Chris Hedges: Palestinians Speak Israel’s Language

Israel follows the colonial playbook. Death for death. Atrocity for atrocity. But it is always the occupier who initiates this macabre dance and trades piles of corpses for higher piles of corpses.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind – by Mr. Fish.

By Chris Hedges

The indiscriminate shootings of Israelis by Hamas and other Palestinian resistance organizations, the kidnapping of civilians, the barrage of rockets into Israel, drone attacks on a variety of targets from tanks to automated machine gun nests, are the familiar language of the Israeli occupier.

Israel has spoken this blood-soaked language of violence to the Palestinians since Zionist militias seized more than 78 percent of historic Palestine, destroyed some 530 Palestinian villages and cities and killed about 15,000 Palestinians in more than 70 massacres. Some 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed between 1947 and 1949 to create the state of Israel in 1948.

Israel’s response to these armed incursions will be a genocidal assault on Gaza. Israel will kill dozens of Palestinians for every Israeli killed. Hundreds of Palestinians have already died in Israel air assaults since the launch of “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” on Saturday morning, which left 700 Israelis dead. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu warned Palestinians in Gaza on Sunday to “leave now,” because Israel is going to “turn all Hamas hiding places into rubble.”

But where are Palestinians in Gaza supposed to go? Israel and Egypt blockade the land borders. There is no exit by air or sea, which are controlled by Israel. 

The collective retribution against innocents is a familiar tactic employed by colonial rulers. The U.S. used it against Native Americans and later in the Philippines and Vietnam.

The Germans used it against the Herero and Namaqua in Namibia. The British in Kenya and Malaya. The Nazis used it in the areas they occupied in the Soviet Union, Eastern and Central Europe.

Israel follows the same playbook. Death for death. Atrocity for atrocity. But it is always the occupier who initiates this macabre dance and trades piles of corpses for higher piles of corpses.

This is not to defend the war crimes by either side. It is not to rejoice in the attacks. I have seen enough violence in the Israeli occupied territories, where I covered the conflict for seven years, to loathe violence. But this is the familiar denouement to all settler-colonial  projects.

Regimes implanted and maintained by violence engender violence. The Haitian war of liberation. The Mau Mau in Kenya. The African National Congress in South Africa. These uprisings do not always succeed, but they follow familiar patterns. The Palestinians, like all colonized people, have a right to armed resistance under international law.   

Israel never had any interest in an equitable settlement with the Palestinians. It built an apartheid state and has steadily absorbed larger and larger tracts of Palestinian land in a slow motion campaign of ethnic cleansing. It turned Gaza in 2007 into the world’s largest open air prison.

What does Israel, or the world community, expect?

How can you trap 2.3 million people in Gaza, half of whom are unemployed, in one of the most densely populated spots on the planet for 16 years, reduce the lives of its residents, half of whom are children, to a subsistence level, deprive them of basic medical supplies, food, water and electricity, use attack aircraft, artillery, mechanized units, missiles, naval guns and infantry units to randomly slaughter unarmed civilians and not expect a violent response?

Israel is currently carrying out waves of aerial assaults on Gaza, preparing a ground invasion and has cut the power to Gaza, which usually only operates two to four hours per day.

Many of the resistance fighters who infiltrated into Israel undoubtedly knew they would be killed. But like resistance fighters in other wars of liberation they decided that if they could not choose how they would live, they would choose how they would die.


Suppression of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising – Captured Jews are led by German Waffen SS soldiers to the assembly point for deportation, “Umschlagplatz.”  (Unknown author, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) 

I was a close friend of Alina Margolis-Edelman who was part of the armed resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in World War II. Her husband, Marek Edelman, was the deputy commander of the uprising and the only leader to survive the war.

The Nazis had sealed 400,000 Polish Jews inside the Warsaw Ghetto. The trapped Jews died in the thousands, from starvation, disease and indiscriminate violence. When the Nazis began to transport the remaining Jews to the extermination camps the resistance fighters fought back. None expected to survive.

Edelman, after the war, condemned Zionism as a racist ideology used to justify the theft of Palestinian land. He sided with the Palestinians, supported their armed resistance and met frequently with Palestinians leaders. He thundered against Israel’s appropriation of the Holocaust to justify its repression of the Palestinian people.

