelis and Palestinians constantly act in ways which undermine their respective causes.
I am here to discuss how the current “tit-for-tat” culture of the Holy Land will never allow for a just and lasting peace.
Tragedy for Both
In a tragedy for Israel, three teenagers who were abducted on June 12 – Eyal Yifrah (19), Gilad Shaar (16), Naftali Frenkel (16) – were found dead on June 30, their bodies partially buried under rocks in an open field.
The next day brought funeral services for the three murdered teens, national mourning, and an equal tragedy for Palestinians: collective punishment.
After Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s vow that Hamas, would “pay a heavy price,” Israeli Defense Forces arrested over 500 Palestinians, placed 364 under administrative detention, led an air-raid campaign on 34 targets across Gaza, and conducted house-to-house raids in the West Bank cities of Hebron and Nablus that resulted in the deaths of 10 Palestinians, including Mahmoud Dudeen(15), Ahmad Sabarin(20), and Mustafa Hosni Aslan(22).
Cold-blooded murder can never be justified, and neither can collective punishment.
Circle of Revenge
There’s an Arabic expression, دائرة الإنتقام (Da’ira al-Intiqam), or “the circle of revenge,” which encompasses everything that’s wrong with the constant need for retribution and vengeance in the Middle East.
The use of social media in the Middle East has soared in recent years, with many using the services to express socio-political and religious views, and to encourage revenge.
Many Palestinian citizens (who were likely supporters of Hamas) took to Facebook to seemingly praise the abduction of the three Israeli teens.
In a revolting and insensitive move, some changed their profile pictures to an image of themselves (and even their children) holding up three fingers, representing (at the time) missing Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali.
In a similar shameful move, an Israeli-launched Facebook page titled “The people of Israel demand revenge” gained over 32,000 members in just 24 hours.
Among the posts, members called for Netanyahu to avenge Jewish blood and to “hit them full force.” Others were more blatant in their distaste for their Palestinian neighbors:
Hating Arabs isn’t racism, it’s values! #IsraelDemandsRevenge
The page has since been removed from Facebook, but you can find many of the photos posted to the group here.
In the decades long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s common for tragedies, on both sides, to be used as political capital. After all, before the intifadas and before the occupation, the heart of the conflict has always revolved around each side’s narrative. Who lives in constant danger? Who has suffered more in the face of adversity?
It came as no surprise when Prime Minister Netanyahu called for the construction of new Israeli settlements in the West Bank, dedicated to three murdered Israeli teens, merely hours after they had been found dead.
Settlements are illegal under international law and will do nothing but incite anger among Palestinians.
Hamas, who stands accused of orchestrating the abduction and murder of the teens, continues to deny all involvement in the matter and will undoubtedly use Netanyahu’s announcement to harden their resolve and propagate their doctrine.
The circle goes round and round.
It Goes Back to 1967
In a letter that the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace wrote to several newspapers, she asserted:
“The ongoing Israeli occupation is at the heart of this crisis… Each of these horrific incidents that harms both peoples happen in the context of an ongoing occupation, itself inherently a system of daily violence. And it is a system that by its very nature puts the lives, dignity, and human rights of all in jeopardy.”
Again, there is no possible justification for the murder of the three Israeli teens, just as there is no justification for the killing of 10 Palestinians by Israeli forces.
However, occupation is a harsh reality which must be confronted. Occupation breeds tension, hate, violence, fear, a sense of the “other,” and a desire for revenge – on both sides.
When revenge becomes the goal, an endless process follows, and Da’ira al-Intiqam is born. Look to the occupation and you find the origin of this sentiment.
After all, even a circle has a starting point.