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The soldiers' stories that Israel lacks the courage to hear

Testimonies from former Israeli soldiers have failed to touch the Israeli public or change the state’s policies.  The IDF gives an ‘explanation’ for why it ignores these and all  other occupation stories told by the men and women of Breaking the Silence.

I used to think that Breaking the Silence, which publishes testimonies of IDF soldiers about what they see and do on occupation duty, would really strike a blow against the empire. Who could doubt the word of soldiers – by now over 900 – coming forward to, essentially, confess; who wouldn’t at least show them respect and give them a hearing?

Once again, I was naïve; Breaking the Silence, God bless it, is keeping the truth alive. It’s telling that truth to masses of individuals, most importantly to draft-age Israelis. But the horror stories from the field told by the soldiers – this week by four young women who served in the West Bank and on the Gazan border – just slide off the back of this country’s body politic. They don’t make the slightest dent in Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza.

In 2009, after the organization published over 100 pages of testimony (PDF) from 26 soldiers about what happened in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead – the free-fire atmosphere, the awesome destruction, the bloodthirsty pep talks from IDF rabbis, the white phosphorus, etc. – Netanyahu expressed his opinion of its work. From Haaretz:

They are breaking their silence about the only democracy in the Middle East that has an independent legal system and an investigative press that does not cease dealing with these issues,” Netanyahu told reporters shortly after his meeting Tuesday with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose government is one of the group’s donors.

“There is no silence to break,” the prime minister said angrily. “What are they talking about?”

Netanyahu, NGO Monitor, Im Tirtzu, CAMERA and the entire right-wing enforcement squad did a very good job of distracting mainstream Israel’s attention from the soldiers’ stories by railing about Breaking the Silence’s subversive sources of funding, such as the New Israel Fund and the European Union.

It was very effective; like B’Tselem and all other anti-occupation NGOs, Breaking the Silence is considered by the Israeli mainstream to be radical, anti-Israel and full of lies. And so Israeli society, which once was interested in these testimonies, even if just to denounce them, has by now simply tuned them out.

Back in 2009, I still had enough faith in the IDF to expect it to at least pretend to be concerned about the testimonies from Operation Cast Lead. I called the IDF Spokesman’s Office and asked for a response. “How do you know they’re true?” one of the spokesmen shot back, noting that the soldiers didn’t give their names, so the army couldn’t check the veracity of their accounts.

In the last year and a half, dozens of soldiers who’ve told their stories to Breaking the Silence have given their names – “to defuse the ‘anonymous’ argument,” Yehuda Shaul, one of the group’s co-founders, told me. “The IDF said this was commendable, that they would check the stories. They haven’t checked anything.”

In this week’s videos, three of the women – Noa Hillel, Tal Wasser and Yael Lotan – give their full names while one, Inbar, gives only her first name (but the IDF can, of course, find her, too). Here’s Inbar, an ex-officer at the Erez crossing point at the border with Gaza, telling the story of a Palestinian boy who was discovered late one night walking around by himself, crying:

I asked for the army’s response to these latest accounts, and whether the army had checked out the testimonies to Breaking the Silence by any of the dozens of soldiers who’d publicized their names in previous reports. The email response read:

The decision of an organization not to allow the IDF to respond to allegations prior to their publication is improper. This organization has been informed countless times that it is free to submit its testimony and investigative material to law enforcement authorities, thus to enable a professional investigation, but, as stated, the organization chooses not to do this, but rather to give the media a pile of information without letting the IDF examine and investigate it properly.

In other words, now that Breaking the Silence (the IDF couldn’t bring itself to even mention the name) is identifying its whistle-blowers, the army had to invent a new excuse for ignoring their accounts: because it didn’t see them before they were published. Whatever. And about the invitation to Breaking the Silence to give its material to “law enforcement authorities,” I thought that when it comes to the conduct of its soldiers, the IDF was the law enforcement authority. They really expect people to believe this shit? (On second thought, the overwhelming majority of Israelis do.)

