Blood and Matza

Was I born suspicious? Is it hereditary? Did the snake of doubt crawl into our family's gene pool? Not necessarily. My parents were among the most loyal of loyalists. My father thought that David Ben-Gurion was God, and I was afraid at night that both of them - my father and his god - would perform experiments on me in the Land of Moriah. And my mother thought that Dov Yosef, the rationing and supply minister, was God's deputy and appointed herself a secret policewoman to patrol the black market for him.

When exactly was the primeval doubt sown and when did it begin to grow wild? It's easier to remember the major crisis, when during the first Lebanon war those who wore and removed their uniforms banded together to deceive us all.

Eight years later, in 1990, I myself took part in the lie, which still burns today. At the time my friend, Sari Nusseibeh, was arrested and imprisoned for "subversive activities of gathering security information for Iraqi intelligence."

I didn't believe it. I asked to see the material, and I received it. In his book "Once Upon a Country," Nusseibeh writes that the Israeli Yossi Sarid, for whose sake he resigned from the union at Bir Zeit, was a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Israeli Knesset. He writes that Sarid told him that he had been shown convincing proof that Nusseibeh was a secret agent.

I did Sari a terrible injustice. He has forgiven me, but I haven't forgiven myself. I betrayed a personal friendship, one based on common ideals. I was enticed into believing the security people. Since then, as far as I'm concerned, no source is unimpeachable, and the burden of proof is always on them. And when the Israel Defense Forces finds it hard to put together a coherent version of its story, I know that it's getting entangled in a web of lies and half-truths. And when the version doesn't hold water, it apparently holds blood.

This week, in the space of 24 hours, four unarmed Palestinians were shot and killed near Nablus. After one incident, there was a hasty report that no live ammunition was fired, but it soon turned out that in their flight the bullets removed their rubber coating and donned lead. In a second incident, a report came in of pitchforks that instantly turned into small hoes, and of a broken bottle in a field and a discarded syringe - weapons of war and oppression. And immediately came the news of a "serious attack" that had been prevented in the settlement of Itamar.

"They didn't look at all like farmers," said the soldiers speaking in the voice of the settlers. "We checked their palms, they had soft and delicate hands, without the calluses of farmers." And in their anger they killed people, cursed be their anger.

When IDF youth are assisted by hilltop youth, those with soft and delicate hands have no chance; their fate is sealed. One little callus would have saved them.

I don't believe you, sinning official spokespeople. And you don't care that I don't believe; after all, four young Palestinians who are killed are a matter for the bottom of the page deep inside the newspapers.

Still, you should care, because when you release the safety catch and your hand is light and invites a serious mistake, even Staff Sgt. Gabriel Cepic is liable to be killed by friendly fire; and that's really a shame.

I actually wanted to write something nice for Passover this year. But in advance of Seder night I felt a need to get rid of the leavened bread and keep the blood away from the matza.