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Middle East

Why Israel is terrified of Palestine?

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  • Raja Shehadeh's book provides a Palestinian perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, highlighting the societal and political factors that perpetuate violence.
  • The incident involving Sergeant Elor Azaria and Abdel Fattah al-Sharif exemplifies the deep societal fractures and idolization of violence within Israeli society.
  • Shehadeh emphasizes the need for a comprehensive resolution to the conflict, rooted in empathy and mutual understanding.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long been a source of intense debate and violence, with deep historical roots and complex socio-political dynamics. In his book, "What Does Israel Fear from Palestine?", Raja Shehadeh, a renowned human rights lawyer and recipient of the Orwell Prize for Political Writing, provides a compelling Palestinian perspective on this enduring conflict. Shehadeh's work is a profound exploration of the factors that have led to the current state of affairs, offering insights that are both thought-provoking and deeply human.

One of the pivotal moments discussed in Shehadeh's book is the incident involving Sergeant Elor Azaria, an 18-year-old Israeli soldier, and Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, a 21-year-old Palestinian. On March 24, 2016, in the West Bank city of Hebron, Azaria shot al-Sharif in the head after the latter had already been incapacitated following an attempted stabbing of an Israeli soldier. This act, which sparked national outrage and polarized Israeli society, is emblematic of the broader issues at play. Azaria was hailed as a hero by many, including 60% of young Israelis, and received public support from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This incident underscores the deep societal fractures and the idolization of violence within certain segments of Israeli society.

Shehadeh traces these attitudes back to several key factors, including the failure of the Oslo Accords, the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories, and the growing influence of extreme right-wing elements in Israel. He argues that these elements have contributed to a pervasive failure to empathize with the Palestinian plight. This is starkly illustrated by the linguistic divide: while 90% of Arab Israelis speak Hebrew, fewer than 10% of Jewish Israelis speak Arabic. This lack of mutual understanding and communication exacerbates the conflict and hinders any potential for reconciliation.

The book also delves into the personal stories of Palestinians who have been displaced or killed, highlighting the human cost of the conflict. Shehadeh laments the fact that the Palestinian narrative is often marginalized or ignored, particularly in discussions about the creation of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent displacement of Palestinian communities. He emphasizes the importance of acknowledging these stories to foster a more comprehensive understanding of the conflict.

In the midst of ongoing violence and political stalemates, Shehadeh holds onto a glimmer of hope. He envisions a future where the conflict might be resolved not through temporary ceasefires or truces, but through a comprehensive resolution that addresses the root causes of the strife. This vision is both ambitious and necessary, as it calls for a fundamental shift in how both sides perceive and engage with each other.

Shehadeh's book is a crucial contribution to the discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It challenges readers to confront uncomfortable truths and to consider the human impact of political decisions. By offering a Palestinian perspective, Shehadeh provides a much-needed counterbalance to the often one-sided narratives that dominate mainstream discussions. His work is a call to action for empathy, understanding, and ultimately, peace.

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