Yehuda Shaul says that in its tours and lectures, Breaking the Silence tells the story of the occupation to about 10,000 people a year – including, with the IDF’s permission, to the occasional class of IDF soldiers. It takes testimony from about 100 additional soldiers a year. Its reports and videos get a lot of attention – just not from the powers-that-be in Israel or America, or from the mainstream Israeli public, who have immunized themselves to the truth about what this country does to Palestinians.

The soldiers in Breaking the Silence are, to borrow a phrase from the first president Bush, “a thousand points of light” in the Israeli darkness. But the darkness is so thick and vast; dispelling it will take more than truth.

Related:
WATCH: Former female Israeli soldiers break their silence 

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Joel

      @Larry

      I knew that sooner or later you’d chime in.
      More filler, content, just to stay relevant.

      Reply to Comment
    2. kate

      my experience on the ‘internets’ is that Israeli’s are very well aware of this stuff, most of them have served themselves, they for the most part either openly condone it, or blow it off as ‘what we have to do to survive’it’s just the way thing are or have to be they make us do this, but actual concern is rare, the occupation has become part of the ‘Israeli experience’, just normal day to day life

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >the occupation has become part of the ‘Israeli experience’, just normal day to day life

        Given than from Palestinian Arab point of view the occupation has begun in 1948, and could only be ended with the destruction of Israel, there is not much choice left, is there?

        Reply to Comment
    3. Danaa

      Larry is right to shine light on the seeming indifference of israelis – as a society – their deliberate and methodical failure to come to grips with what the occupation does and what it really is. For the most part, israelis know all too well. They just don’t want to – and perhaps can’t – process the implications.

      Larry also correctly points out also that while the israelis remain enconced in their bubble of “whatever”, the rest of the world does hear and many more process what’s going on every day. May be telling it to 10,000 people every year does not sound like much. But there are many more who read about it and disseminate it wider still. Every year the bubble of Israel becomes tinier as the shock waves its behavior sends reach ever wider, touching more and more people.

      At the same time, the larger the shocvk waves the harder those Israelis in the core of the bubble have become. This “hardening”‘ which is obvious to anyone who lives there or visits while keeping open eyes and mind. That hardness spread to many areas that have nothing to do with palestine, and is manifested most clearly in coarsening of every day behavior. The hardness is quite noticeable in individuals – young and all – whenever they stray outside the country. It is projected as a not altogether appealing mixture of guilt, suspicion and and a hint of smarting – what once may have appeared as fetching bravura, a Chutzpa, now carries more than a whiff of arrogance and defensiveness. Yes, the average israeli is convinced that the world is against them anyways. But they don’t – and can’t deny – that the positive impressions of the country are at near freezing levels (other than America, of course, but attitudes in America is a complicated thing to gauge).

      Little by little breaking the Silence and other organizations like them are getting the message out there. That’s where the change in attitude IS happening. Even for those who manage to hide deep inside the bubble, the growing revulsion out there should be something to at least consider, if not process, should they care to look.

      Reply to Comment
      • Joel

        The ‘indifference’ and the ‘bubble’ is on the part of the anti-Zionist crowd who ignore the 93,000 deaths in Syria, the ongoing plight if Syrian refugees and the World War I like alignment of opposing axis.

        Really.

        Reply to Comment
        • John Salisbury

          If you want to compare yourself to Syria

          Reply to Comment
    4. Y-Man

      Great point. The Palestinians deserve decades of military occupation, brutality and illegal land theft because some of them called Jews bad words. No self-delusional rationalization here, folks.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        No, silly.

        Palestinian Arab deserve decades of military occupation, brutality and illegal land theft because most of them would happily slaughter any available Jews. In the name of Allah, of course.

        Reply to Comment
      • Shmuel

        Great point (sarcasm) to the best of my knowledge the hatred and violence by the Arabs did not start in 1967. It started way before that. Way before there was “occupation”. But don’t let that minor detail worry you Y-Man.

