The pattern is painfully familiar — men, mostly young, are gunned down, often in broad daylight, in Palestinian towns or mixed cities inside Israel. Police rarely seem able to stop these crimes or catch their perpetrators. Many residents believe this inability to solve such crimes is an intentional act aimed at ensuring Palestinian communities are mired in crime and poverty, unable to fight for their civil rights and end state discrimination that has contributed to the gun violence epidemic plaguing these neighborhoods.
While Israel isn’t the U.S., and Lebanon isn’t Afghanistan, the common themes that run through both sets of wars are jarring, especially in the way a Western democracy tries to end a military campaign and how it manages (or not) the fate of local allies who fought alongside it.
My mom always tells me not to go to war zones because she’s afraid of losing me. I would never tell my parents when I entered a war zone, so they wouldn’t worry. But this summer when I returned to Palestine to photograph the war, she was pleased. “It’s OK,” she said, because I am next to you!” It’s funny how moms think.
While the attacks carried out by Palestinian citizens of Israel were extensive and deadly, the overwhelming focus on that violence prevented the emergence of a much-needed debate within Israel about its growing problem of Jewish radicalization.
The obstacles are daunting, but no law of nature dictates that Lebanon must remain last in line to make an honorable and complete peace with its neighbor to the south, one that secures the interests of the “Precarious Republic” and its citizens.
Arabs are of course not of a single mind on any particular issue, nor is it possible to gauge public opinion under tyrannical regimes. But it is indicative of the fact that these authoritarians no longer see the pan-Arab Palestinian cause and supporting it as vital to their survival.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Benjamin Netanyahu have become their countries’ longest-serving leaders by claiming to speak for silent majorities. In doing so, they have taken their respective countries in new directions.