Mark LeVine in Al Jazeera:
According to David Theo Goldberg, a South African scholar, the example of the defeat of apartheid in his country points to the importance of “de-normalising” the Israeli occupation – showing the world that its actions are not normal, and cannot be justified with claims of self-defence or security.
Instead, Palestinian terrorism, first by the PLO and later by Hamas and other groups, helped to normalise the occupation, enabling the Israeli government to transform an occupation that has always been about settlement into one premised on legitimate security needs.
Rhetoric matters too.
When during the past year Hamas leaders talked proudly of making “death an industry of the Palestinian people” and creating “human shields” composed of old people and children, or declared Jewish children everywhere to have become legitimate targets of murder (as did Hamas commander Mahmoud Zahar in a televised broadcast on January 5), the movement helped normalise the intensifying siege on Gaza, playing into deep-seated Western – and particularly American and Israeli – stereotypes of Muslim irrationality and brutality.
Indeed, such statements have long made it easier for the media, and the public, to ignore or even justify similarly racist or bigoted statements by Israeli leaders.
In this context, once the truce agreed to by Israel and Hamas in June 2008 broke down, the relaunching of Qassam rockets – even if they were in response to an Israeli provocation – normalised Israel’s massive response in the eyes of its citizens, and a large majority of Americans as well.
In this discourse, any ‘normal’ country would feel compelled to respond militarily when thousands of rockets are fired into its territory by an adversary who uses its own children as human shields while threatening to kill one’s children the world over.
That such a narrative avoids the larger context in which the Qassams were fired does not change the role played by the rockets in normalising the occupation.