        Question:
        What caused the massacre of Hebron’s Jews in 1929? After all, Israel did not even exist in 1929.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Jan

      Ken, if you really believe that Israel wants a Palestinian state then I have several bridges to sell you. What Israel wants is all the land and they are willing to take their time going about it.

      I guess you haven’t read the Likud charter which states that there will never be a Palestinian state between the river and the sea. I guess you did not read Danny Danon’s latest statement in which he said that the Knesset would never approve of a Palestinian state.

      Israel has shown to the world that it has no interest in a Palestinian state. The building of all the illegal settlements and bypass roads have chopped up the West Bank into something that looks like a teenager’s face with a bad case of acne. There is no possibility for a Palestinian state and Israel has ensured that will not ever happen.

      So all that is left is the completion of the ethnic cleansing that began in 1948, full fledged apartheid or a one secular state for both Jews and Palestinians. Which one do you choose or should I ask because I am afraid that I know your answer.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        >…Israel wants a Palestinian state

        No one wants or needs Palestinian state. And never wanted or needed. Not Jews, not Arabs, not in 1919, not in 1948 nor in 1967. No one. Never.

        >What Israel wants is all the land and they are willing to take their time going about it.

        Obviously. Any “Palestinian” state is bound to fail, for numerous reasons.

        >I guess you haven’t read the Likud charter which states that there will never be a Palestinian state between the river and the sea.

        Likud charter is of no concern.

        >I guess you did not read Danny Danon’s latest statement in which he said that the Knesset would never approve of a Palestinian state.

        Who the hell is Danny Danon and why should anyone care about what he is saying?

        >Israel has shown to the world that it has no interest in a Palestinian state.

        That is because no rational person in sane mind might be interested in such state.

        >There is no possibility for a Palestinian state and Israel has ensured that will not ever happen.

        There is no possibility for such state from the very beginning, which is why Palestinian Arabs always sought to be a part of larger Arab state. Syria, Jordan, Egypt – does not matter.

        >So all that is left is the completion of the ethnic cleansing that began in 1948, full fledged apartheid or a one secular state for both Jews and Palestinians.

        Rather stupid options. A perfect display of how little you actually understand.

        Reply to Comment
        • Jan

          So Trespasser since you don’t like the options I laid out what is your end game?

          BTW, there is absolutly no evidence that the Palestinians wanted to be part of a larger Arab country.

          For your information Danny Danon is a rising star in the Likud party. He is currently a member of the Knesset and serves as the Deputy Minister of Defence. What he says reflects the opinion of many right wingers in the Israeli government so people should pay attention to what comes out of his mouth.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >So Trespasser since you don’t like the options I laid out…

            It is not that I don’t like these options – they are not realistic, that’s all.

            1 – Ethnic cleansing would not be possible in this region – if performed by Jews of course. Arabs are free to cleanse and massacre as they please.

            2 – Full-fledged apartheid would make current Palestinian leadership too unhappy. Besides, you are forgetting about Gaza.

            3 – Muslims can’t be made to live in a secular state. Even Turkey, which has secularism enshrined in it’s constitution is turning to be more and more Islamic.

            >what is your end game?

            Oh, that’s the problem – there is no end game which would suite all sides.

            For Arabs the only possible end game is Judenfrei Palestine – end of occupation which started in 1948.

            Obviously, it would never take place, but Arabs do think that it is possible to make “European” Jews get back to their countries, so they would never agree to any peace proposal which include existence of any kind of “Jewish Homeland”. They had refused in 1919 and nothing suggests that they would accept it in 2019.

            Apparently, Israeli government is trying to create conditions where statehood could be imposed in controlled environment, after which it would be only matter of time – 50 to 100 years – for Arabs to reconcile with the reality of Jewish homeland in Palestine.

            >BTW, there is absolutely no evidence that the Palestinians wanted to be part of a larger Arab country.

            Oh, there is.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine_Arab_Congress#First_Congress_-_Jerusalem_1919
            -Palestine part of Arab Syria

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine_Arab_Congress#Third_Congress_-_Haifa_1920
            -called for Palestine to be part of the independent Arab State promised in the MacMahon Correspondence. Calls for unity with Syria were dropped because it was recognised that the area was now under French control.

