Both the Israeli Right and Left need ‘rotten apples’ like the Hebron shooter in order to justify their Orwellian worldview.
I waited and waited. Abed Fatah al-Sharif is his name. Not “the Palestinian” or “the terrorist.” I waited and waited for one of Israel’s major media outlets — not including tabloids such as Israel Hayom, Yedioth Ahronoth, or Walla! — but rather Haaretz and Channel 10 to open their items on last week’s the Hebron shooting by including al-Sharif’s name. I am still waiting for something that will likely not come.
It is unsurprising that Israelis will curse and ignore the personal identity of a dead Palestinian who dared to directly challenge the occupation — as if he were born nameless. But how do the majority of Palestinians view the soldier who shot al-Sharif? As a soldier of the occupation, just one of many.
The soldier who shot al-Sharif is just another kid who was brainwashed with hatred and ended up committing a murder. Like every soldier, one can only assume that he would have killed more had he not been caught on camera. The Zionist mentality precludes Israelis from understanding that according to international law, Palestinians have a right to resist military occupation. Israelis are up in arms over one case that leaves no room for doubt, yet in Orwellian fashion they ignore all the other cases in which Palestinians were shot to death — ones that didn’t happen to be caught on camera.
If we are already talking about Orwell, it is unbelievable that Israelis are unable to see through their blinding self-righteousness. Your army will forever be “moral,” while the other side, which fights for its dignity and freedom out of total desperation — to the point where Palestinians choose death over life — will forever be viewed as terrorists. This is how Israelis view reality, and no matter how much we write or speak out — they will prefer to dig their head in the sand. Just like the good people in Orwell’s Oceania.
How convenient is it for Israelis to leave the soldier in the lurch, without ever admitting just how badly they need him. They need him because he is the human shield that protects them from themselves — the one who blocks the way to the mirror that’s on the wall. After all, they can always look at this soldier, or say of the Israelis who set the Dawabshe family on fire, and say to themselves: “These are the bad guys, not us. We are moral.” But the fact of the matter is the majority of them are not, whether on the Left or the Right.
The majority of Israel’s political and military echelon — along with its top journalists — love to present Israelis as enlightened, whether they are leftists or rightists. I am speaking about mainstream Israelis: the ones who do not care when women and children are massacred in Gaza, the ones who admit to the crimes of the occupation that began in 1967, yet ignores the crimes and dispossession of the original occupation in 1948 — since it was “necessary for the national project.”
Whether they are racist right-wingers or so-called enlightened leftists, the majority of Israelis need people like the executing soldier or settlers who burn families alive. The rightist can use them as examples to talk about a moral army and an enlightened occupation, and putting people on trial in order to “get rid of rotten apples.” While the leftist, just as he hides behind the occupation in order to ignore the bleeding wound of the Nakba, will exploit them to talk about the “cruelty of the occupation,” which causes Israelis to act like the terrorists themselves.
When even Haaretz, the only mainstream indicator of normalcy here, calls 11-year-old children “terrorists,” Israelis must realize that their very sanity is in danger. While many of the so-called enlightened Israelis stop to talk about the soldier’s Mizrahi identity (and thus hinting that he, somehow, is the victim in this story) the only people at Haaretz who refuse to demonize these Palestinians are Gideon Levy and Amira Hass — two Ashkenazi Israelis.
When Israelis use the execution as an opportunity to talk among themselves about social injustice within Jewish society — as if this matters to Palestinians — or to hide behind rhetoric of a “few rotten apples,” they show us just how badly they have failed to see the bigger picture. Once again.
This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.