While Israel dined out on the mythology of the ghetto uprising, it treated the only surviving leader of the uprising, who refused to leave Poland, as a pariah. Edelman understood that the lesson of the Holocaust and the ghetto uprising was not that Jews are morally superior or eternal victims. History, Edelman said, belongs to everyone. The oppressed, including the Palestinians, had a right to fight for equality, dignity and liberty.

“To be a Jew means always being with the oppressed and never the oppressors,” Edelman said.

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The Warsaw uprising has long inspired the Palestinians. Representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) used to lay a wreath at the annual commemoration of the uprising in Poland at the Warsaw Ghetto monument.

The more violence the colonizer expends to subdue the occupied, the more it transforms itself into a monster. The current government of Israel is populated by Jewish extremists, fanatic Zionists and religious bigots who are dismantling Israeli democracy and calling for the wholesale expulsion or murder of Palestinians, including those who live inside Israel.

The Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz, whom Isiah Berlin called “the conscience of Israel,” warned that if Israel did not separate church and state it would give rise to a corrupt rabbinate that would warp Judaism into a fascistic cult.

“Religious nationalism is to religion what National Socialism was to socialism,” said Leibowitz, who died in 1994.

He understood that the blind veneration of the military, especially after the 1967 war that captured Egypt’s Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Syria’s Golan Heights, was dangerous and would lead to the ultimate destruction of Israel, along with any hope of democracy.

“Our situation will deteriorate to that of a second Vietnam, to a war in constant escalation without prospect of ultimate resolution,” he warned.

He foresaw that:

“the Arabs would be the working people and the Jews the administrators, inspectors, officials, and police — mainly secret police. A state ruling a hostile population of 1.5 million to 2 million foreigners would necessarily become a secret-police state, with all that this implies for education, free speech and democratic institutions.

The corruption characteristic of every colonial regime would also prevail in the State of Israel. The administration would have to suppress Arab insurgency on the one hand and acquire Arab Quislings on the other. There is also good reason to fear that the Israel Defense Force, which has been until now a people’s army, would, as a result of being transformed into an army of occupation, degenerate, and its commanders, who will have become military governors, resemble their colleagues in other nations.”

He saw that prolonged occupation of the Palestinians would inevitably spawn “concentration camps.”

“Israel,” he said, “would not deserve to exist, and it will not be worthwhile to preserve it.”

The next stage of this struggle will be a massive campaign of industrial slaughter in Gaza by Israel, which has already begun. Israel is convinced greater levels of violence will finally crush Palestinian aspirations.

Israel is mistaken. The terror Israel inflicts is the terror it will get.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning NewsThe Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”

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43 comments for “Chris Hedges: Palestinians Speak Israel’s Language

  1. CaseyG
    October 11, 2023 at 00:40

    I do not understand religions—although the Greeks were certainly a lot more fun. I also do not understand the various governments, which seem to become worse when they add their religious ideas and political ideas together. I am horrified with the U.S. and Israel joining together and creating a mean spirited world which seems to savor controlling people and so very often murdering so many humans in wars.

    Sadly these treatments of the planet and its many people seem to only hurry the ending of this one planet world. But what is most horrifying is that so many humans seem to believe that they will rise into the sky and find a heavenly place where they can all live—forever. Somehow Earthlings, if you can’t get along now—why would you think that you will rise into the sky somewhere and live forever. I can’t think of a worse future for
    humanity. : (

  2. Paula
    October 10, 2023 at 15:30

    If it was expected of some supreme being that humanity would evolve into a more peaceful species, I’m quite certain they have been terribly disappointed.

    Reboot: Start over.

  3. Piotr Berman
    October 10, 2023 at 11:55

    “Israel is convinced greater levels of violence will finally crush Palestinian aspirations.

    Israel is mistaken. The terror Israel inflicts is the terror it will get.”

    Perhaps not. For decades, moderate Zionists were advocating two state solution to avoid apartheid state, because the latter would make the “nations” abhor Israel, sanction, and as a small country, Israel’s survival will be in danger. And they were proven wrong again, again and again. So moderate Zionism is practically extinct, Israel is an apartheid state on steroids, support in the West is stronger and more unconditional than ever etc.

