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Palestine: Murder or terror rampage?

Only Arabs are terrorists… reads the subject heading on live from occupied palestine‘s blog. The blogger is referring to the headlines splashed across Israeli and foreign newspapers after Husam Taysir Dwayat, a Palestinian living in Jerusalem, drove a bulldozer down a crowded street in West Jerusalem, killing three and wounding at least 66 others. Dwayat's spree ended when an off-duty Israeli soldier shot and killed him.

The headlines following Dwayat's rampage included “Bulldozer terror rampage in Jerusalem“. They also focused on Dwayat's prior relationship with a Jewish woman with headlines such as “Jerusalem attacker once had Jewish girlfriend“. Some articles even claimed that Dwayat yelled “God is Great!”

live from occupied palestine expounds on the question of why Dwayat is being labeled a terrorist:

So if Dwayat’s murderous act was not politically motivated, if he was not acting as part of a “sub national groups or clandestine agents”, why is he being labeled by the Israeli media, politicians and other state officials “a terrorist”? Why if he acted alone, in what Israeli security forces and police believe to be an unpremeditated act, is Dwayat being marked as a terrorist?

The answer is, of course, simple. Dwayat was a Palestinian Arab, so quid pro quo, he must be a terrorist. This fact and this fact alone is the reason for him being labeled a terrorist.

DesertPeace is also all to aware of the headlines, and remarks upon those drawing attention to Dwayat's relationship with a Jewish woman:

Truly an earth shattering revelation…. Used to be “All the news that fits, we print”…. Now it’s “All the news that sells, we print”.

Well, I for one ain’t buying!

Will of KABOBfest shares another perspective; the symbolism of the bulldozer in Israel and Palestine:

By killing three Israeli civilians, these acts of murder represent an ironic tragedy. While the shedding of no civilian blood is ever justified, how we talk about such acts is important. Rather than framing it as an isolated incident or as one more heedless Palestinian attack, we should really examine why construction equipment has become a tool of death and destruction in Israel-Palestine. For Palestinian, the bulldozer is a symbol of Israeli aggression. One assault with a bulldozer by a Palestinian does not change that. It only reminds us of the urgent need for a just peace.

Rima Abdelkader, in her blog, helps readers understand the incident by explaining:

Another important fact left out in Wednesday’s coverage is that bulldozers, specifically Caterpillar, are in some cases used to demolish Palestinian homes. One even killed American peace activist Rachel Corrie in March 2003 who risked her life to protest against the demolitions. This bit of information is significant in discussing Wednesday’s turn of events since the attacker used a Caterpillar bulldozer to kill innocent civilians.


  • Soufiene

    “Today most Israelis has lost their confidence in the Palestinians wish for peace”

    Really!! But who killed Isaac Rabin, a Palestinian ?!! The assassination of Rabin is not an isolated act as the Israeli media tried to make us understand. It was planified by the extreme right in order to confuse the peace process. And thereafter, who began assassinating Hamas leaders for spite?! Is’nt Yehoud Barack ?! The resulting suicide bombing, was a retaliation to Barack attacks. I don’t mind about propaganda, what it counts, is the facts.

  • Tal

    Dear Soufiene,

    The name of the guy that killed Rabin is Iga’al Amir. He was one man that committed a crime. the Israeli right apposed the Oslo agreement, but they did not kill Rabin. The extreme right in Israel is a bunch of people that may not be more the 300 to 1000 men and women (although they made a big noise in the media).

    You wrote:
    “And thereafter, who began assassinating Hamas leaders for spite?! ”

    Please look at the history record, and see that the reason that Israel started to hunt the Hamas leaders, was because Buses full of citizens sudenly started blowup when the hamas leaders ware around. The reason Israelis had choosed Nethanyho (how opposed the Oslo agrements) was because since the oslo agreements people in Israel started to be under heavy terror attacks by the Hamas and the Fatach.

    You also said:
    “The resulting suicide bombing, was a retaliation to Barack attacks. I don’t mind about propaganda, what it counts, is the facts.”

    Yes, I love people how adhere to the facts. It gives som sense of realty. Lets stick to the facts. Suicide bombing started in 1994, one year before the murder of Itzhak Rabin. So by the common law of cause and effect, the suicide bombing could not be the resault of those attacks on Hamas leaders (but it may be the other way around).

    Please let me suggest another scenario (wich match what the Fatach and Hamas leaders say to their people: The cause of the suicide bombing, is the will of the Palestinians leaders to destroy Israel by terror and propaganda.

