A Murder Out of the Blue?

People attend the funeral of Dvir Sorek at the settlement of Ofra in the West Bank, August 8, 2019.
Tsafrir Abayov/AP

The leaders of the left immediately rallied to the flag. They didn’t dare to say anything political, they didn’t even dare to make even a small comment about the conflict. Nothing. Zero. Nada. They only consoled the family members. Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz said: “We strengthen the family and send heartfelt condolences.” Meretz Chairman Nitzan Horowitz wrote: “I would like to send our sincere condolences to the Sorek family.”

It’s true. The murder was shocking, and the family should be consoled. I am also sending my condolences from here to the parents and the siblings. It’s also true that Dvir was a special boy, a people lover, friendly and mature for his age. The fact that he was found dead with David Grossman’s latest book says a lot about him. But even in this case the whole truth must be told.

>> Read more: Why are only some murders horrible? | Gideon Levy 

The reaction of the settlers was absolute false naïveté: How is it possible to kill such a good person, who only went to buy a book. A gift for his rabbis? This is nothing less than a war of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness, against the angels of terror who harmed us only out of blind hatred. Esau is an enemy of Jacob. That is the Jewish destiny and we are the victims. “How did God let it happen?” asked Rabbi Shlomo Wilk, head of the hesder yeshiva (combining Torah study with army service), where Dvir Sorek was studying.

As far as they’re concerned, there is no connection between the murder of the soldier and the occupation. They find no connection between the murder and the hopeless situation of the nearly 3 million Palestinians who are being crushed under the burden of the occupation of the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service. The fact that there is almost no family in the West Bank that hasn’t experience death and humiliation and harassment, and people wounded and maimed after being shot by the security forces, makes no difference to them. They want it all. Both to settle on land that doesn’t belong to them, and to live in peace and quiet, every man under his vine and fig tree.

As far as the settlers are concerned, all they want is to build a house on some small hill, with a gorgeous view, and suddenly they come and bother them for no reason. So what if they stole the land and didn’t enable the Palestinians to survive, didn’t let them build factories, lay water pipelines and pave roads. After all, in any case the Arabs are used to dirt paths and donkeys.

And because the settlers are sensitive to heat, they have swimming pools in their private homes, while the poor wretches down below don’t even have running water in August, and are forced to buy water in tanks at an exorbitant price – from the Jews. Justice, justice you shall pursue.

Nor do they have any problem with the tremendous gaps: the 2.5 million Palestinians who are stuck in profound unemployment and dire poverty, with a per capita GDP of $3,000, compared to their $40,000. As far as they’re concerned, the Palestinians simply have to get accustomed to their fate, which has destined them to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for the masters on the top of the mountain, without complaining, and certainly without attacking.

“I saw the hatred in their eyes,” said one of the settlers, amazed. “I don’t understand what they want from me, what have I done to them, where does this hatred come from? After all, we want a shared life.”

I of course am opposed to the murder of Dvir Sorek, but you have to understand the difficult situation from which it originated. The problem is that the leaders of the left are afraid to tell this truth to the public. They fell silent in the face of the murder. They didn’t dare to talk about the clear connection between the occupation and the murder, because they are suffering from the “battered wife syndrome,” when a wife has been beaten and humiliated by her husband for so long that she accepts her inferior status and believes that she is to blame for the abuse. She even tries to appease her husband, in the hope that he will stop beating and abusing her, and will finally begin to love her.

The settlers have succeeded into turning those who favor the two-state solution into traitors, supporters of the Oslo Accords into criminals, and supporters of the evacuation of Gush Katif into the guilty parties. And the leaders of the left, instead of confronting them and speaking the truth out loud, have accepted the blame, and are engaged in self flagellation, purism and self-criticism, in a desperate attempt to placate the settlers, to accommodate them and not to anger them – just like the battered wife.