For Israel, It Seems Goliath Was the Victim

An Israeli MK says the Philistine giant had the right to defend himself against David, explaining why stricter punishment is needed for stone throwers. At least he recognizes who the underdog is these days.

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File photo: A Palestinian boy hurls stones towards an Israeli army tank during clashes in the West Bank town of Jenin April 16, 2003.
File photo: A Palestinian boy hurls stones towards an Israeli army tank during clashes in the West Bank town of Jenin April 16, 2003.Credit: Reuters
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Goliath also had the right to defend himself against David. That’s what we can understand from the words of MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi), chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, when he presented the bill seeking stricter punishment for stone throwers. “David killed Goliath, the strongest Philistine of all, with a stone,” said Slomiansky. “In other words, a stone can kill.”

From the infancy of our state, we required biblical imagery in order to strengthen our hold. To the best of my memory, our teachers in school always boasted that we were David, and that it wasn’t just a slingshot needed to kill Goliath but also brains and agility.

How great was our Schadenfreude for the huge, clumsy Goliath. Although we were never “David” against the Palestinians, that’s how we pretended to be. Slomiansky gave up on this pretense, and his frankness is commendable. He could quoted the statistics of stone throwing and its breakdown by regions in “Yeshastan.” But he found it difficult to relinquish the founding myth. Rather, he reversed its use and proved who we really are: Goliath. Goliath the victim. The unfortunate Shlimazel Goliath.

The amended law toughening the punishment for those convicted of stone throwing is not exceptional. It is merely an expression of the 48-year traditional treatment of those we are occupying.

We refuse to listen to their objections to our rule and the pure logic of their resistance. Instead we respond with harsher means. We answer the Palestinian violence (which was always but always a response to our fundamental violence) with many times greater ferocity. And we define those who resist as criminals.

The Palestinians are not the first to respond violently to the institutional violence – both military and bureaucratic – forced on them. And we have no copyright on the criminalization of the struggle for independence. Prisons in other repressive countries were and still are filled with prisoners – resistors – and, like here, their legislators and judges found and find scholarly arguments to criminalize any protest against the injustice.

Since 1967, Israel has arrested and jailed some 800,000 Palestinians (according to estimates from the Palestinians’ Ministry of Prisoners). According to Palestinian estimates, some 70 percent of Palestinian families have had one or more family members serve time in an Israeli prison, for actions against the occupation. So, the natural conclusion of our wise leaders is that this is not enough, and we must reach 105 percent of the families.

We declared the Palestine Liberation Organization a banned organization and repressed all its activities – and Islamic Jihad and Hamas bloomed. We answered the stones of those who rose up in the first intifada with rock-throwing machines and broken bones, and the killing of protesters and curfews. That’s how we prepared the ground for popular support for the militarization of the uprising.

To the popular committees and leaderships, we answered with mass-detention camps. Four hundred Hamas activists were deported to Lebanon – a golden opportunity for a political, military and patriotic communion for which the Islamic Movement should be grateful to Israel to this day.

We found a brilliant answer to the PLO’s willingness for an agreement: the Oslo fraud. You Palestinians will continue to live in your enclaves; we’ll expand our hold on Yeshastan (including East Jerusalem), and the world will call this the peace process.

We also found an appropriate response for the 1994 Baruch Goldstein massacre in Hebron: A curfew and the destruction of ancient Palestinian Hebron. Suicide attacks served to retrospectively justify all the repression and killing that went before. The oppression works for certain periods – and then comes another explosion.

The Israel Defense Forces’ immediate response to demonstrations during the second intifada was the killing of protesters. It reinvented collective punishment following isolated Palestinian shooting. The answer to suicide bombings was invasions and mass killings; to Qassam rockets – the destruction of entire neighborhoods; to Grad rockets – even greater destruction. And Iranian rockets – the destruction of all of Gaza. And we always adhered to the doomsday weapon: the greatest robbery of lands in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Our legislators and leaders tell us repeatedly this is all the Palestinians’ fault. These foolish criminals don’t understand the language of oppression. They don’t understand poor Goliath and his capabilities: Look, a few more dead, a few more prisoners and injured – then they’ll understand.

This is why, satisfied by the explanation of the stupidity of the Palestinians, the startup nation isn’t wondering to itself: Maybe these methods our leaders are using simply don’t work? The social-protest generation, so satisfied by its criticism of the standing army’s pensions, continues to support the concept of escalation. As far as Yeshastan is concerned, the nation of high-tech and social protests refuses to reach the conclusion that what has failed is oppression.

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