            In 1950s-1960s population of WB and Gaza were granted Jordanian and Egyptian citizenship – without any kind of opposition at all.

            Palestinian National Charter of 1964 states:

            Article 1. Palestine is an Arab homeland bound by strong Arab national ties to the rest of the Arab Countries and which together form the great Arab homeland.

            Article 3: The Palestinian Arab people has the legitimate right to its homeland and isan inseparable part of the Arab Nation. It shares the sufferings and aspirations of the Arab Nation and its struggle for freedom, sovereignty, progress and unity.

            Et cetera, et cetera.

            Basically, until 1988 there was no calls for an independent Palestinian Arab state since it was obvious to anyone that such state could not be viable. In 1980′s the situation has changed, however – much of Palestine was under Jewish control and Arabs would not possibly accept that.

            >For your information Danny Danon is a rising star in the Likud party. He is currently a member of the Knesset and serves as the Deputy Minister of Defence. What he says reflects the opinion of many right wingers in the Israeli government so people should pay attention to what comes out of his mouth.

            I really don’t give a flying duck about what this or that member of a party have to say since there is no guarantee that this given party would stay in power for any considerable period of time.

            “Many right-wingers in Israeli government” is not the same as “many Israelis” and is not the same as “UNSC”, you know.

            Reply to Comment
    6. Eric

      This article is a collection of half truths.
      Most Israelis and IDF soldiers have no interest in hurting or offending any Palestinians. If Israel hands over the WB then over night the WB will be controlled by the Hamas or some other totalitarian regime just like in the gaza strip.
      The Israelis and the Palestinians will suffer. The Arab world is unfortunately not successful in governing a free society. All those that call for a PA state in the WB are just plain naive. It doesn’t work. Arabs residing in Israel and East Jerusalem are opposed to moving to a future PA state – Shouldn’t that be enough to tell us all that a PA state would be bad for all. The best of all solutions is the status quo where the PA runs the civil issues in area B and A and the IDF controls the security.

      Reply to Comment
      • Danaa

        Actually, may be Palestinians don’t want to move to a [hypothetical] palestinian state because they don’t want to move?

        May be for the same reasons the young people of Tel Aviv who are demonstrating for “social justice” don’t have any desire to live in the settlement of ariel or form a new settlement on the Jordan river? they could, you know – lots of house for the money – bingo – no more social injustice. they might even get a pool full of stolen water – really low price. on top of it, why – they get to live in the truly historic land of Judea rather than in the land of Canaan. So, why don’t they want to move? really…the world is just full of puzzles.

        May be the palestinian_israelis are fine just where they are and feel that the country of israel belongs to them as much as it belongs to you. BTW, many Arabic israeli villages and towns actually would welcome jewish people to move there. May be you should try that since you seem to be a believer in the power of moving?

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          You’ve written a bunch of nonsense there, I’ll address only one issue.

          >BTW, many Arabic israeli villages and towns actually would welcome jewish people to move there.

          They might – theoretically – welcome some Jews to move there, but they would not allow their women to date Jewish men.

          Reply to Comment
        • Danaa

          Actually, that nonsense, tresspasser. Many Arab women make their own choices nowadays – may be you should look into it sometime?

          Actually, it is far more likely the so-called jewish family that would be appalled if their son/daughter dated an Arab. But then an orthodox family wouldn’t be very happy to see their daughter date a secular man, would they? israel is a cliquish country – everyone wants and tries to stay in their own bubble. It’s just that the bubbles are getting ever further apart from each other.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Actually, that nonsense, tresspasser.

            I’m truly sorry but that is not. It’s either you have problems with understanding written or are not honest enough to admit your own fallacy. It might also be that my English is not good enough, but chances are slim.

            >Many Arab women make their own choices nowadays – may be you should look into it sometime?

