The Palestinians you Won’t See

The other night, I watched as Israeli news reported live the return of the bodies of terrorists who had been shot dead trying to kill Israelis. I watched an ambulance arrive with the body inside to the cheers of a mob screaming “Allah hu Akhbar, Allah hu Akhbar.” They were shouting it like a football chant.

The bodies were carried out of the ambulance in front of an honour guard of uniformed, armed members of the Palestinian Authority security services, the terrorists were praised by Abbas himself.

It was one of those moments where you sit, mouth open, shocked, wondering how on earth it’s possible that we could be that hated. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I should have remembered that first operation I conducted in Nablus when I first saw all the posters of suicide bombers proudly displayed on the walls of the city. There were so many that they occupied every conceivable space. Photos printed on them captured from the news revealed the carnage they had caused. The body counts were proudly displayed for all to see.

So no, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. These images were beamed to an Israeli public in real time, the whole country was treated to the spectacle of those who both attempted to, and succeeded in killing Israeli soldiers and civilians being offered a hero’s welcome when their bodies were brought home.

The IDF just closed a popular Palestinian radio station for incitement and the Knesset  just raised the minimum sentence for rock throwing to three years. Does anyone think that closing that radio station is going to stop the stabbings? Will the minimum sentence stop rock throwing?

I doubt it, but in this tough time, we must be seen to be doing something right?

After a suicide bombing, I used to get sent to the village or town the suicide bomber came from. There was nothing to do there, anyone who was vaguely connected to the terror attack had gone to ground long before our arrival. But it sounded so good, in the wake of a suicide bombing to say “the IDF is conducting security operations in the village the bomber came from.”

No one ever seemed to ask just what that meant. Even if they had, we always could have been sent door to door. You know. Just to be thorough.

And when I went door to door, house to house, room to room in that village, I found something that doesn’t appear on YouTube videos and Instagram pictures.

I found people.

Palestinians who weren’t frothing at the mouth, Palestinians who weren’t out on the streets screaming Allah hu Akhbar, Palestinians who talked about the good old days when they were able to work in construction in Herzliya and bring home money for their families. Palestinians who didn’t give a shit about bombings or stabbings or throwing rocks…or Jewish worship in Hebron or whether Israeli politicians thought Jerusalem was a divided city or not.

People who wanted some semblance of a normal life.

Those are the people you NEVER see on YouTube, or Instagram or in short videos in that WhatsApp group where everyone is racist, but you stay in there anyway just to watch the videos they send around. People who want peace, who are frightened and powerless, people who you could sit with, people who, if the world were just a little different could be your friends.

The people you aren’t talking about when you say “the Palestinians don’t want peace”. The people you aren’t talking about at all.