    All the best,

  • Jean-Francois

    Thanks Jillian, your article is relevant and raises important questions concerning fairness/accuracy in media coverage of events in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The blog “live from occupied Palestine” is interesting though very biased and I would like to nuance it and make a few comments about the provocative “only Arabs are terrorists” statement:

    The blog inflates this tragic incident to epic proportions and into an indictment of Israeli media/governement/Israelis (the distinction is not clear–is it a politically correct way of saying Jews?). He labels them ‘racist’–the cardinal sin in the western world–in what I think is a subtle way of vilifying them. One could argue that this is thinly veiled racism. If the blogs’ concern really was media accuracy and honesty, which the blogger argues is a problem with Israeli media in general, then he would have stuck to the facts, namely those surrounding this incident only. The blogger would have indicated how in this specific case, there may have been a lack of accuracy, integrity, professionalism, etc. and explain why. Instead, he uses this event as a springboard to demonstrate this is a widespread phenomenon and that the Israeli media are racist. That is patently false. Unlike it’s muslim neighbors, Israel has a free press that is critical of its own government, military and various policies. There are more conservative outlets and more liberal ones.

    The blog rightly points out that considering the evidence, it seems the Israeli media were probably too quick to judge and label Husam Taysir Dwayat a terrorist. It also rightly alludes to the fact that Olmert may have used this tragic event for political gain and propaganda (assuming he is aware Husam was not a terrorist yet still called so and demanded his family home be demolished–his statement indeed does smack of demagoguery). But since some obscure, new terrorist organizations have tried to claim responsibility for the attack (even if the claims are spurious and aimed at gaining visibility), the Israeli government must play it safe and consider those claims seriously. Also, as the Associated Press article linked above by Jillian notes: “The morning after the attack, female relatives began shouting “martyr” outside Dwayat’s home, but his father, Taysir, quickly silenced them. Taysir told Israel’s Maariv daily that his son was a drug addict and not a ‘terrorist’ “. This little tidbit about the female relatives is conspicuously absent from the blog. One can hardly be justified in blaming the Israeli government and media alone for their reaction. If some Palestinians viewed his death as martyrdom, it is easy to conceive that some Israeli Jews and then the media viewed him as a ‘terrorist’–it was the little justification they needed to fit their prejudgment. The media may have lacked professionalism or even integrity, but that hardly makes them, and by extension the Israeli state racist, as the blog states.

    Furthermore–and I know this will anger many–it is easy to understand how the Israeli media may have jumped the gun and wrongfully cried “terrorist!”. An Arab Muslim goes berserk in a bulldozer and kills a few Jews. Yes, in this case he’s a murderer, and is probably unjustly being labeled a terrorist. But, not only to Israelis but to almost any non-Muslim in the world, the semantic combination of Arab+Muslim+Murder = Terrorist (if one puts other considerations aside). A simplistic and misleading equation to be sure, but one that all too often corresponds to reality. The ugly fact is that virtually the only people in Israel and the rest of the world today who commit terrorist attacks, as per the definition of the US State Department and cited in the blog (especially of the kamikaze kind), are Palestinian or Muslim respectively (the IRA, Corsican separatists, FARC, etc. and their ilk pale in comparison whether in scale and frequency of violence or potential threat to civilian populations and governments. Their behavior and tactics are dissimilar).

    To underscore the alleged “strident anti-Arab racism of the Israeli Zionist state” (a formula eerily reminiscent of Hamas rhetoric), the blogger reminds us of 2 infamous Jewish terrorists: Baruch Goldstein and Eden Natan-Zada. The blogger perceives a double standard in the way the families of
    dead terrorists are treated according to ethnicity and the criteria he focuses on is the Israelis’ demolishing of Palestinian homes as punishment, and their refusal to do the same for Jews.

    I’m not arguing the morality of demolishing peoples’ homes as punishment, only saying that it is a logical consequence and useful political weapon. A logical consequence in the sense that their family homes are used as bases to make weapons, plan attacks, or harbour terrorists, etc. all in the knowledge of the family. That is the point the Israeli government wishes to communicate; that there are dire and immediate consequences to harboring and supporting terrorist, even if they are family. Maybe in this case, they were wrong to destroy his home since he seems to have simply gone insane (and that needs to be investigated). But to destroy Goldstein’s and Natan-Zada’s family homes (were they living with their parents?) just to be ‘fair’ or ‘treat them equally’ is illogical and fails to see the qualitative difference between their brand of terrorism and jihadist terrorism–whose ultimate goal is to destroy the state of Israel. Goldstein & Co. are not threats to Israeli State.

