Silencing the other

Palestinians live in fear of terror, too

In the Nov. 26 edition of The Uniter, an article appeared which was written by Ashley Faintuch who had visited Sderot, Israel. The student wrote how the residents of Sderot live in constant fear from terrorist rocket attacks.

Unfortunately, to some extent this is true; many Israelis in Sderot have the threat of a “terrorist” rocket always lurking in the background, especially since they live right beside Israeli-sieged Gaza. The crux of Faintuch’s argument is that the constant fear in Sderot has one source: terrorism.

However, to the detriment of understanding the situation of Sderot, Faintuch’s article fails to discuss the Palestinians as social beings or as rightful landowners.

“Sderot” is actually a settlement on the Palestinian land of Najd, an illegally occupied territory stolen from Palestinians. It is a town created on the ashes of an ethnically cleansed and defaced Palestinian village. You want to talk about terror? Najd’s Palestinian villagers were expelled on May 13, 1948 by Israeli forces before Israel was even declared a state.

More recently, Israel has used terror in order to justify its wars against Palestinians. Israel’s recent Gaza Massacre was aimed at establishing peace by uprooting the terrorists. Those who didn’t die in the war against terror remain under a rigid bureaucratic society that controls their very basic needs. Under this ideology, Palestinians are viewed as potential terrorists; even pregnant women at Israeli checkpoints are deemed to be a threat.

Using the propaganda of terror and fear, Israel continues its agenda of increasing investment in settlements and military infrastructure while at the same time utilizing the threat of terrorism to justify the use of excessive force and policing around Sderot. Palestinians are perceived as irrational beings who may engage in “terrorist” activities not out of desperation to fight their occupation, but for no reason other than to create chaos.

Stemming from such thinking, Ehud Olmert, previous prime minister of Israel, implied over and over that a potential threat to one Jew is more important than the deaths of dozens of Palestinian innocents. The Palestinians’ value of life belongs to a lower measure. This was made crystal clear in the Gaza Massacre of last year.

Palestinians deemed as terrorists by Israel help to justify the use of violence and further fortify Israeli settlements. Almost all Israeli occupied lands, including Sderot, are well guarded with walls, cameras and checkpoints to keep Palestinians out and Israelis in. Most Palestinians outside Sderot live every moment of their lives in caged ghettos without some of the essential needs of life and the luxury of protection.

While Israelis in Sderot are well-protected against the amateur rockets launched at it, Palestinians outside have nowhere to hide from an Israeli offensive. Even if the space and time was available, no one is out of reach of Israel’s experienced military occupation. Gaza’s unarmed and unsheltered civilian population was open to devastating and inhumane Israeli-weapons during the Gaza War.

Without dispute, terrorist attacks on civilians are very tragic, especially for the victims’ families. However, to discuss the suffering and misery in Sderot without at least acknowledging that the same – if not worse – suffering occurs on the other side, silences and denies the other.

The real terror is not the bearded men with white-and-black-checkered scarves that you see so often on your television, or the rockets fired by alleged extremists. Rather, the real terror is the lawful violence used by states to colonize others and keep them in check. Occupation of another peoples’ land, regardless of its justification, is terror; indeed, it is terror of the first-class.

Israel does not need more anti-terrorist expenditures or more fortress-style settlements like Sderot. After all, such anti-terrorist infrastructure leads to a false sense of security and a heightened fear of whoever is deemed as the other.

Fadi Ennab is a Master’s student in sociology at the University of Manitoba.

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