Moral Low Ground


Tel Aviv Mayor: Israeli Occupation Fuels Palestinian Terror

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. (Photo: Hubert Burda Media)

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. (Photo: Hubert Burda Media)

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai raised eyebrows and ire Thursday morning, just hours after Palestinian terrorists killed four Jews in a shooting attack on a crowded outdoor market there, when he said in a radio interview that his country’s 49-year occupation of Palestine is fueling Palestinian terrorism.

Speaking on Army Radio about Wednesday’s deadly shooting, Huldai, a former Air Force pilot, was asked if he believes there is any chance for peace when some Palestinians celebrated the attack. His response faulted Israel’s illegal occupation, not the celebrants. Huldai noted that Israel is “perhaps the only country in the world holding another nation under occupation without civil rights.”

“On the one hand the occupation has lasted 49 years, and I took part in it,” Huldai told journalist Ilana Dayan. “I recognize the reality and know that leaders with courage must look to take action and not just talk. The fact that we are suffering does not lead to a change in understanding of what must be done… There is no courage to do what needs to be done in order to reach a [peace] agreement.”

“There is no way to hold people in a situation of occupation and think that they will reach the conclusion that every thing is okay and they will continue to live like that,” Huldai added in a statement reminiscent of what David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, acknowledged about the Palestinians in 1937 when he warned that “a people which fights against the usurpation of its land will not tire so easily.”

Under international law, both Israel’s occupation of Palestine and its Jews-only settlement construction and expansion on occupied land are illegal, although Israel refutes this. Prominent international critics, including Nobel peace laureates Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and others, have Israeli policies and actions in Palestine apartheid and even ethnic cleansing.

The Jerusalem Post reports Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan responded to Huldai during an address to the Institute of National Security Studies. “I heard the mayor of Tel Aviv saying the occupation is to blame, or that it’s because we don’t have a peace treaty with the Palestinians, and that’s why we have terrorism,” Ben-Dahan stated. “I want to remind him that there was terrorism here 100 years ago, and in 1929 [in the Hebron massacre] Jews were murdered and there was no State of Israel. There wasn’t even an ‘occupation.’”

However, Ben-Dahan’s remarks ignore the fact that from ancient times until the early 20th century, Jews never numbered more than 10 percent of the population of what is today Israel, and that Zionist colonization of Palestine sparked Arab violence against Jews. Also, after the British, who occupied Palestine from the end of World War I until shortly before Israeli independence was declared in 1948, ordered an end to Jewish immigration to Palestine due to escalating violence and Jewish violations of the Balfour Declaration stipulation that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine,” Jewish terrorist groups targeted both British and Arab civilians. Future Israeli prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin both led militant Jewish groups responsible for many deadly terrorist attacks, including the assassination of British Minister of State Lord Moyne in Cairo and the 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, an attack which killed 91 people—including 28 Britons—and is still celebrated in Israel today.

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