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ISIS and Palestine: a connection?

THE LEVANT NEWS — By Ghassan Michel Rubeiz: West Palm Beach–

Currently, the liberation of Palestine is not being exploited as a recruiting tool for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS. The Palestinian struggle is antithetical to the ideology of ISIS. This fifty-year struggle is national, secular and focused on the liberation of a people under occupation; whereas ISIS is foreign, sectarian and focused on subjugation of the world community outside the Caliphate(al-Khilafah).

Palestine liberation is spuriously being tied to the recent terrorist events in Paris, Beirut and Sinai. For political motives, the right wing in Israel (and elsewhere) argues that Palestinian fighters are cut from the same fundamentalist ISIS fabric. Some of Israel’s leaders contend that Palestinians are rebels without a cause: they are “Jihadi terrorists.”

Palestine, however, is relevant to the Paris events in one important aspect: the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories angers the Muslim world. Consider the tension of demographics. Half the population living under Israeli control does not belong to the Jewish community. This half is Palestinian, largely Muslim. Moreover, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is over 600,000, with a steady annual increase of over four percent. This tenuous situation is a time bomb for the future.

Israelis are better at self-criticism than Palestinians. In a recent Haaretz commentary (November 9) Bradely Burston argues that by holding on to Palestinian territories – occupied in 1967- Israelis look “stupid.” http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.685028

Burston rightly considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a stumbling block for peace: “It is the settlement enterprise that runs the occupation. And … it is now the occupation which runs Israel.” Burston explains that many Israelis seem to have developed a blind spot regarding Palestinian suffering.

In recent weeks, violence against Israeli civilians has risen substantially.

To use Burston’s pejorative term, the Palestinians look as stupid as the Israelis. When a Palestinian stabs an Israeli he is not only committing a crime, he is extending the life of the occupation. It only takes a brief spike in violence for the Israeli government to proclaim that Palestinians are unprepared for peace.

This new wave of Palestinian terror comes after a decade of relative calm and impressive civic mobilization. In 2005 Palestinian civil society started a campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. A global initiative of peaceful resistance has emerged. Israel currently feels diplomatic pressure from the European Union. Palestine is gaining diplomatic stature. It is now an associate member of the United Nations.

But despite this progress despair is on the rise again. Discouraged, many Palestinians no longer care how their plight is settled. They would accept a two-state or a one-state scenario, as long as they could live in security and dignity. Some are desperate enough to be willing to live under Israeli rule, if treated as equal citizens.

It would be a shame if the last ten years of effective peaceful resistance were to be neutralized by the violence of these recent weeks. In defending its lack of commitment to the peace process Israel blames Palestinians: “The time is not ripe;” “The region is inflamed;” and “Palestinians desire our destruction.”

To reach out to the Israelis, Palestinians must distance their secular struggle from any form of religious Jihad. Hamas, for example, could continue to participate in the struggle but not in negotiations for peace. And Israel must not pre-condition peace on Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state.

The Palestinian struggle for justice is legitimate. By ignoring the occupation of Palestine, Israel is handing ISIS a path of radicalization for Palestinians.

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