            1 – Many – how many? 5 every year? 10? 15?
            2 – We were not discussing life of Arab women in large cities where they can do as they please, but the theoretical “welcome to coexist” in Arab villages.

            >Actually, it is far more likely the so-called jewish family that would be appalled if their son/daughter dated an Arab.

            More nonsense.
            1 – Arab men have no problem of any kind to date/marry non-Arab women
            2 – Arab women, at other hand, might find very gruesome end if dare to date a non-Arab man. Even you must have heard about the honor killings.
            3 – Given the lack of avalable Arab women, it is not possible to draw any conclusions of whether “so-called” Jewish family would or would not be happy to accept an Arab girl as their new relative.

            >But then an orthodox family wouldn’t be very happy to see their daughter date a secular man, would they?

            There is a dfference between being not happy and killing their own daughter.

            >israel is a cliquish country – everyone wants and tries to stay in their own bubble. It’s just that the bubbles are getting ever further apart from each other.

            And yet more nonsense. Bubbles are existing mostly for religious Jews and religious Arabs, but hardly for secular population of the country.

            Reply to Comment
    7. Rachamim Dwek

      Since 1967 nearly 2.4 million Israelis have served in the so called “West Bank” and Gaza and that is merely counting those who served in the IDF. MAGAV, SHAI, GSS and other security forces undoubtedly bring that total well over 3 million. Yet Mr. Derfner believes that 1,000-odd people, the vast majority anonymous, should be given more weight than the millions of others who never saw any abuse. I realise that most “Progressives” are so wrapped in their ideological blanket to the point that they can only see down a very narrow corridor but Mr. Derfner would be well advised to take a few moment before mounting his battered soapbox and ask himself why a number of claims not even equaling 1/100th of 1% should be given so much creedence. If their testimonies hold so much weight because they served in the IDF, what about the millions of others who call “bullshi*” on those allegations?

      And really, what WERE these allegations that have pissed off Mr. Derfner to no end? Detainees were cuffed and hooded, detainees sat on cold ground, 8 years ago some 18 year old soldier PRETENDED to rip a work permit. Wow. Out of all of them, only Ms. Hillel made actual allegations of abuse, saying that cigarettes were stubbed out on prisoners. She would have been 1 of 45,000 IDF soldiers who served in Hebron District in a given year. We should give her allegations more weight than the other 49,999? Why didn’t she report it? Yet we are supposed to pay attention and according to Mr. Derfner, we should rise up in anger at the IDF and Israel in general.

      On a more optimistic note, now that there are names behind allegations any real abuse should be easy to ferret out. The IDF has its share of miscreants and degenerates just as any other cross section of society would have. However, there is no institutional policy OR pattern of abusive behavior. Complaints are taken extremely seriously when not sourced from a partisan organisation trafficking in anonymous mud slinging. Let Ms. Hillel go to the IDF and discuss what she claims to have been par for the course behavior- as opposed to assisting in a partisan campaign. Until she- or others do so- Mr. Derfner shouldn’t expect most Israelis to care at all.

      Reply to Comment
      • Mr. Dwek, you have grossly misrepresented the statements of those soldiers. Every single one reported a pattern of physical and psychological abuse. And your claim that everyone who isn’t a whistle-blower thinks the whistle-blowers are lying – well, what can I say? In my brief army service, I saw two cases of clear abuse – one I didn’t report, one I reported to my commanding officer, who did nothing, and I didn’t take it any further. I never gave testimony to Breaking the Silence. In your book, that would make me one of the “millions who call bullshit” on Breaking the Silence. Go on believing it.

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          The whole “breaking the silence” activity is rather hostile towards IDF and Israel because it does not cover cases where Israelis did good, which are much more numerous. During my military service, for instance, I had never encountered any brutality towards Palestinias, but rather a lot of friendly attitude. I was before 2nd Intifada tho.

          Well, I do realize that stories where Israelis are doing good are much more difficult to sell.

          Reply to Comment
          • There are true stories of soldiers helping out their victims in all cases of tyranny, but they are incidental to the main story, which is the inherent abusiveness of the whole situation, which in turn ensures continual acts of outright brutality.