    So far, Israel inflicts terror, gets some of it back, inflict even more terror. Key phrase: mowing grass. In few weeks, with more than 10,000 dead in Gaza and huge proportion of buildings destroyed, Israel will start running short of munitions and USA will have an unusual dilemma: do we have enough for Tel-Aviv and Kiev? I guess that as before, there will be a feeble consensus in USA that massacre went far enough, Egyptian offers of mediation will be accepted, and another phase of tragedy will be completed. It is even possible that there will be some internal changes in Israel, current crew of complete idiots replaced by more competent Zionist who would continue Apartheid more effectively. Fleeting attention of the West will go back to issues of Ukraine, Taiwan and Uighurs.

    On the other hand, this cycle contributes to the erosion of “the collective West” that cannot dominate the world as well as in the “unipolar moment”. Soft power already resembles smelly goo, country after country finds reasons to be less obedient than before, technological supremacy fades away… the choice seems to be if the West will become enfeebled minority on the globe or despised enfeebled minority.

    • robert e williamson jr
      October 11, 2023 at 09:00

      Sir I respect you effort here. It’s an brutal explanation but this reality is most brutal. I am not an unreasonable person. I agree with you assessment here. A similar description of the U.S. would apply also.

      Humans, all humans are fallible we have that truth apparent here. Suffice to say leadership of some of the planets most powerful countries needs to learn humility, the U.S. being the most needy of the bunch.

      As I have been saying since the onset of the conflict in Ukraine this all should have been handled much differently from 1940’s forward.

      In my opinion errors by U.S. leadership opted for “pie in the sky” decisions that aided in creating unrealistic expectations for Israels future and made the same errors for the U.S. and the remainder of the world.

      I believe the continued policies enforced in the U.S. with respect to aiding Israel and the remainder of U.S. foreign policy has done little but compound the initial error.

      With more respect than you might believe I have for you I’m agreeing with you 100%. As human we don’t have to agree but without respect of the other we all are lost.

      Thanks CN.

  4. J Anthony
    October 10, 2023 at 07:12

    It goes without saying the perpetual killing and loss-of-life is regrettable and awful. Most of the world wants peace and diplomacy, but what we get is endless war and destruction. Israel needs to take accountability for it’s own blow-back. The Hamas fighters must realize the huge risk they took and that as a result, may have sacrificed the entire region’s inhabitants. This sadly may be the only way the world awakens from it’s complacency and finally holds the US/Israel imperial partnership accountable for fanning the flames of a third global war. No doubt the propaganda will be thick and the denial strong, though I don’t see how it can be denied plausibly any longer. More and more people over the last several years have become aware of the lopsided situation over there, the hypocrisy being spewed out of US and Israeli officials and their media networks. It makes me sick to my stomach when I think of those being indiscriminately slaughtered right now as I write this, and how our government is is and has been supporting slow-genocide for so long. How much more will the complacent US citizenry take? It seems the only thing that will ever move our own populace enough to act is when we start getting bombed here at home.

  5. Stephen Sivonda
    October 10, 2023 at 00:57

    Many don’t know that Israel has a strong presence here in the United States . It’s the A.I.P.A.C. or American-Israeli political Action Committee. You can draw your own conclusions as to why we give them billions of dollars every year…..

    • Carolyn Zaremba
      October 10, 2023 at 04:17

      AIPAC is a well-known organization in the U.S. and has an outsized amount of influence in Washington circles and always has. They have put a lot of energy into trying to make it a criminal offense to criticize the state of Israel. They want to make it possible for companies to fire employees who do not comply.

      • vinnieoh
        October 10, 2023 at 10:12

        I found it somewhat more than curious that Cory Booker happened to be in Israel when this began, while the senior Senator from NJ, the foremost AIPAC operative in US gov’t., is on the cusp of getting booted out. Or is that just wishful thinking?

        Booker – just another phony.

  6. Kieren Ladner
    October 9, 2023 at 22:29

    It gives me a great sense of relief to finally read something other than “Why did this happen?” articles, or implicit and explicit support for the State of Israel. “Why did this happen?”pieces seem to leave a lot of history out of their analyses, as if the strike into Israel came out of nowhere, with no justification.

