Every chapter in the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians provides graphic examples of the extraordinary inequality between the adversaries.
Israel has F-16s, smart bombs, tanks, artillery, drones, Apache attack helicopters and the financial support of the U.S. government. The military force of the Palestinians poses less threat to Israelis than do daily traffic accidents.
By the metrics of war, whether it’s in terms of deaths, injuries, prisoners taken, territory occupied, or property destroyed, Israel is unequivocally and overwhelmingly the dominant power.
And yet in spite of this dominance the Palestinians have an advantage over the Israelis:
Palestinians are not afraid of Israelis.
Israel, on the other hand, is a country governed by fear — fear of Palestinians, fear of Arabs, fear of Muslims, fear of rejection, fear of isolation, fear of the world, fear of annihilation, and fear of peace.
In every conceivable way, Israel has accrued the material of power — militarily, economically, and politically through its alliance with the United States — but all these physical attributes of power cannot conceal its core weakness.
Meanwhile, the less faith Israel has in itself, the louder it shouts.
The call to prayer started when it was still dark. There’d only been three or four explosions audible overnight, so people came on to the streets quickly, the women into the courtyard, men and boys onto the vast carpet of the Al-Umari mosque.
There’s a mixture of looks on people’s faces, ranging from devout to simply stunned.
“They are trying to crush the nation,” the imam says, in his sermon. “They don’t understand we are a nation that can’t be crushed.”
They’re the kind of words you hear from people who’ve in fact been crushed, but here amid these ancient arches, and on this day, they’re more than rhetoric.
Because it’s quiet: yes the drones are in the sky, yes there’s the crack of tank fire just past the shattered apartment blocks of Shejaiyah, and the occasional rattle of small arms.
But something has, for now, cranked the intensity of the war down. Overnight, Barack Obama called on Israel to cease fire immediately. The Israeli PM, Binyamin Netanyahu rejected it out of hand. The reason why is understood by the smallest Palestinian child skipping in this medieval yard.
If Israel stops now, Hamas wins a massive moral victory. Netanyahu said as much, on US TV. A poll today says 89 per cent of Israelis want their army to carry on fighting until they “topple Hamas”. It’s a fantasy – and a sick one because, to make it happen, you would have to fill these streets with civilian corpses, and on a scale far in excess of the 1,062 deaths so far.
Ameera, aged 15, has lived through night after night of bombing. “I am not frightened,” she says. Why not? “Because I am Palestinian. Palestine will be free, and I say again Palestine will be free, and I am not afraid of any Israeli.” [Continue reading…]