Israel never surprises me

No one else can understand a Palestinian’s relationship to Israel, and I wouldn’t expect as much. She consumes us, in every sense you can imagine.

As a result, we have an astounding sense of familiarity with her. See, sometimes a victim knows his tormenter better than the tormentor knows herself.  Nothing she does surprises us.

I am not surprised to see Israelis sitting on hills in a city near Gaza, watching the Israeli missiles fall.  One onlooker called it “just good fun.”  Others were eating popcorn, which is not surprising.  If you’re sick enough to be entertained by watching hi-tech missiles fall on an open-air prison in one of the most densely populated places on the planet, it doesn’t really shock me if you bring along some snacks to pass the time.

I am not surprised that the news reporter on the scene also noted that some of the “audience” were smoking hookahs.  I do take some offense to that.  Hookahs belong to us.  But I’m not surprised.  If you’re sick enough to pretend that you didn’t steal another people’s land, it doesn’t really shock me that you can smoke their bongs without a second thought.

I am not surprised when Benjamin Netanyahu calls for revenge on his Twitter feed after the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli Jewish teens in late June.  Predictably, less than two days later, Palestinian teen Muhammad Abu Khdeir was abducted in East Jerusalem as he waited in the early morning hours for prayer outside a mosque in the opening days of Ramadan.  Not unexpectedly, his body was found the next day in a Jerusalem forest.  An autopsy revealed that he was burned alive.  His murderers have been arrested and are pleading insanity.  They will, we expect, spend a nominal amount of time incarcerated before they are deemed sane enough to return to Israeli society.  It’s not going to shock me when they spend less time in jail than a Palestinian who hurls a stone at an Israeli tank.

I am not surprised when Ayelet Shaked advocates calling Palestinians “little snakes.”  Oh, she also advocated the destruction of “elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.” Oh, she is also a member of the Israeli Knesset.  Oh, she is also a member of the ruling coalition of Netanyahu’s government.  Oh, and the prime minister had nothing to say about her call to genocide.  Oh, and her Facebook post calling for all of these things got over 5,100 likes.  If a society is sick enough to elect and promote a fascist into the highest levels of political office, it doesn’t really shock me when her murderous rants are met with nothing.

We Palestinians, unfortunately, are not taken aback by anything that Israel does.

The only thing that has changed in Israel in recent years is that the right-wingers are much more comfortable spewing their hatred than ever before.  This upsets those on the Israeli left.  The leftists are much more accustomed to packaging their revulsion of the Palestinians in a much more acceptable manner.  But it seems they are letting those on the right have their way for now.  Maybe it will work, they think.  After all, they all want the same thing.  This has been known to us for some time.  It’s not too extraordinary to us.

I am not surprised when CNN, America’s moderate and balanced news network, continues to depict the conflict as one between two equal entities.  If viewers didn’t know any better, they might think there is a country called Israel and a country called Palestine and they are fighting each other.  That kind of misinformation and skewed coverage is routine for us.

Finally, I am not surprised when Israel tells the world she is “notifying” residents in Gaza before dropping a bomb on their house.  She says that is “humane.”  I’ve heard it all before.  But if you’re going after Hamas commanders, why even warn them at all? Their wives and kids are fair game anyway.  It’s our fault for living in that place to begin with.

So, we will still be around when this is all over.  And Israel will have bought herself some more time to continue maintaining the status quo.  It’s fine. We’re fine. We’ll get through it.

Being a form of entertaining target practice for a society that wants us exterminated anyway is nothing new.  We’re used to it. Don’t feel bad for us.  It’s normal.

About Amer Zahr 181 Articles
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."


  1. Sighhh.. it is sad that we have reached that point if just accepting and expecting the worst.

    Anyway just a spelling error I thought I point out
    It’s our fault for living in that place to being with.>> assume it’s supposed to read begin with ..

  2. Although I know what you mean when you say nothing israel surprises us, this is exactly what Israel wants. They want us to get used to the situation there, the killing of women and children, the occupatatio, so that nothing surprises us anymore and the status quo continues. We have to be shocked and surprised every time they commit an atrocity. If we’re not surprised and shock at what they do then how do we expect the rest of the world to be.

  3. Your article is right on Amer. I wish that the audiences here in America knew the Palestinians side of the conflict and what daily life is like in Gaza, as well as Palestine! Sadly no, because our news station are pro-America. Being to Palestine now 5 times and going thru the checkpoints, going to Hebron and thru out the West Bank and hearing the stories, my cross gets heavier each time I come home. But, I forge on in my daily life and if opportunities arise I am then able to tell their stories, I am their voice here in America.

  4. Well said. But I disagree with your point of “Not surprised…” anymore. We must get surprised and angry at Israel’s atrocities. Being “numb” to what is happening around you is the same as being indifferent.

  5. I think only books written of Palestinian authors has been able to make me cry and laugh in this bitter manner, and then cry even more, but without tears. Your article gave me once more a reminder of that feeling.

    Here, on the other side of the ocean, journalists and human rights workers are targeted and harassed because they talk public about the things they see in Gaza, as well the west bank.

    It is however funny when CNN is called a moderate and balanced news channel. After Iraq all I could see was CNN propaganda channel.

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