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An Israeli apology is in order - Suhail Khalilieh
Published Saturday 19/03/2011 (updated) 21/03/2011 14:44
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The Palestinians have been struggling for their rights and independence for more than 60 years with honor and pride. While Palestinians recall their own list of infants and children murdered by the Israeli army -- it was no picnic for the Palestinians -- what happened in Itamar is plain murder, and Palestinians do not condone the killing of children.

The hideous crime in the illegal Israeli settlement Itamar in the northern West Bank revealed how quickly the Israeli community and state reacts to accuse Palestinians.

Furthermore, Israeli authorities publicized the attack worldwide and used it as a pretext to justify approval to build more than 500 housing units in several Israeli settlements in the West Bank (in Gush Etzion, Kiryat Sefer, Ma’ale Adumim and Ariel).

The Israeli government and settlement councils quickly started a campaign to capitalize on this crime with a new wave of settlement construction and incitement against Palestinians. The brother of the murdered settler said at the cemetery, "A person is born for himself, to his parents and siblings, and dies for himself. He is not a symbol or a national event, and death must not be allowed to become an instrument of something."

He professed that the funeral should have been a private affair and not exploited by right-wing politicos, ministers, Knesset members and West Bank rabbis who turned the scene into a political episode.

The funeral was quickly turned into a pre-election campaign as the Israeli Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin declared that Israel "shall continue to build anywhere and at any time." Gershon Mesika, Samaria Regional Council chairman said, "All the talk of peace delusions must stop." And Israeli Minister of Interior Eli Yishai demanded the construction of 5,000 homes in settlements.

While the blame was targeted toward the Palestinian Authority for not dealing with incitement, the funeral was an opportunity for many to spread their incitement promoting Jewish control over the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River using words like "transfer" to suggest moving Palestinians to the other side of the Jordan River.

Ultimately, the funeral was a chance for many to disclose their real thoughts, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who declared during his condolences that "We shall build our land." After all, his ultimate plan remains that of his mentor and predecessor, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: "to annex as much of the Palestinian land as possible" before a real and final negotiation actually begins.

Among all of this, it seems that the voice of reason is missing, that it is inevitable that Palestinians committed the act and that the entire population is at fault. But what about the Israeli crimes against Palestinians? How come some people value the life of one person over the other -- in this case the life of one Jew over the life of one Palestinian Muslim or Christian?

Stop Israeli incitement against Palestinians

The incitement campaign against Palestinians operates on all levels. Palestinians expect it from Israeli government officials, from rabbis and from settlers. But the impact of this campaign is used to fuel hatred within Israeli society itself, not that they need any encouragement.

That the Israeli government indifferently perpetuates racism and violence against Palestinians is a simply repellent, offensive and scandalous aspect of their policy toward Palestinians.

Condemnations of the attack came swiftly from many nations and different sources.

In contrast, the condemnations of the Israeli massacre of 2002 in Jenin refugee camp or the Israeli Cast Lead operation of 2008-2009 in the Gaza strip (to name a couple) came late, and with provisions that correlated Palestinians and the Israeli army. These are not isolated examples but typical reactions to injustice against Palestinians.

With this in mind, director of the Israeli Government Press Office Oren Helman filed a formal complaint against CNN for putting "terror attack" in quotation marks when it reported the killings. The complaint rebuffed CNN for seemingly having doubts that the killing -- the Itamar massacre -- was anything but a terror attack. Even though no decisive evidence was brought forward to concur such a claim, CNN agreed to remove the quotation marks (talk about media reporting facts).

The killings are undoubtedly dreadful but they are, after all, murder. Terror attack is a straight forward accusation to Palestinians. Obviously, and as reported by Israeli sources, Palestinians had nothing to do with it: it was a murder. An unfortunate one, because it involved children, nevertheless it was a case of murder.

Still that did not stop dozens of attacks on Palestinians, their land and properties all over the West Bank under the protection of the Israeli army, who for its part carried out dozens of random arrests in the occupied West Bank.

