[News] Israel’s Ever-more Sadistic Reprisals Help Shore Up a Sense of Victimhood

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jul 12 11:40:25 EDT 2017


  Israel’s Ever-more Sadistic Reprisals Help Shore Up a Sense of Victimhood

By Jonathan Cook - July 12, 2017

The panic and cruelty plumbed new depths last week, when Israeli 
officials launched a $2.3 million lawsuit against the family of *Fadi 
Qanbar*, who crashed a truck into soldiers in Jerusalem in January, 
killing four. He was shot dead at the scene.

The suit demands that his widow, Tahani, reimburse the state for the 
compensation it awarded the soldiers’ families. If she cannot raise the 
astronomic sum, the debt will pass to her four children, the oldest of 
whom is currently only seven.

Israel is reported to be preparing many similar cases.

Like other families of Palestinians who commit attacks, the Qanbars are 
homeless, after Israel sealed their East Jerusalem home with cement. 
Twelve relatives were also stripped of their residency papers as a 
prelude to expelling them to the West Bank.

None has done anything wrong – their crime is simply to be related to 
someone Israel defines as a “terrorist”.

This trend is intensifying. Israel has demanded that the Palestinian 
Authority stop paying a small monthly stipend to families like the 
Qanbars, whose breadwinner was killed or jailed. Conviction rates among 
Palestinians in Israel’s military legal system stand at more than 99 per 
cent, and hundreds of prisoners are incarcerated without charge.

Israeli legislation is set to seize $280 million – a sum equivalent to 
the total stipends – from taxes Israel collects on behalf of the 
Palestinian Authority, potentially bankrupting it.

On Wednesday Israel loyalists will introduce in the US Senate a bill to 
similarly deny the PA aid unless it stops “funding terror”. *Issa 
Karaka*, a Palestinian official, said it would be impossible for the PA 
to comply:

    “Almost every other household … is the family of a prisoner or martyr.”

Israel has taken collective punishment – a serious violation of 
international law – to new extremes, stretching the notion to realms 
once imaginable only in a dystopian fable like *George Orwell*’s 1984.

Israel argues that a potential attacker can only be dissuaded by knowing 
his loved ones will suffer harsh retribution. Or put another way, Israel 
is prepared to use any means to crush the motivation of Palestinians to 
resist its brutal, five-decade occupation.

All evidence, however, indicates that when people reach breaking-point, 
and are willing to die in the fight against their oppressors, they give 
little thought to the consequences for their families. That was the 
conclusion of an investigation by the Israeli army more than a decade ago.

In truth, Israel knows its policy is futile. It is not deterring 
attacks, but instead engaging in complex displacement activity. 
Ever-more sadistic forms of revenge shore up a collective and historic 
sense of Jewish victimhood while deflecting Israelis’ attention from the 
reality that their country is a brutal colonial settler state.

If that verdict seems harsh, consider a newly published study into the 
effects on operators of using drones to carry out extrajudicial 
executions, in which civilians are often killed as “collateral damage”.

A US survey found pilots who remotely fly drones soon develop symptoms 
of post-traumatic stress from inflicting so much death and destruction. 
The Israeli army replicated the study after its pilots operated drones 
over Gaza during Israel’s 2014 attack – the ultimate act of collective 
punishment. Some 500 Palestinian children were killed as the tiny 
enclave was bombarded for nearly two months.

Doctors were surprised, however, that the pilots showed no signs of 
depression or anxiety. The researchers speculate that Israeli pilots may 
feel more justified in their actions, because they are closer to Gaza 
than US pilots are to Afghanistan, Iraq or Yemen. They are more 
confident that they are the ones under threat, even as they rain down 
death unseen on Palestinians.

The determination to maintain this exclusive self-image as the victim 
leads to outrageous double standards.

Last week the Israeli supreme court backed the refusal by officials to 
seal up the homes of three Jews who kidnapped *Mohammed Abu Khdeir*, a 
16-year-old from Jerusalem, in 2014 and burnt him alive.

In May the Israeli government revealed that it had denied compensation 
to six-year-old *Ahmed Dawabsheh*, the badly scarred, sole survivor of 
an arson attack by Jewish extremists that killed his entire family two 
years ago.

Human rights group B’Tselem recently warned that Israel has given itself 
immunity from paying compensation to all Palestinians under occupation 
killed or disabled by the Israeli army – even in cases of criminal 

This endless heaping of insult upon injury for Palestinians is possible 
only because the west has indulged Israel’s wallowing in victimhood so 
long. It is time to prick this bubble of self-delusion and remind Israel 
that it, not the Palestinians, is the oppressor.

/A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi./

/*Jonathan Cook* won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. 
His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran 
and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing 
Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His 
website is www.jonathan-cook.net <http://www.jonathan-cook.net/>./

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