            Reply to Comment
          • Indeed, the abuse is structural, and is absolved by structural means: the inherent conflict among races. I know Larry thinks Two States the only viable solution, but the logic of occupation, including the excusing and silencing of harm, or exchanging such harm for that endured by the righteous enforcer, relentlessly leads to the cul-de-sac of a single apartheid State. When the zero sum logic of war is applied, apartheid can be framed as a humane solution.

            Reply to Comment
    8. [...] On Breaking The Silence website, the video catalog number is 74845, place: Erez crossing. The soldiers? stories that Israel lacks the courage to hear | +972 Magazine [...]

      Reply to Comment
    9. “That should be enough space for you and all your camels and goats.” You’re banned, Ken Kelso – go jerk off at Goldstein’s grave.

      Reply to Comment
    10. I see no comments on the suppressed report of child abuse (ordered by the woman’s superior). The incident reported is not a real fire situation; it was pure, luxurious child abuse. Both the assaliant and the officer ordering the false report should be prosecuted. Unless race warfare protects such acts as well.

      Reply to Comment
    11. [...] The soldiers’ stories that Israel lacks the courage to hear / Larry Derfner 972mag 11 June – Testimonies from former Israeli soldiers have failed to touch the Israeli public or change the state’s policies.  The IDF gives an ‘explanation’ for why it ignores these and all  other occupation stories told by the men and women of Breaking the Silence. I used to think that Breaking the Silence, which publishes testimonies of IDF soldiers about what they see and do on occupation duty, would really strike a blow against the empire. Who could doubt the word of soldiers — by now over 900 — coming forward to, essentially, confess; who wouldn’t at least show them respect and give them a hearing?  Once again, I was naïve; Breaking the Silence, God bless it, is keeping the truth alive. It’s telling that truth to masses of individuals, most importantly to draft-age Israelis. But the horror stories from the field told by the soldiers — this week by four young women who served in the West Bank and on the Gazan border — just slide off the back of this country’s body politic. They don’t make the slightest dent in Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza. link to 972mag.com [...]

      Reply to Comment
    12. Noevil9

      Larry, The Israelis lack of action from hearing the stories of soldiers does not stricke my as fear of acknowledgement to what has been taken place against the Palestinians for the last 46 years or so. Most Israelis know and do cover up, as it will be treason to the nation ,as they have been brought up to believe. We are against the world. The overal sentiment toward the Palestinians , occupation and human right abuses by the IDF or the whole state of Israel, is becoming more acceptable to the population day by day. There are still those humanitarian /leftests whom will speak out every once in a while, but as the Gov. Is more leaning to the right, and more extremists parties are gaining seats in the Kennest, the others are becoming more marginalized by design. I thing the European Jewish Guetho mentality is prevailing in the Israeli mentality,Government and society. The Palestinians do not count, then crimes against them do not count neither . We have the walls, the world does not count ,as long as we have America do our dirty work.

      Reply to Comment
      • John Salisbury

        And label all criticism as anti-semitism.

        Reply to Comment
    13. Shmuel

      Ok Larry I buy it. I buy the criticism of the left when individuals in the IDF do wrong and mistreat Palestinian Arabs. I agree that all of us have to do our best to stomp out human rights abuses otherwise we will end up with a type of society that most of us won’t like. I buy all that …

      What I don’t buy from the left is why do you guys fall over backwards to try and invert reality. Why do you do your darnest to make it appear that the hate and abuse originate from Israeli Jews and that the Palestinian Arabs are just reacting to that hate with their own hatred and abuse of innocent Israelis.

      The fact is that any non biased historian will tell you without hesitation that the Arabs were the ones who started this cycle of hatred and violence and the Jews reacted to it. Thats what what I can’t forgive you leftists for. Some of you just pretend that it is ALL the fault of the Jews by not talking about Arab hatred and abuse. Some of you openly lie about it.

