There are times when one picture says it all.
This picture at right shows a terrified Palestinian child between two Israeli soldiers who, from my perspective, are ashamed of what they are doing.
Ponder that picture a few moments and then ask yourself, “Does Israel have a right to exist”? It is the wrong question. It is actually a “trick question” intended to deceive.
Yousef Munayyer, Executive Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, wrote an article in the liberal Jewish publication, Forward, which exposes “right to exist” as a trick question, a tactic designed to evade the political reality of Israel’s immoral and corrupting occupation of Palestinians.
Any occupation, by definition, is corrupting to everyone involved. It is corrupting to the occupied and to the occupiers. It is also corrupting to those who look at what is happening and pass by on the other side of the road.
I have had the “trick question” hurled at me for almost half a century. It is universally employed by occupation apologists. It is a question which serves as a mental wall to hide the immorality of Israeli military control, which is not a defense force but a conquering force.
Up close, it is an ugly and heart-breaking sight.
On one of my 20 reporting trips to the Middle East, I needed to travel to Lebanon when Israel was involved in one of its armed conflicts with Lebanon. I signed in as a journalist with the IDF press office outside Jerusalem.
We traveled through Palestinian villages in an IDF jeep, heading north. The two soldiers escorting me took note of children along the way who had tossed a Palestinian banner on a wire and were eager to throw stones at our jeep.
One soldier muttered, “we’ll take that one down on the way back”. I felt degraded for the two soldiers. They should have been home in Tel Aviv with their own children. Instead, they were escorting an American journalist who witnessed children mocking them.
When I told the story of that trip to readers, Israeli-backers fired back with the inevitable trick question, “Does Israel have a right to exist?” I wish I had known then to dismiss the question as a trick.
Well-protected behind the wall that trick question has built, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a national election in December, motivated, the Guardian alleges, to delay pending legal action against him. Israel’s voters will have an opportunity to change course from a government that makes the IDF and children pawns in Netanyahu’s obvious plan to conquering all of Palestine.
Is Israel’s current government acting like a democracy concerned about the well-being of its own citizens and the well-being of Palestinians living under its military control?
Look at the record.
The Guardian writes:
According to the United Nations, Palestinians – many of them children – were killed at the rate of around one a day while taking part in protests along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza about their right to return to ancestral homes. They included medics and journalists. Most of the dead were unarmed and posed no danger to anyone, with little more than rocks in their hands and slogans on their lips.
Yet Israel continued with an immoral and unlawful policy that sees soldiers of its military, which is under democratic civilian control, teargas, shoot and kill protesters, including those who pose no credible threat.
Hospitals in Gaza, which already struggle under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, have been stretched to breaking point in dealing with the flood of patients ferried in from the protests.
The Guardian recalls a phrase from the late Amos Oz, the Israeli novelist who was a loyal Zionist with a conscience.
The novelist Amos Oz’ words that “even unavoidable occupation is a corrupting occupation” have been ignored for too long. Netanyahu’s nearest rival [in the upcoming election] brags that he sent parts of Gaza “back to the stone age” when in the military.
Netanyahu would dismiss Oz’s warnings; but perhaps he ought to take heed of the recent spat between the historian Benny Morris and the Ha’aretz writer Gideon Levy.
Benny Morris is the historian who “lifted the veil” on the ethnic cleanings on which Israel was founded, but then drifted to the right to say that these heinous crimes did not go far enough. Gideon Levy is the left-leaning Ha’aretz columnist. They differ on much but agree that “the two-state solution is a fading prospect”.
[Meanwhile] Netanyahu lulls the public with the notion that a two-state solution will wait until Israel deems the conditions to be ripe. He hints that new friends in Washington, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi will come up with a proposal the Palestinians will swallow.
This is pure cynicism. There is no new plan – just a rebranding of the status quo, maintained by force by Israel, and with Palestinians within and without Israel’s borders subjugated and dependent. Israelis must turn away from the occupation, which is debasing their society and suffocating the Palestinians.
Israel’s “right to exist” trick question, is a high wall built around the minds of those who are easily distracted away from Israel’s evil occupation.
It is time to say, “tear down that wall”. Let children grow up in peace and let the IDF soldiers go home to their own children.
The picture above of two Israeli soldiers and one small Palestinian boy appeared in the Jerusalem Post.