In Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan’s hand, a brick is so much more than a brick – but not in the way he thinks.
by Kathryn Shihadah, reposted from Palestine Home, January 31, 2022
In a UN Security Council open debate on the Palestinian issue Wednesday, Israeli ambassador Gilad Erdan predictably had a statement prepared to deliver to the world.
To illustrate his point, Erdan brought a visual aid: a brick. He described the “terror attacks” that Israelis allegedly experience every day at the hands of rock-throwing Palestinians who are, by association, terrorists.
He marveled aloud that “the world says nothing,” and the UN Security Council shows “utter disregard for Palestinian rock-throwing terrorism.”
This speech was so ludicrous on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin. His report, like so many before it, dripped with irony to which he was apparently oblivious. It makes for almost effortless analysis.
Objectively, morally asymmetrical
Rock-throwing, though not without risks, is a mild, mostly symbolic answer to Israeli tanks, snipers, fighter jets, bombs, wrecking balls, and a large standing army, not to mention occupation. The idea that the Palestinian side is committing terrorism is laughable.
As Dr. Ramzy Baroud explains,
[Palestinian] resistance is morally and legally justifiable. Israel, on the other hand, like all other military occupiers and colonialists, has neither a moral nor a legal argument to justify its oppression of Palestinians.
Moreover, criticizing Palestinian weapons, however primitive or destructive, engages Israel in a misleading conversation that creates a moral equivalence between the occupier and the occupied, the colonialist and the colonized.
Judicial, military apartheid
Rock-throwing is practiced not just by Palestinians, but also by Israelis (especially Ideological settlers). Oddly, though, only Palestinians are tried in Israel’s military court, widely known to be deeply problematic; only Palestinians are subject to a sentence of up to 20 years. Jewish Israelis who commit the same offense are tried in civil court, and routinely get lighter sentences.
But Israeli stone-throwers are rarely pursued, caught, or prosecuted. Why?
Rock-throwing Israelis often enjoy the luxury of military supervision. Observers have filmed many instances of Israeli settlers throwing stones as Israeli soldiers look on; at times, the settlers and soldiers work together. If a Palestinian retaliates, the soldiers are there to arrest or shoot him.
Ambassador Erdan’s prop is also a reminder that Israel routinely demolishes Palestinian homes, leaving rubble ripe for the picking by those protesting this illegal practice. (As Ian Williams, President of the Foreign Press Association, commented that having no sense of perspective is a career plus for any Israeli representative at the UN.)
The UN knows the facts
Most member states in the UN know the reality in Palestine/Israel: the organization’s archives show that there have been over 28,000 reports, speeches, and meetings on the subject – the vast majority of them in regard to Israel’s various human rights abuses against Palestinians. The startlingly high number of references to the issue only proves that Israel has done little or nothing to rectify it.
UN bodies have also passed over 700 resolutions critical of Israel (that number would be larger, had the US not blocked over 50). Again, the profusion of resolutions is tied to Israel’s refusal to comply.
Israel partisans insist that all of this proves the UN – and indeed, the world itself – has an anti-Israel bias, most likely rooted in antisemitism.
The plain and simple fact is that Israel is oppressing the Palestinian population – and reaping the consequences, as would any state engaging in such oppression.
Palestinian intellectual Edward Said once described Palestinian youths:
with stones and an unbent political will [stand] fearlessly against the blows of well-armed Israeli soldiers, backed by one of the world’s mightiest defense establishments, bankrolled unflinchingly and unquestioningly by the world’s wealthiest nation, supported faithfully and smilingly by a whole apparatus of intellectual lackeys.
Former Yale professor Charles Black put the issue in perspective:
Against huge odds, quite without real weapons or any other resources, they at last decline to submit, and instead go out on the streets and pick up stones. They are beaten without let or mercy. They are imprisoned under obscene conditions, after kangaroo trials, or no trials at all.
They are regularly shot at; enough of them are killed to make death as ever-present and as realistic a possibility as it was in our Korean and Vietnam Wars. Many are maimed; many are disfigured for life. Yet they come out in the streets again and again, these young people, some not much more than children, and they pick up stones.
Given this context, it is a wonder, not that the world is silent about Palestinian rock-throwing, but that it has done so little about Israeli brutality.
Kathryn Shihadah is an editor and staff writer for If Americans Knew. She also blogs at Palestine Home.