That was the first question put to me when I joined Eugene Puryear and Rania Khalek on their BreakThrough News show The Freedom Side on Thursday.
That question, I responded, is depressingly easy to answer: Israel always has to kill Palestinians because it is an illegitimate settler-colonial regime that faces constant resistance from the people whose land it is occupying, colonizing and stealing.
That resistance is active, deep and broad and therefore as a colonial entity, Israel has to keep killing Palestinians in the hope that – as Israeli leaders call it – “mowing the lawn” will deter and destroy the will to resist.
There is another factor at play. Insecure settler-colonial regimes like Israel – similar to the ones that existed in Algeria and South Africa – tend to become more vicious as they approach their end. The settler psychosis and fear of giving up power becomes the dominant response: “We have to kill or be killed.”
By contrast, I observed that colonized peoples tend to be much more generous to their oppressors, offering them the opportunity to stay and live in peace under conditions of equality.
But as Columbia University professor Joseph Massad recently explained, this is a bargain the settlers – entirely committed to their own racial superiority and privileges – almost always reject.
Simply put, then, the regular shedding of Palestinian blood is a necessary component of maintaining the existence of Israel.
The Israeli invaders fired indiscriminately at civilians, killing a 16-year-old boy and injuring dozens more people including the child’s father.We also talked about the broader question of Palestinian armed resistance. I argued that the necessity of such resistance is imposed by the occupier. Resistance is always a response to the invader’s violence.
Indeed, Palestinians have tried every alternative, including what is tantamount to surrender: In 1993, the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Oslo accords, in which it recognized Israel, gave up most Palestinian rights and committed to becoming Israel’s proxy force fighting Palestinian resistance – which the PLO now agreed to call “terrorism.”
The PLO’s attempt at surrender – and the ongoing collaboration of the Palestinian Authority with the occupier – have failed to spare the Palestinian people Israel’s depradations. Israel just won’t take yes for an answer.
Such PA collaboration has only enabled and encouraged Israel to accelerate the theft and colonization of Palestinian land across the occupied West Bank, especially in Jerusalem.
I noted that the attack in Nablus was in an area ostensibly under PA control, and yet Israeli forces are able to enter the area unmolested and murder Palestinians at will.
This leaves Palestinians to conclude that resistance is their only option to fight back against the existential threat Israel poses to them.
But whereas Israel is getting huge quantities of weapons from the US and European countries, only Iran is known to provide the Palestinian resistance with support.
That needs to change, I argue: Either the so-called international community has to stop Israel and isolate it so it can no longer harm and kill Palestinians, or they have to help Palestinians fight back.
With that said, the Palestinian resistance strategy in the latest confrontation, which Israel provoked, appears to have been to try to force Israel to accept a ceasefire with as little escalation as possible.
This is only a reprieve, however. There will be permanent and escalating bloodshed, unless Israel’s regime of apartheid and settler-colonial terror is brought to an end.
Watch the 20-minute discussion in the video above.