A Boy Was Killed. No One Cares

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Palestinians carry the body of Mohammed al-Alami, 11, during his funeral in the village of Beit Ummar, in the West Bank, last week.
Palestinians carry the body of Mohammed al-Alami, 11, during his funeral in the village of Beit Ummar, in the West Bank, last week.Credit: Majdi Mohammed,AP

“The public interest” is obvious to everyone. No one can dispute what Israelis care about and what they couldn’t care less about. Over the past week and a half, Israeli soldiers have shot and killed four Palestinians, and no one cares – not even about the 11-year-old boy who was shot dead while sitting in the family car. The maternal instinct in the country of Jewish mothers did not stir. How could this be?

Go argue with the instinct. Maybe it’s like with the supermodel Linda Evangelista, who said in 1990 that she doesn’t “wake up for less than $10,000 a day.” The Jewish maternal instinct doesn’t wake up for less than a massacre or an equally dramatic event. Perhaps four children would have done it for us. There’s no guarantee. Sixty-seven Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip were killed in Operation Guardian of the Walls, in May, and it didn’t affect us. Collateral damage.

We got over it, it seems. We’re bored. Who knows. Some readers might even complain about my special expectation that women should raise the banner of empathy. They might even argue that talking about maternal instinct is to exclude men, or that to attribute to women characteristics like compassion, softness, empathy and containment is a kind of boomer gender-Orientalism.

Fine, leave women out of it. But what happened to the energy that was once put into fighting the occupation? After all, “public interest” is still there, it hasn’t waned, we haven’t lost interest in what’s going on, we’re not depressed. On the contrary, the public is aware and passionate. Social media is blowing up with interest in a variety of issues, current events programs on radio and television are an exploding volcano of libido. Public interest has simply been diverted to other political topics, and the leaders have their fingers on the pulse. They determine the agenda on the basis of ratings and clickbait.

And so, the leader of the left wing, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz, who on paper should be leading the struggle against the occupation, did not raise the alarm over the bloody week in the territories. He didn’t tweet about the report that the Israel Defense Forces concealed the negligent killing of noncombatants, among them a 9-month-old baby, during the Gaza operation in May.

On the day Haaretz published the report, he tweeted about his work on behalf of the transgender community, and stressed that the “gender confirmation process saves lives.” The pleasant Horowitz is not the story here. He simply knows the political consumption habits of his voters and he delivers the goods, like any content provider who wants their customer to continue to follow them.

Just as the affable Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev knows that the electorate gets riled up over descriptions of sexual harassment. So he gives them what they want, including disproportionate attention to a melodramatic reality-show star, who since an allegedly traumatic 11 P.M. visit to a police station has been seen on TV, in the Knesset and in the Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth – who knows, she might yet be a candidate for president, after Isaac Herzog. They believe her; they don’t believe Palestinians.

But hold on, how did we get from the killing of Palestinian children to Gal Gvaram? What’s the connection? Why does one have to come at the expense of the other? Because that’s how it is. It’s a fact. And don’t talk about joining causes together. It’s simply not true. “Anyone but Bibi,” #MeToo, the gender revolution – in; occupation – out. It’s always one thing at the expense of another. Just as no one can be in two places at once. Energy, money, time and public interest are limited resources. Moreover, the only reason you managed to read this essay all the way through is because I stopped talking about the Palestinians and the occupation and I annoyed you with topics that really move you. Admit it.

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