      Which one are you Larry? Where do you stand on all this? Surely, ultimately you too have Israel’s interest at heart? I actually sense that you do but your one sided criticisms of Israel alone, without giving context, baffles me.

      PS
      I am not trying to offend you so please don’t respond with a knee jerk reaction of banning me. I am genuinely baffled by this phenomenon and I really would like to have a respectful discussion about it.

      Reply to Comment
      • Thanks, Shmuel – why would I ban you for a comment like that? I banned that other guy because he’s abusive and nothing else. Anyway, to your question, allow me to copy you something I wrote a few days ago on FB in response to the same basic question: “When Israel does something good politically, I’m the happiest MF in the world. Read the piece I wrote about how the military/intel establishment stopped Bibi/Barak from bombing Iran. (I named Benny Gantz “man of the year” for 2012, and Meir Dagan for 2011 – neither is a left-wing hero.) As soon as it became clear Sharon was serious about disengagement, I cheered him on – something I never did before. I even, in 972, credited Bibi for getting Gilad Shalit released. I am more than ready – I am desperate for Israel to do the right thing, and I will praise whoever’s repsonsible to the skies. But politically, this place has become a hellhole. Do you remember when the right and left used to compete for power in Israel – like they do in every other democracy? It’s over. This is effectively a one-party state. We’re now waiting for Bibi to start a war w/Syria, or Lebanon, or both. The occupation is immovable, and we go from war to war. And in my view, Israel is the aggressor both in the occupation and in the recent wars and attacks. (With the exception of Second Lebanon War, where Hezbollah attacked after israel had fully withdrawn from Lebanon. The exception to the rule.) Given this situation, while I would love to write something positive, it ain’t happening. And I’m not going to go out of my way to write something positive just to appear “balanced.” From my pt of view, Israel is in an extremely bad way, and the people who recognize it as such have the responsibility to tell like it is.”

        Reply to Comment
        • Shmuel

          Larry I think you misunderstood my point.

          I will say it again, I don’t expect you to stop writing about human rights abuses. I also don’t expect you to write about positive things just to counterbalance the negative things that happen.

          Lets face it, we both want the same thing. We both want an end to this endless cycle of hate and abuse and counter hate/abuse, right?

          So let me clarify what I WAS saying by asking you a question:

          Do you think that if the left keeps on concentrating ONLY on the wrongs perpetrated by SOME Israelis and at the same time omitting context about the abuse and hatred that SOME Palestinian Arabs perpetrate against Israelis (I won’t say many, even though most Palestinian Arabs are guilty of hatred). Do you think that will solve the I-P conflict?

          If you say yes, then I beg to disagree with you. I think all it will do, is embolden the haters and the violent ones amongst the Arabs and they will perpetrate more hate crimes against Israelis who in turn will also react the same way. That is in fact what has been happening for the last 100 years.

          So you might ask what do I want the left to do? And my response is that I would urge you to be EQUALLY putspoken against acts of hate and abose by BOTH sides. Mercilessly, without fear or favour. Not just against Israel.

          NOTE: when I say “You”, I don’t just mean you personally Larry. I mean the entire left. But that is not happening. And you lament the demise of the left in Israel, rightly so IMHO, because as you say, a one party system is never healthy not even if it is not entirely a ‘one party’ but rather many like minded small parties as is the case in Israel.

          You asked me if I remember the time when the left and the right were able to vie for power in Israel. In fact, I am aware of a time quite a few years ago now that the left was the natural party in power in Israel. So what has changed? I say that what changed is that the left has lost it’s way. You guys were/are so desperate for peace that you are willing to concede too much. Thinking that by doing so, you will bring the Arabs around too. And again, IMHO you were/are wrong. Your approach has not and will not pay dividends. It has not swayed the Arabs from their original aims. They still vie for Israel’s destruction. In fact, it isn’t just my opinion. It is the opinion of most of the Israeli electorate. That is why, the Israeli left itself, contributed to the current situation.

          But if I/we are wrong, you guys have not done a good job to explain why I/we are wrong. So please, all I am asking you to do a better job here.