In any case, instead of exploiting this crime to further stereotype the Palestinians, and patronize hate, Israel should have exhibited leadership to curve the hate and embrace peace. Sadly, not even such a horrific crime is capable of hindering the wave of incitement.

Netanyahu was quick to refuse Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' denunciation of the crime, even though the perpetrator is not yet identified, although Israel has less than little to say when such a crime happens to a Palestinian.

When Israelis commit crimes, Israel says they were psychologically disturbed, as has happened with many settlers who killed Palestinian children. Or they say it was a mistake, like when the Israeli navy annihilated an entire family who were picnicking on Gaza beach on 9 June 2006. Israel gunboats opened fire on the beach, literally destroying a Palestinian family with what Israel lamely called "an errant shell" that killed seven and wounded over 40 people.

The victims were Ali Ghalia and his 26-year-old wife Rye Ghalia, and their children Sabrina, 8, Haitham, 1, Zebren 8, Anadia 2, Ilham 7, and Halia, 15.

Later at a conference, the Israeli "Defense" Minister at the time Amir Peretz retracted any insinuation that this could have been an Israeli attack. "The intention to describe this as an Israeli event is simply not correct," he said.

In parallel, the perpetrator of Itamar has not been identified. Moreover, there are strong suspicions that the perpetrator of the murders may be one of the laborers brought from abroad to work in settlements. According to unofficial testimonies the suspected perpetrator had a financial dispute with the deceased over 10,000 NIS ($2,817).

However, it seems it was much easier to blame the Palestinians and turn it into a political event, an opportunity to unleash settlers' rage on Palestinians, and a chance for Netanyahu to pass pending decisions to build hundreds more illegal housing units in settlements all over the West Bank.

Netanyahu and Israelis are sure the air in the West Bank is filled with hatred from Palestinians toward the Israelis. This is true to an extent, and justifiable because it was built over years of injustice against the Palestinians. But what about the hate coming from the Israeli side and their categorical denial of the injustice forced upon Palestinians throughout the decades since the establishment of the state of Israel?

The bottom line is that the perpetrator of Itamar is unidentified and only assumptions command status on the ground today. Fact finding -- the truth -- is no longer the subject of interest to anyone anymore.

The Israelis are demanding justice for what happened in Itamar but what about justice for the Ali Ghalia family and thousands others? The saying goes that "justice is blind" with no consideration for ethnicity, religion, politics, social status etc. But what is happening on the ground is otherwise and this is why a remedy of this selective justice to include everybody in its spectrum may be the first step to peace.

Hence, an Israeli apology for the accusation, and the stereotyping, of Palestinians is in order. We demand it. We are entitled to it.

Suhail Khalilieh heads the Settlements Monitoring Department at the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem
1 ) Michael Hessler / Israel
19/03/2011 20:51
This piece is discriminatory against Israel and also incites hate against Israel.
Your rules state:
"3. Comments that could be interpreted discriminatory in any way will not be published
4. Comments that incite hate or criminal behavior will not be published"

It must be that your piece isn't subject to the same rules as the comments are.

2 ) Tariq / WB
19/03/2011 21:02
This article discusses Israeli actions, and many of these actions incite hate against Israel, but don't blame the messenger.

3 ) Colin Wright / USA
19/03/2011 21:10
Au contraire. The author begins by surrendering. In 1943, the Polish Home Army attacked Germans attempting to settle near Zamosc, killing two hundred men, women, children -- and yes, babies. No one has ever suggested they were in the wrong. They weren't.

4 ) Arnold / Canada
19/03/2011 21:34
When the young Israeli arab boy was murdered by the two Israeli Jews, the police went about their job and arrested the two Jewish boys. There has been NOTHING done by the PA police to find the killer of the Fogel family. The writer starts off by saying the Pals want respect. Well who is going to respect a people that have no respect for others.

5 ) Phil / UK
19/03/2011 23:14
" Palestinians do not condone the killing of children".

