Allow me to start with the following phrase. Normalizing the occupation is one of the most dangerous notions that the Palestinian people in the occupied territory face nowadays.
In the early years of the occupation, that is the occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem starting from June 1967, Palestinians were still fighting the Israeli colonization on all levels. Back than it was easy to recognize the occupiers; occupation was obvious as it penetrated through all aspects of life; it affected the schools and its pupils, the hospitals, its patients and its doctors. As it was, back than, still the occupier that was responsible of the civilian life; Soldiers and officers set out the rules for daily Palestinian life. People could easily identify their enemy; the blond man wearing the green army suit.
Although it was through Oslo that the Israeli colonization started to take other forms, people, at first, were still able to identify the brutal occupation. The big military towers, jeeps patrolling the streets between the by PA controlled cities, the manned checkpoints, and finally the settlements that came crawling down the hill tops. At early stages of Oslo, the people were still highly aware of those dangers, yet they didn’t act. As also they, like their leadership, were mislead by the illusion of peace; a peace with Israel. A peace with the colonizer, a colonizer that was in fact not leaving the territory it had so violently taken, but a colonizer that was in fact staying and hovering over the execution of decolonization within a by them defined piece of land.
It was only at the end of the nineties that the Palestinian people started to see the reality as the illusion started to fade away; settlements were ever expanding; more and more land was absorbed by the colonizer that had promised them ‘ peace’; and the population of imprisoned Palestinians in Israeli jails kept on growing. Until finally the ‘peace talks’ were put to a Halt!
Then at the 28th September of 2000 the second Intifada broke out, one of the bloodiest eras in the Palestinian history, after the Lebanon war of 1976-1989, was about to begin. Hundreds of Palestinians were killed in the first months, thousands in a few years. It was then that the Palestinian was disparately trying to fight tanks and jet fighters with AK47, RPJ, and home made rockets.
Then in 2006, the Palestinian election were held, the elections that were widely encouraged and even demanded for by all of the so called ‘democratic’ states in the West. Unfortunately for them, the elections ended with a major victory for the Islamic Hamas over the secular Fatah. As for divide and rule, the elections would, due to a clash of interests, end with an almost total separation between the West Bank (staying under Fatah government control) and Gaza( now under Hamas government control).
In December 2008, Israel would start one of it’s biggest operations since the Lebanon war of 2006, i.e. they would start an operation they called “Cast Lead”. An operation that was meant, at least this is how they tried to legitimize it to the West, to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas. Slogans such as ” We have to stop the Hamas rockets that kill innocent Israeli lives” were brought up to legitimize the killing of at least 1400 Palestinians, the majority of them being civilians. Hamas stayed in power and rockets are still falling on the Israeli side. Al in all cast lead was just another run of killing worthless Arabs, while showing the Palestinians and the Arab world with what this cruel exhibitionist colonizer could come away with; without sanctions, without economic loss. (In fact, they might even have gained financially.)
All of those atrocities committed against the Palestinian people, compelled the Palestinian people to build a defense mechanism of acceptance to what was and is happening on the ground in the last few years. This mechanism was later reinforced and fortified by Israel’s policies ‘to ease’ the situation in the west bank; checkpoints became unmanned and people were able to travel with their own cars between the by the PA controlled cities in so-called A areas. And off course this all was accompanied by a huge dose of capitalism to smear the transaction from a occupation fought against to an occupation normalized in the minds of the people. Slowly people took on nice jobs in Ramallah with relatively good salaries, and went out at nights in one of the many western-look-a-like-bars and night clubs. Eventually people even applied for trips to a beach in Tel aviv and Natanya, that they once called their own. In other words, the wall kept on eating more and more land from the West Bank, settlements kept on expanding, yet the Palestinian people seamed not to notice it anymore or seamed unwilling to grasp the seriousness of the situation that they were slowly buying themselves into.
Finally, Palestinians reached a level where they were unable or unwilling to grasp the occupation that still affects most of their lives. The IDF became just another law enforcer, just like the Palestinian policemen were becoming. And settlers were just some nasty neighbors, but hey, that doesn’t mean we can’t live with them, it doesn’t mean we can’t drive on high ways especially designed for them, right?
In general people tend to ignore what doesn’t affect them directly. So why the fuck should I care about an old man who just lost his land to a settlement in Hebron? This doesn’t affect me so it doesn’t bother me. And why would I care about a piece of land lost by the building of the Apartheid Wall, in bilin, nilin, walaja, just to name some villages affected by its building? So what if a man was beaten or shot by a settler in Iraq Bourin, Awarta, or Hebron? They are not relatives of me anyway.
At the same time you will find many of those normalizing the situation, cursing the evil Jews, “those mother fucking bastards who kill us everyday”, posting pictures and videos with racist and antisemitic comments into the cyber world. While in the meantime, that is in the real world, the ones who are really making a difference on ground are often Jewish and Israeli anarchists. Well I might be exaggerating it a bit here, but you can’t undermine the role they are playing in our resistance movements anymore.
The Palestinians residing in the occupied territories, after 44 years of occupation, reached a level where it is OK to have soldiers passing by people;the military towers practically became part of the landscape and the same will soon apply for the apartheid wall; as for the checkpoints, well they are there to protect us from… us.
The saddest part is that the same applies for the Palestinian activist community, though it may be harder to notice the normalizing patterns in these communities. In order to notice it, one is required to look to the story told on the other side as well; when they talk of the current situation they tend to diminish the suffering of the Israeli and exaggerate the occupation’s actions. Not because they think the Israelis aren’t any good, but because they been through too much and start to believe that their suffering is not enough to interest the white world. So they start to make up much worse stories, making the Israeli Occupation forces look worse than they in fact are. Such behavior will, in the end, only lead to a disastrous outcome, as the Israeli propaganda machine, well-oiled as it is, will only gladly use this misleading picture Palestinians start to portray in order to demonstrate the world that all of the Palestinian people are suffering from are their own lies.
I am only saying this, because we need to understand, our suffering is not something we have to get used to, we do need to cope with the occupation to live, but this shouldn’t blind us from the obvious fact, we still live under occupation. closing your eyes wishing it will go away wont work, opening your eyes so wide it ain’t big enough for you wont help either.
My fellow Palestinian, things are what we see! checkpoints are checkpoints, whether it was maned or unmanned, military towers are military towers. Nothing is normal about occupation and colonization. Your suffering is huge no matter how small you see it!
Think simple… Act simple!