Israeli Journalist Amira Haas Slammed for Defending Palestinian Stone-Throwing
A prominent Israeli journalist is being accused of incitement after she published an editorial piece defending the right of Palestinians to resist occupation and oppression by throwing stones at Israeli troops.
Last week, 56-year-old Amira Haas, who has lived in and reported from the occupied Palestinian territories for decades, published an op-ed piece in the left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz in which she wrote that “throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule.”
“Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance,” Haas wrote. “Persecution of stone-throwers, including 8-year-old children, is an inseparable part… of the job requirements of the foreign ruler, no less than shooting, torture, land theft, restrictions on movement, and the unequal distribution of water sources.”
The job of the Israeli occupiers, Haas writes, “is to protect the fruits of violence instilled in foreign occupation– resources, profits, power and privileges.”
Haas also asserts that resistance, both by stone-throwing and less violent means, ought to be taught in Palestinian schools, as well as the limitations of such actions and the need to distinguish between Israeli “civilians and those who carry arms.”
Haas’ article has sparked widespread outrage in Israel. The journalist has been accused of inciting violence, and the Yesha Council– a group representing the Jewish settlers who are illegally colonizing the occupied West Bank– and the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel have both filed complaints with police demanding investigations of both Haas and Haaretz.
An op-ed piece by retired Israeli colonel Meir Indor on the right-wing site Arutz Sheva accused Haas of “turning traitor long ago,” as well as of advocating a “license to murder.”
Orit Strock, a member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) representing the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home Party, called Haas’ article a “dangerous incitement toward violent acts against civilians and an encouragement to assault soldiers.”
Moshe Feiglin, a Knesset member representing Likud, the far-right party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, issued a statement saying, “Haas’ words are condemnable and are considered an expression of disloyalty to the state.” Feiglin added that “the article by Haas delights those who don’t recognize that the state between the sea and the river belongs to the Jewish people alone.”
Feiglin was referring to the land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, the ancient Jewish homeland in which the last Jewish kingdom was overthrown in biblical times. From then until the early 20th century, Jews never numbered more than 10 percent of the population of what has been called Palestine since ancient times. After the advent and rise of Zionism in the late 19th century, Jewish colonization of Palestine, at first encouraged by Britain (which ruled the area following the defeat of the Ottoman empire in World War I), planted the seeds of a Jewish resurgence in the Holy Land. But the British rulers of Palestine, disappointed by Zionist usurpation of Arab lands, rejected Jewish statehood aspirations by the late 1930s and a Zionist terror campaign against both British and Arabs followed, culminating in British withdrawal the formal establishment of the modern Jewish state, backed by the fledgling United Nations, in 1948.
An ethnic cleansing campaign against Palestine’s Arabs accompanied Israel’s independence, with more than 700,000 Arabs expelled, sometimes by massacre, from their homes and villages. Today, there are 5 million Palestinian refugees denied the right of return to their ancestral homeland by Israel. There are also some 4 million Palestinians living under oppressive Israeli occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and, effectively, the Gaza Strip, all of which were conquered in a 1967 war. Dozens of United Nations resolutions have condemned Israel’s illegal occupation, yet it has continued for more than 45 years.
It is against this occupation which Palestinians, mostly boys and young men, resist by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. Massively outgunned by heavily armed and armored Israeli forces gifted billions of dollars worth of the latest high-tech weaponry by the United States, the stone-throwers’ actions are mostly symbolic. Sometimes, Israeli occupation forces and, rarely, civilians are injured by stone-throwing Palestinians. Last month Adele Bitton, a two-year-old Israeli girl, was critically wounded in such an attack.
But far more often it is the Palestinians who are injured or killed when Israeli troops respond to stones with live bullets. Often, innocent Palestinian bystanders, including women and children, are killed when Israeli forces open fire in response to stone- or Molotov cocktail-throwing.
Writing directly to Amira Haas, Adva Bitton, the mother of the toddler wounded in a stone-throwing attack, said:
“I agree with you that everyone deserves their freedom. Arab and Jew alike. I agree with you that we all ought to aspire to liberty, but there isn’t a person on earth who will achieve freedom and liberty by means of an instrument of death.” Bitton seemingly ignores the fact that the “freedom and liberty” of the Jewish state has been achieved and is maintained through a great deal of use of “instruments of death.”
“There’s no reason on earth that Adele, my 3-year-old daughter, should have to lie in the intensive care unit now, connected to tubes and fighting for her life, and there is no reason, Amira, for you to encourage that.”
Responding to critics, Haas told the Observer that she was “surprised they don’t read the whole text” of her article, correctly pointing out that she’d made “a clear distinction between a citizen and a soldier or someone who carries arms” as a legitimate target for stone-throwers.
Haas is no stranger to controversy. She has repeatedly referred to Israel as an “apartheid state,” a sentiment shared by many prominent international observers including former US President Jimmy Carter and South African apartheid survivor Desmond Tutu. She has been relentlessly critical of Israeli policies and actions in the occupied territories and beyond, prompting many Israel apologists to brand her a “traitor.”
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