Two days after the massacre in Itamar, the PA dedicated a public square in El-Bireh to terror commander Dalal Mughrabi. Mughrabi commanded the 1978 bus attack on the coastal highway in which 37 Israelis - including 12 children - were murdered. The PA previously named a street, a dormitory, a summer camp and a sports tournament after her. Several popular songs have been written to glorify her crimes.

What would you call that Khalilieh?

6 ) carine / UK
20/03/2011 00:57
Didn't I read, when this first happened, that the Israelis were taking over the investigation? If that's the case, the PA police are not involved.
Respect from both sides would go a long way - someone has to start somewhere...

7 ) Lukas / AntiZionist
20/03/2011 02:15
Israel nor any Zionist that still supports Israel apologized for the thousands of children they have killed. Ehud Barak (operation cast lead), Sharon (Sabra and Shatila) and Perers (Qana) are all responsible of slaughtering children in masses, including women. They never apologized, they thought it was right.

8 ) Jerrold Cohen / USA
20/03/2011 07:38
Michael Hessler, the reason the article downed Israel was that it reported accurately what happened in Israel after the killing. The Israelis blamed the Palestinians and instituted mass punishment even before the killer was found. Also, Israel's idea of justice is one-sided. Kill Palestinians and they hardly think about it. Kill an Israeli and the earth shakes with blame.

9 ) Outsider / EU
20/03/2011 12:26
8) Unfortunately, you are right - and I think the article was quite clear on that point. Nice comments from the victim's brother. I hadn't heard that. It must be hard enough dealing with this horrific murder without becoming a media circus and political football. 5) What's the name of that airport near Tel Aviv?

10 ) Carlos / USA
20/03/2011 16:10
Good article. The behavior of Israel was incitement pure and simple. The crime against the settlers was evil but the punishment was against the innocent Palestinians. Not one of the thousands of Palestinians who suffered from rioting settlers or air strikes or home imprisonments or being detained had anything to do with this crime. Israel silences the police so Israel will continue to blame Palestinians. Apparently it was a hired hand who killed the family.

11 ) Hilde / Palestine
20/03/2011 17:41
How does anyone claim to know that NOTHING has been done by PA police to investigate the Itamar murder? Someone with deep insight into the PA police's doings? Guess not... oh and, should the guest worker be found guilty, will Israel transfer the settlements that they vowed to build in revenge be built in the guest worker's homeland? That would be reasonable, don't you think?

12 ) elias / palestine
20/03/2011 20:14
i wonder why ma'an allow zionist posts on here??lol

13 ) Malach HaMavet / Gehenem
20/03/2011 23:12
12 ) elias
The answer is simple enough for you to understand
israeli papers allow pro-Palestinian posts, which isn't really fair, since there are more Israeli papers here than there are those with Arab views

11( Hilde,
Palestinian's have already confessed to the murders, keep up with tne news, Guest worker didn't do it, one of your brothers did, Google it !!!

14 ) Malach HaMavet / Gehenem
20/03/2011 23:25
7 ) Lukas
You must learn that you can't start trouble and then try to hide behind the women and kids the way you do, then blame the other fellow for your cowardice
Fahti Hammad bragged about doing it, it's on You tube

If you want an apology, ask Hammad, he caused the deaths

15 ) Dubner / USA
21/03/2011 06:30
elias/palestine: "i wonder why ma'an allow zionist posts on here?"
The answer, elias, is that Ma'an News Agency has press credentials issued by Israeli Press Office in Jerusalem. There is NO country, called "Palestine". There are "Palestinan Territories" administrered by the Jewish State. My suggestuion, Elias, is for you to vacate your house, sell it at high premium to one of many young Israeli Jewish families for super profit and then move to a friendlier country like Jordan, Iran,Libya, LOL!

16 ) @ Dubner / USA
21/03/2011 15:52
Ma'an can't have Israeli govt press credentials, otherwise they'd be subject to the gag order and their journalists wouldn't be harassed. I'd double check, but I'm pretty sure they are accredited by the PA

17 ) Robby / USA
21/03/2011 17:28
12 ) elias / palestine, 13 ) Malach HaMavet / Gehenem, 16 ) @ Dubner / USA - read Maan's "About Us" - http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewContent.aspx?PAGE=AboutUs. It would be a shame if the stopped printing both opinions on issues.