          Reply to Comment
          • OK, Shmuel, here’s my answer to your main question: For me, the issue is not hatred, it’s aggression, and I’m afraid that since 67, Israel has been the aggressor with the Palestinians, and in its attacks on other countries (Syria, Iran, Sudan), it is the aggressor, too – and that’s what I want to stop. If and when it does, its military superiority will overcome the hatred out there – as it already does, evidenced by the remarkably underwhelming military reponses of our targets. There’s hatred on both sides, to be sure, but there’s aggression basically on one side only. And like I pointed out in my previous response, when the aggression comes from the other side (2nd Leb War, a Nov. 2010 shooting exchange on Lebanese border) I’ve blamed the other side and defended Israel without any hesitation.

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          • Shmuel

            That is even better Larry. Let us talk about aggression.

            Again let me remind you that there is aggression by BOTH sides. We also need to ask ourselves what brings about the aggression.

            My hypothesis is that there isn’t just one thing that brings it about. Here are a couple of causes for it that I can think of:

            1. Old grievances. For example the claim that Israel has no right to exist because it exists on land that belongs to Arabs. I say that is a false claim. Being a Zionist, I hope you agree?

            2. Retaliation and counter retaliation. Well you have to agree though that aggression has to start somewhere. Don’t you? And I say that it can be traced back to 1) above. The Arabs started the aggression because they did not agree with the establishment of a Jewish state. And tit for tat aggression followed ever since.

            As for the quantity of aggression, who commits more of it, why and when? We could argue about it all day and at the end of it we may or may not agree. But I put it to you that all we would be arguing about is tactics.

            I would argue that Israel uses agression primarily because it wants to intimidate it’s enemies to stop their aggression. In doing so, does it use more aggression than it’s enemies? probably yes. Is it right to do so? Maybe maybe not. Again, we could argue about that all day. But if the Arabs would not be threatening the existence of Israel and if the Arabs would agree to formally recognise the Jewish nation state, Israel would have no need to resort to aggression.

            I feel that in order to resolve a problem, we need to look at the root cause of the problem. And my hypothesis is that the root cause is the lack of willingness by the Arabs to accept the existence of the Jewish nation state. What is your hypothesis Larry?
            And even more importantly, what is the hypothesis of other lefties? I have heard many of them reject the idea that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state. That is my beef with the left. And I would say most Israelis agree with me on that. I am pretty sure you agree with me on that too. Am I mistaken?

            What am I trying to say? I am saying that:

            1. I accept that to date Israel’s massive retaliatory tactics did not bring a peace agreement. But it did bring respite from massive Arab violence such as the second Intifada.

            2. Do you accept in return that turning the other cheek, such as the withdrawal from Lebanon, Gaza and prisoner releases did not bring peace either? In fact it seemed to increase Arab aggression.

            3. The only thing that has not been tried yet is political pressure on the Arabs too, to make concessions. At least the same kind of pressure that the international left is applying on Israel. That would bring the following dual benefits:

            A) It would show the Arabs that they are not being rewarded for THEIR intransigence. And maybe spur them too to give what Israel wants, proper recognition.

            B) It would show Israelis that the left has credibility too. Therefore pressure by the left on Israel would be more likely to yield results.

            As it is, the left is just dismissed by most Israelis as partisan supporters of the Arab cause.

            Reply to Comment
    14. Rada

      The assumption is among very many well-meaning Israeli’s that if the truth is to be told to the Israelis everything would change. But they are fooling themselves and de facto are buying time to the Zionists to complete the job of annexation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Like your article proves, wit very few exceptions the Israelis want the Zionist colonial project to be successfully finished and they do not care about the cost in Palestinians lives and human rights. This needs to be said openly instead of assuming that, inspite of majority of Israeli population having actually participated/is participating in the atrocities via serving in the IOF, and in today’s time of electronic information sharing, somehow the truth is kept hidden form the Israelis. Do enormous majority of Israelis know –yes they do. Do they care – no they don’t.

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