    These horrors have to be described directly and accurately to offset the media biases. Thank you for filling this need,

  7. Rubicon
    October 9, 2023 at 19:00

    We can not associate Israel to Colonel Rulers of the past.

    If there was NO US and its hegemonic $$ System/ military, the foundation of Israel would never have succeeded because multiple millions of Arabs would have long since destroyed little Israel.

  8. Carolyn/Cookie out west
    October 9, 2023 at 18:19

    I am an Oblate (like an affiliate) with a Catholic monastic community. And over the decades I have supported Palestinian liberation …
    And a friend with a Jewish psychiatrist who as a young man in WW II served as a medic and helped liberate a death camp in Polland.
    Why didn’t the U.S. and Allies pressure Germany to return property, land, jobs to the Jewish people who escaped the Holocaust?
    In the prayer network of the monastic group, this came recently from a Catholic monk . . . Prayers for peace in the Middle East
    and peace in the proxy war of U.S. agst Russia in Ukraine. ….I am not giving the name of the monk or family to honor their privacy:
    Please remember in your prayers my “Israeli family,” the …….

    I just found out that their daughter, Tamar, and son-in-law were killed this morning in their home at Kibbutz Holit, near the Gaza border.

    Their “safe room” was breached and their son-in-law was killed while covering their son with his own body to protect him. The boy has just come out of surgery to remove a bullet from his abdomen.

    Ironically, they had sent all their kids to a joint Arab/Jewish school in Beersheva, believing that knowing “the other” was the only path to genuine coexistence.

    May “He who created peace in his celestial heights, may he create peace for us and for all …. ‘Amen.'”

  9. mary-lou
    October 9, 2023 at 17:57

    “The terror Israel inflicts is the terror it will get” << but at what cost :-((

    • Vera Gottlieb
      October 10, 2023 at 04:22

      You reap as you sow…

      • Ed
        October 11, 2023 at 14:20

        “and in the end, the hate you take is equal to the hate you make”

  10. Lois Gagnon
    October 9, 2023 at 17:32

    Those who control the reigns of power never seem to learn that repression eventually leads to revolt and the ultimate demise of the powerful. Not before much blood is shed in the resistance of course. Why are we not able to overcome this never ending repetition of the same old struggle? Humanity needs to reject its inherited indoctrination of the need to dominate others for profit if it is to survive. We are at the crossroads of survive or perish. May we choose wisely.

    Free Palestine!

    • mary-lou
      October 9, 2023 at 18:31

      An Israeli lawmaker told Al Jazeera on Saturday that his party had been warning that Israeli policies toward Palestinians would “erupt” into the violence that Israel is experiencing in the wake of Hamas’ assault – hxxps://

      • Daniel Guyot
        October 10, 2023 at 03:39

        That is absolutely right. But it is presently impossible to express that in the French media, you would be immediately qualified as antisemitic, and it takes some courage to write such an article and express such views. I am not antisemitic, I don’t justify in any way the crimes committed by Hamas, I find them disgusting, they require an adequate answer, but I see them as a predictable consequence of the policy conducted by the government of Israel who for many years considered the Palestinian problem as solved and even not existing any longer and put it – as we say in French – « sous le tapis », i.e. under the rug. Military response is probably necessary, but it is certainly useless if a political settlement is further on ignored.

  11. Drew Hunkins
    October 9, 2023 at 17:21

    None, absolutely none of this sickening lawlessness and brutality emanating from the weird and sadistic artificial state of Israel could happen if it weren’t for the American taxpayer handing these arrogant yet cowardly bandits at least $5 billion each year for several decades now.

    Every single spoiled Israeli citizen has “Medicare-for-All” or national single-payer universal healthcare coverage. The American taxpayer foots the entire bill. Meanwhile here in the U.S. we have people committing suicide or filing for bankruptcy due to out-of-control medical bills; we have American citizens dying bc they can’t afford certain health treatments or medications.