18 ) elias / jerusalem,palestine
21/03/2011 21:11
lol.isreal a racist state.??
why would any of us think that.

19 ) Lukas / AntiZionist
22/03/2011 12:22
# 14, Malach, stop those ridiculous lies. Those lies are the only argument you have and they are nothing but baseless and racist lies. It's more than ridiculous and blatantly racist to even ponder the idea that some people (here arabs) would kill their own children before bombs. It just point to how criminal and racist the mindset of Zionists as yourself is. And how far you are prepared to go with your lies. You are beneath contempt. You refuse to condemn the atrocities of Israel and divert.

20 ) Robby / USA
23/03/2011 05:28
19 ) Lukas / AntiZionist "# 14, Malach, stop those ridiculous lies." Did you view the Fahti Hammad video's on youtube? Maybe you want to denounce the videos, but Malach is not lying, unless you are saying the video's are fake.

21 ) eporue / europe
23/03/2011 08:30
i agree with the article. and those, who point on hamas - e.g. that they dont apologize for their attacks etc... when you do this, then you put israel on the same level as terrorists. if you justify israels gross "misbehaviour" (first was lieberman) by similar terrorist/hamas-actions, then you have to call israel a terrorist-state...

22 ) Tobias / US
23/03/2011 19:52

In war innocent people often die, and even more so,
when the combatants break the international rules of war,
by either targeting civilians, or using them as human-shields !!!

Breaking these international rules of war is something that
- Hamas does and admits to doing routinely, and
Hamas' killing civilians intentionally is MURDER, but
- Israel only kills civilians accidentally, such that
you CAN NOT fairly "put Israel on the same level as terrorists" !!!!

23 ) lukatz / anti anti zionist
24/03/2011 00:24
an apoloy,
I apologize to the wonderful people of southern israel for electing leaders who are not protecting you. I promise to raise my voice asking to drom 2 bombs on gaza for every one fire from there

24 ) Lukas / AntiZionist
24/03/2011 01:08
Robby, no, he didn't say that he put children in the frontlines. Still lies. He said "human shields", that doesn't mean that you put up your own children before bombs. Even Egyptians used human shields during demonstrations. So you are lying again. All you can do is lie. That's because your stance is indefensible.

25 ) Robby / USA
24/03/2011 16:05
24 ) Lukas / AntiZionist - Stop the videos at 31 seconds, it says "that is why we have formed human shields of the woman and children, the elderly and the mujhadeen". At 45 seconds he says "we desire death like you desire life". You also mentioned the Egyptians used human shields, is that supposed to be justification? Please be more specific, where did I lie?

26 ) Robby / USA
25/03/2011 15:49
24 ) Lukas / AntiZionist - Did you watch the video? At 30 seconds it says "This is why they have formed human shields of the woman, the children". Please tell me specifically what I have lied about.

27 ) Lukas / AntiZionist
25/03/2011 23:54
Robby, what is that you don't understand? He means a shield of defense with a mass of people. If you have a shield of women and children, and people without weapons, an army can't kill you according to the rules of war. You Zionist loonies claim that grown ups held up children to protect themselves from fire. That is completely ridiculous. In addition, there is no evidence whatsoever that human shields has been used in practice. It has been carefully researched by organizations such as Amnesty.

28 ) Robby / USA
26/03/2011 17:31
27 ) Lukas / AntiZionist - It's good we agree, I did not lie, the speaker did claim to use woman and children as shields. Can you show me where I said "grown ups held up children to protect themselves"?

29 ) Tobias / US
28/03/2011 04:20

Are you a new Maan reader??

When I first started reading Maan,
I could NOT believe what they wrote as "news", not to mention
the anti-Zionist and extreme Jew hating comments !!!

On this whole site, EVERY piece is discriminatory against Israel,
which is why I comment towards a more truthful, balance view.

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