Congratulations are due to the Hamas movement for the successful conclusion of the process set in motion when its operatives captured a soldier of the Zionist occupation in June 2006. On October 18th 2011 the enemy soldier was returned to his commanders after Israeli authorities agreed to release 1027 Palestinian hostages.
It wasn’t easy to arrive at this point. Over 400 Palestinians were killed by Zionist rampages in Gaza shortly after the capture of the terrorist (and thousands more have been murdered since). In July 2006 Hizbullah sought to take the heat off Gaza and at the same time to ensure the release of Lebanese hostages by capturing Israeli terrorists on the Lebanese border. Israel responded by launching a full scale assault on the civilians of Lebanon. Over 1000 Lebanese were killed – but Israel received an unexpected bloody nose. It aimed to finish Hizbullah off; instead Israeli cities and military installations came under rocket attack, Israeli soldiers failed to move beyond the Lebanese border villages, and Hizbullah was strengthened. In 2008 the Lebanese hostages were exchanged for the captured Israeli terrorists. Israel’s defeat in 2006 shifted the balance of power, and the current prisoner deal also shifts the balance, albeit in a smaller way. It comes after years of Zionist siege of the already impoverished refugees in Gaza, after Israeli-American-Mubarak sponsorship of a bitter split in Palestinian ranks, and after the massacre of 1400 Palestinians in the winter of 2008/2009. It comes in large part as a result of the momentous changes occurring in a revolutionary Arab world and the wider region, because of the decline of American power, and Israel’s increasing isolation. Israel was forced to break its own taboos, not only to deal with Hamas but also to release Palestinian prisoners from Jerusalem and from the lands occupied in 1948.
I was in a caravan in the north of Scotland when the enemy soldier was released. I saw the news on the caravan’s television set, on the BBC and Sky. The soldier was named again and again, his parents were pictured, his fate was pondered with sympathy. The Palestinian hostages, on the other hand, received very little attention, and when they did they tended to be demonised. Over the last five years, the name of the single Israeli prisoner has been burnt by repetition into the Western consciousness. The thousands of Palestinian prisoners have hardly been mentioned. Driving home yesterday, I glimpsed a front page headline in the Times (the once august London paper now owned by Rupert Murdoch, a committed Zionist). Again it named the Israeli prisoner, and reminded the reader of his five years in a ‘dungeon’. The world is full of prisoners – in occupied Palestine, in Syria, in China. Why does the Israeli merit front page treatment?
In such ways the media and the politician class manufacture Western consent to Zionist crimes. They also encourage the Jewish Israeli public in its delusions. Many Israelis are outraged by the deal. They see the Israeli prisoner as an innocent boy abducted by terrorists, and the Palestinian prisoners as bloodthirsty killers who have fought Israel out of sheer evil, inherent anti-Semitism, and an inexplicable propensity to violence. These Israelis do not understand that Palestinians will fight for justice so long as they are denied justice, so long as they are kept cooped in refugee camps while their land is stolen by the masters in an apartheid state. If Western media magnates and politicians are genuinely concerned for the long-term survival of Israeli Jews in Palestine, they should seek to alert them to the reality of the situation. What they’re doing now is like buying whiskey for an alcoholic.
Many of the released hostages never took up arms. Some are elected members of the Palestinian parliament who were illegally abducted by Israel. Those who did take up arms did so for a very good reason – they were resisting ethnic cleansing, apartheid and occupation. This makes them freedom fighters, not terrorists. One of the prisoners, Nael Barghouti, was held hostage for 33 years. Several others have been imprisoned for over thirty years.
Why is it that one Israeli appears to be worth a thousand Palestinians?When it comes to prisoner swaps, the disproportion works in the Palestinians’ favour. When it comes to anything else, it doesn’t. Obviously. One day a Palestinian will be counted the equal of an Israeli Jew. Until then, the resistance would be well advised to do all it can to capture more terrorists to exchange for the remaining five thousand freedom fighters languishing in the Israeli gulag.
In this comment I’ve chosen my words carefully. I’ve called the Palestinian prisoners ‘hostages’ because they’ve been held as leverage for a ransom – the ransom being Palestinian submission. (This isn’t all; they’ve been held also to satisfy the narrative of Israeli innocence and Palestinian criminality). I’ve called the Israeli prisoners ‘terrorists’ because they operated in an organisation which applies physical and psychological violence against civilians for political purposes.
The Israelis are the ethnic cleansers and the occupiers. The Palestinians are the refugees and the occupied. Zionist propaganda constantly obfuscates these simple facts. The Palestinians are the first victims of the propaganda, but Israeli Jews are also its victims, as the future will demonstrate.