    • Piotr Berman
      October 9, 2023 at 21:12

      I think the fact that Israel has a single-payer healthcare is a normal aspect of the country that does not make citizens “spoiled”. Giving free reign to corporations to increases prices of medications, tests and other services is unique American peculiarity, even in counties that de-regulate healthcare under American influence do not go to American extremes. I almost advocate this slogan:

      “If you stand with Israel, organize healthcare like Israel.”

      • Drew Hunkins
        October 10, 2023 at 10:15

        They are indeed spoiled bc many of them are arrogant racists and the entire Israeli supremacist healthcare system is paid for by the hardworking U.S. taxpayer.

        Don’t drop apologetics here for that disgusting apartheid state that’s imprisoning thousands of infants and toddlers in the Gaza concentration camp.

      • robert e williamson jr
        October 10, 2023 at 16:54

        I’ll say this again. If I don’t trust my government to do the “right thing”, I’ll play hell ever standing with Israel. A government that cannot bring itself to reflect on it’s own true nature, mush like that of the U.S.

        The U.S. Government gives Israel so much money they have money to burn and burn it they do.

        Yet you deny the realities of the U.S., Israeli relationship. I figure the settlers there like the free ride, free lunch and new housing. Who wouldn’t.

        The undisputed fact remains that the U.S. government kowtows to the brutal right wing government of Israel at every turn. A government that has leadership conducting itself much as spoiled child. In doing so the U.S. government commits to the self inflicted wounds of backing Israel that much like this government commits itself to having no accountability what so ever to it’s people.

        I advocate telling the truth and peace, in my opinion Israel revels in lies and war. As an American citizen it is my view the U.S. government has created a monster, a nuclear monster at that.

        In closing let me assure you I will have no part of your mystical babbling. If you are insulted so be it, you should learn to never bring religion into a political argument. Using your beliefs here for reinforcement of you argument have no bearing on my reality.

        Thanks CN

    • Carolyn Zaremba
      October 10, 2023 at 04:19

      Thank you. I agree. That goes for Ukraine as well, of course.

      • robert e williamson jr
        October 12, 2023 at 10:09

        Of course I agree with your statement.

        In addition I might ad that no other class of people on the earth are spoiled more than the “have” American, in fact it’s so bad in the U.S. that many of the “have nots” are seek to mimic the haves to make themselves feel better.

        Thanks CN

  12. Jeff Harrison
    October 9, 2023 at 17:13

    “The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it.”

    I believe that this quotation is totally apropos especially when you realize who said it. But I leave the identity of the speaker as an exercise for the reader.

    • robert e williamson jr
      October 9, 2023 at 18:26

      It is amazing to me that in this instance you apply this quote. Brilliant.

      Bizarre as it seems this statement by this person reveals the surrealism of the totalitarian mentality, hysterical thought and the hysterical fears that state imparts on it’s victims.

      Suffice to say that in this case those fears manifest themselves in grossly unrealistic expectations and irrational gross misconduct that becomes erroneous justification of the Zionist mindset.

      I’m not sure if you had this in mind, however it seems the perfect fit!

    • Valerie
      October 10, 2023 at 03:28

      Well Jeff. I didn’t exercise my brain too much with that; i cheated and looked it up. Yes. It fits perfectly.

    • Carolyn Zaremba
      October 10, 2023 at 04:21

      Thanks for nothing.

      • robert e williamson jr
        October 10, 2023 at 11:42

        Carolyn this exercise is very simple. Before I wrote my comment above I checked the source to make sure myself.

        I had an early interest in the person and have done a fair share of reading about them. My hesitation to name the person is out of respect for Jeff’s effort here to stimulate interest.

        No need to take things so personally, Google the quote or have someone do it for you. Then think about what I wrote, transcend and overcome.

        These are very trying times my friend and you are not alone.

        Thanks CN

        • Jeff Harrison
          October 10, 2023 at 16:40

          Thank you, sir. I wanted people to think. The actual speaker is merely icing on the cake. The thought that came to my mind was if the conditions of the quotation fit does that make you a totalitarian state irrespective of what you call yourself?

    • October 10, 2023 at 11:39

      It is interesting that the author of that quote is becoming increasingly irrelevant as others take his place in history. The quote itself, however, remains forever prescient.