    Israelis are constantly assailed by the terrorist threat. Though one may disagree with their unjust treatment of Palestinians, it is easy to understand their predicament and reactions. The Israeli state is surrounded by hostile nations and/or populations and has dozens of active and highly organized terrorist organizations working from within its territory or close nearby. Its prejudice and reactions are largely motivated by fear and the survival instinct, except for a few extremists and Kahane sympathizers who are ideological fanatics numbering less than 1000 individuals, and likely to be around 300-400. Compare that to the mass hysteria, blind hate and rhetoric found among hundreds of thousands of Palestinians…

    We may criticize the way Israel handles the terrorist problem, but I doubt we would fare better under similar circumstances. If a specific ethnic/religious minority within our respective societies was to adopt the same nihilistic ideology and modus operandi as Palestinian terrorists do, I think our reaction would be very much the same: racial profiling and suspicion, checkpoints, cordoning areas or neighborhoods, retaliation, etc. People would begin to entertain ‘racist’ thoughts and would lash out. But, just like in Israel, there would there would be restraint, because there is a respect for human rights. If we were to reverse the situation, I think that such restraint would be too much to expect from any of Israel’s neighbors. Their track record proves their total disregard for their own peoples’ basic human rights, which leaves one to wonder how enemies would be treated. In my opinion, Goldstein and Natan-Zada are terrorists and their acts were most heinous–which Ariel Sharon himself recognized–but I understand why their cases were treated differently than a Palestinian terrorists’. The reason simply is that their actions were not directed against the Israeli state. Considering the fact that Hamas, Hezbollah and their breed strive for the annihilation of Israel and Jewry, I can understand (though not justify) Israeli aversion and so-called ‘racist’ reactions to such irrational and blind hate.

    It is ironic that the “strident anti-Arab racism of the Israeli Zionist state” and other accusations pointed at Israel actually typify Arab behavior: ever see Hamas’ Mickey Mouse and what he teaches children? Nowhere else in the world will you see anything so perverse and demented. The fact that it finds resonance with the Arab population is most disturbing. And concerning Arab media in general concerning Israel, well there’s pretty much no debate: they tend to be far worst than any Israeli media. To argue against Israel and for Palestinians on moral grounds is insane.

    Anyway, sorry for the stream of consciousness rant, but the blog irked me a bit. Journalistic integrity is of paramount importance and it seems here that Israeli media may have been too eager–or may have simply suspended their their capacity to think critically–to label Husam Taysir Dwayat a “terrorist”. But I certainly understand their reaction considering their context. I must also add that to accuse Israel of racism while ignoring that of Arabs towards Israel is partisan, hypocritical and misleading; it is a dangerous meme that plays into the deceitful doctrine of al-Taqiyya and spreads hatred. How about reason, honesty and good will for a change? If only Palestinians abandoned the ideologies of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Ismail Haniyah and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah for those of Buddha, Jesus or Gandhi, they would gain substantial public support and a favorable disposition from Israelis. Maybe they would get what they want: a country actually worth dying for.

  • tal forkosh

    yesterday i read this post for the first time. amm i really thought that maybe we r racist because Dwayat was a Palestinian Arab, so quid pro quo, he must be a terrorist.
    but today the same story a Palestinian living in Jerusalem, drove a bulldozer down a crowded street in West Jerusalem, wounding at least 20 people is he still not a terrorist?

  • @ tal – I am so sorry to hear about this latest story. Is he not a terrorist? I don’t know enough details. Situations like these must be taken on a case by case basis. But every time an Arab commits a crime, we can’t automatically call it terrorism.

  • Tal

    Hi Jillian,

    I appreciate your care.
    According to what I know this guy rammed a bus and several cars, and wounded about 20 people. It was much the same as the incident 3 weeks ago. So I guess his aim was to kill civilians, and this, I think, makes him a terrorist.

    I am sorry for the wounded and I am also sorry for his death. But I hope is deeds will not be legitimized be anyone. Palestinians may claim that terror is a legitimate way to fight occupation, but it is not.

    It was if we were not a democracy. But we are and after the first Intifada, in which Palestinians used stones to protest, the I Israeli people did try to give them a land. But when terror broke up, the Israeli embraced them self to the fight and made themselves ready for a long war against terrorism.

    The way to peace is not through terror, but through readiness to except Israel’s existence and readiness to share the land with Israel, according the Oslo agreements.

    May we have better days,

  • tal forkosh

    Jillia – I understand that but still when an Arab commits a crime against Israeli civilian its hard not 2 call it terroirism.

  • […] attack by a Palestinian civilian in less than a month (Global Voices covered the first one here), Palestinian bloggers are frustrated by how local and international media has covered both events, […]

  • Jean-François

    Just wondering why my post has not appeared yet–it’s been over a week. If for some strange reason it has been censored, I would like to know. I don’t believe that my comments were irrelevant to the conversation and they certainly weren’t disrespectful. I’d like your feedback. Thanks.

  • Jean-Francois,

    Although I’m not the one who moderates comments, I just looked for it in the system and did not find it. I’m sure it was simply an accident – feel free to post the same comments again, and we can ensure they show up this time.


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