Why Israeli Leaders Love Qassam Rockets: A Reply to  Michael Neumann

by John Spritzler

January 20, 2009



Michael Neumann, in his January 13, 2009 article, Slave Revolts and Passionate Evasions: Hamas and Gaza, argues that it is unpersuasive to express support for the Palestinian struggle against Zionism if one does not also support Palestinian violence against Jewish Israeli non-combatants, such as the Qassam rockets that Hamas fires into Israeli towns, knowing that they will in all likelihood strike civilians and not military targets.

Neumann argues his case by analogy: Palestinians are to Israelis as "you on your farm" are to a "bunch of thugs" with their families all around you who have taken most of your land and resources and are out for more. He very logically demonstrates that "you on your farm" have a right to use weapons against the thugs that will harm their (presumably innocent) families. But Neumann's analogy has a false premise. The thugs don't want their families to be killed by you, but Israeli leaders do want Jewish Israeli non-combatants to be killed by Palestinians.

Let's Not Be Naive

Israeli leaders want Jews to believe that they are surrounded by violent anti-Semites. This is how the billionaires and generals and politicians who rule over the Israeli population get away with what they are doing: getting richer and more powerful while driving the rest of the population down economically. They need the Israeli population to believe that the rulers of Israel are protecting Jews from the "real enemy"--violent anti-Semitic Arabs. To make sure the "real enemy" remains credible, non-combatant Jews must die at the hands of apparent anti-Semites. Some of the evidence that Israeli/Zionist leaders want Jews to die this way is assembled here in detail. Briefly, it shows that:

1. Israel could have stopped the Qassam rockets by simply agreeing to the cease-fire that Hamas proposed in mid-December of 2008, but preferred to reject the proposal thus ensuring the continuation of the rocket firings. [Click here for more details.]

2. In the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon, Israel deliberately left pockets of Hezbollah missiles unharmed in order to ensure that they would continue to be fired at Israeli civilians. [Click here for more details.]

3. In 2005 the IDF fired rockets on an Israeli town to make it seem that Hezbollah had done it. [Click here for more details.]

4. In 1985 Israeli Military Intelligence orchestrated the "Palestinian" attack on the cruise ship Achille Lauro, in which "militants" picked up an elderly American Jewish man in a wheelchair, killed him, and threw his body overboard. [Click here for more details.]

5. In 1976 Israel's Shin Bet security service collaborated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to hijack the June 1976 flight from Israel that was diverted to Entebbe, Uganda. Three of the plane's passengers were killed by "militants." [Click here for more details.]

6. In 1942 Zionist leaders consistently opposed rescue efforts of European Jews from the Nazis. [Click here for more details.]

7. In 1938 Israel's future first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, said he would prefer, on the one hand, half the Jewish children in Germany being killed by Nazis so that the other half could go to "Eretz Israel" to, on the other hand, all the children being saved but living in England. [Click here for more details.]

8. Israeli leaders spread a misleading description of the 1648 Chmielnicki Rebellion in Poland/Ukraine to make it seem that gentiles are innately and mysteriously anti-Semitic. Peasants at this time rose up against oppression, killing tens of thousands of people. They practiced the worst  cruelty on Polish nobility and Catholic priests, and less cruelty against Jews. But Zionist accounts make it seem as if anti-Semitism is the explanation for what happened. [Click here for more details.]

In actual practice, supporting the right of Palestinians to target violence against Jewish Israeli non-combatants isn't supporting their right to self-defense. On the contrary, it is helping the Zionists strengthen their power. Some right!

Let's Be Persuasive

Neumann says that one must defend the "right" of Palestinians to fire Qassam rockets at Israeli civilians in order to persuasively convince people to support the Palestinian struggle. This is just plain wrong. It is the Zionists who want people to believe that supporting the Palestinian struggle against ethnic cleansing is equivalent to supporting violence targeted against non-combatants. The Zionists' #1 propaganda theme is this very point. They know that if people believe this, they will be reluctant to take the side of Palestinians. What we need to tell people is that one can oppose Zionist ethnic cleansing without supporting violence targeting non-combatants, just as many people in America's past opposed slavery without supporting the killing of white children by slaves during the Nat Turner slave rebellion. How stupid it would have been for abolitionists to have told people back then that opposing slavery was equivalent to supporting the killing of white children! Any "abolitionist" who advanced that argument would certainly have been viewed by slave-owners as an ally, even if an unwitting ally, of slavery.

So far, we've been talking about violence that is targeted specifically against non-combatants (or, like the Qassam rockets, violence that might just as well be targeted against non-combatants.) The morality and politics of violence targeted against military targets, i.e. those who violently oppress people, such as the IDF soldiers and some civilian Jewish settlers, is a different matter. Such violence is truly in self-defense, and is justified morally. It is also politically productive because the self-defensive character of it is easily seen and understood by most people. This is why American GIs in Vietnam, even though shot at by the Viet Cong, came to understand that the Vietnamese were fighting in self-defense. If Palestinians targeted violence exclusively against military targets, then even if some non-combatants died as an unintended consequence, most people would understand, or come to understand, that it was violence in self-defense. 

The persuasive and the moral way to build support for the Palestinian struggle against ethnic cleansing is to identify the just aims of the struggle and say that violence in self-defense for those aims is moral and that violence that is not in self-defense is not. I have had fairly extensive experience talking with Americans on the street and in front of supermarkets and in people's homes in the course of campaigning for ballot questions against Israeli ethnic cleansing and apartheid. I find most people are very persuaded by this approach. They get it. Why can't Michael Neumann?


John Spritzler is the author of The People As Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda In World War II, and a Research Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health.


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