  13. David Patterson
    October 9, 2023 at 16:54

    We Americans need to differentiate Judaism from Israel as they are 2 completely separate things. No decent religious person, or group of supposedly religious people, would do what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians for almost 80 years. Squeezing people into a hellish slum and denying them any way to improve their lives cannot be expected to being peace, and if anyone isn’t thinking peace then they cannot be decent religious people.

    • Piotr Berman
      October 9, 2023 at 21:21

      I beg to differ. Pius Aztecs offered human sacrifice to nourish the Sun that nourishes us all, and to avert the death of the 5th Sun. In the case of Judaism, interpretations differ and as an agnostic, I am not inclined to choose the correct one. Modern Jewish Orthodox religion is highly martial, tribal and vengeful, and can cite a ton of Torah verses to support that view. This is the reigning interpretation in Israel (literally, Israel is partially theocratic). To them, humanistic Judaism is a galut distortion (and in galut, i.e. not in Israel, this school of thought is waning). Agnostic people mold ideologies, religious people mold religions.

    • kladner
      October 9, 2023 at 22:56

      I try to always say “The State of Israel.” I sometimes put “Secular” in front of State to make sure the point gets across.

    • Arthur Kuntsler
      October 9, 2023 at 23:06

      Then what is the meaning of polling data which claims that 95% of Jews are Zionist or otherwise supportive of Israel?


      While that may be a flawed estimate, I doubt it is off by a significant amount if it is in fact wrong.

      • Carolyn Zaremba
        October 10, 2023 at 04:24

        None of the Jewish people I know support Zionists, and in fact are offended if accused of doing so. Zionism is an extremist sect of fanatics like the Taliban or the white supremacist Christians in the USA. They do not represent thinking secular Jews.

        • Piotr Berman
          October 10, 2023 at 11:30

          This is a weird argument in any case. Putin is popular, if short of 95%, but advocates of “spending money as a good investment because it reliably kills Russians” say that this popularity shows that Russians are a sick nation that should be fragmented into small pieces (a lot of maps were posted) for the benefit of humanity. Taliban seems to represent the will of Afghans etc. But in the case of Zionism, its popularity among Jews proves that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism and THUS bad. These days, you are an anti-Semite if you wrongly answer the question: is Israel the most adorable state? No quibbling allowed.

          Another weird argument is that Jews are genetically and religiously connected to folks who were promised the Promised Land by a burning bush and exhorted by this weird plant to exterminate the natives (which they mostly did) and enjoy Covenant forever. Which leads to disputes if this genetics is correct etc., while it is irrelevant! Should Welch diaspora throw Anglo-Saxons back to Angle (part of Holstein, I guess) and Saxony? (Dangerous argument because some Welch say “yes”, they want Arturian kingdom back.)

    • Paula
      October 10, 2023 at 15:24

      I do hope there is a great difference between them or I will condemn both.

  14. Cara
    October 9, 2023 at 16:45

    Excellent analysis and commentary. Thank you!

  15. October 9, 2023 at 15:47

    Thank you Chris, I appreciate your insight and non-ideological views, along with our care for our fellow humans who suffer, no matter where in the world.

    • Xpat Paula
      October 10, 2023 at 23:18

      The one sentence in Chris’s article that I find jarring: “The current government of Israel is populated by Jewish extremists, fanatic Zionists and religious bigots who are dismantling Israeli democracy…”

      Despite Israel’s boasts, it cannot be called a “democracy” as long as it’s an apartheid state. One or the other.

  16. Jerry Markatos
    October 9, 2023 at 15:42

    When the worst is being employed, that’s when the wise among us remind us of the best of us and what they have said or are saying now.

  17. October 9, 2023 at 15:17

    Well written, Chris Hedges. You have said everything that I have wanted to say.

  18. Drew Hunkins
    October 9, 2023 at 14:53

    “…The next stage of this struggle will be a massive campaign of industrial slaughter in Gaza by Israel, which has already begun.”

    Of course it will. The sadistic thieving Israelis find the need to “mow the lawn” every 5 years or so. Peace has not worked for the Palestinians, they’re being penned up and slaughtered regardless of whether its armed factions decide to violently revolt.

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