Rather than an army secret, the systems supporting the occupation include such normal institutions as taxation, infrastructure projects, the education system and, of course, army service.
The debate over refuseniks from IDF intelligence unit 8200 unleashed acrimonious debates all week. While I have already observed some of them, here are a few more that stand out.
Carolina Landsmann has one of the most powerful opinion pieces I’ve read in a long time, in Haaretz. It may yet appear in English, but for now the excerpts here are my translation. Like one former member of Unit 8200 who spoke to me, Landsmann says their act of refusal is a statement that intelligence work and the system of occupation are directly linked, cutting into the belief that only those who hold the guns are responsible.
She then takes this insight to its next logical step. In blunt language, she writes that the refuseniks point to a perspective built into Israeli thinking that is
All of Israeli society, writes Landsmann, supports this system. I find this one of the most essential and accurate observations of Israeli reality that is rarely understood.
Rather than an army secret, the systems supporting the occupation include such normal institutions as taxation, infrastructure projects, the education system and, of course, army service. She concludes with disturbing clarity, “No one can say ‘I have no part in it.’”
I don’t believe Landsmann means that all Israelis are evil, and I reject that idea myself. But the fact that all social and political structures of society support the occupation is true and must be internalized. Not in order to blame individuals; to help them know that stopping this means identifying their personal contribution, through whichever social system they belong, and changing it. The refusal letter, she hopes, may be the first steps of this profound mental shift.
Ironically, the far right has said this repeatedly. They argue that settlers are unfairly demonized, when in fact all of Israel, people and government alike, supports settlements.
Once, at a Nakba commemoration event at Tel Aviv University, I spotted far-right Hebron settler leader Baruch Marzel wearing a T-shirt reading “Solidarity: Sheikh Munis,” the original Arabic name of the Palestinian village where the university now stands. For a fleeting instant I wondered if the world had turned upside down. But simultaneously I knew it was mockery, an extension of the...Read More