The 'Traitors' Who Filmed Our 'Heroic' Soldier Executing a Wounded Palestinian Terrorist

According to Israel's right wing, the anti-occupation NGO B’Tselem is the guilty party.

Israeli soldiers surround the body of one of the two Palestinians who were killed after attacking a soldier in Hebron, March 24, 2016.
AFP

There is no mystery about the incident in which an Israel Defense Forces soldier killed a wounded terrorist. What’s to investigate? The soldier did what he did without provocation and apparently without any suspicion about his target’s plans. He simply thought the Arab should die. Submissive, bound, with a knife or without – his fate to die was sealed.

But that soldier has nothing to worry about. A well-oiled machine, constantly fed by a large number of people who think, like the Sephardic chief rabbi, that non-Jews have no place in the State of Israel, has come out in his defense. Right-wing politicians are defending him, trying to satisfy their voters even at the cost of damage to the values by which the State of Israel was shaped. He is defended by those who hate the justice system, first and foremost the justice minister who, instead of supporting the system under her aegis, attacks and humiliates it. And he is defended by many of Israel’s citizens, who believe that not only should he not be punished but that he is practically a war hero.

All of these people are further strengthened in their beliefs by the fact that the criminal act was not filmed by IDF cameras, but by a camera whose purpose is, in their minds, to distort reality – a camera belonging to an organization that is considered almost an enemy by a large part of the public – B’Tselem.

When a Turkish citizen wants to know what his president thinks, he should read the daily Zaman, which the president nationalized; when Israelis want to know what their prime minister thinks, they should read his personal newspaper Israel Hayom. It is doubtful Russian President Vladimir Putin has such an obedient mouthpiece. And this is what one of the senior journalists of that newspaper wrote: “The absurdity – the terrorist who sought to murder has the backing and the protection of the B’Tselem cameras, while an IDF combat solider needs a lawyer and the mercy of the media.” The heir to Ben-Gurion, Eshkol, Begin and Rabin no longer speaks of the army’s morality, not even as lip service. According to the message he conveys, B’Tselem is the enemy and the soldier was simply caught on its cameras.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows that the claim he reiterates – that terror against Israel stems not from despair or frustration, but rather from an Islamic State viewpoint that seeks to bring down Western civilization – is mendacious, but it serves his agenda and his desire to present B’Tselem as collaborating with the enemy of the Jewish state fighting for its life.

In the current atmosphere in Israel of victimhood and self-pity, I venture a guess that if a public opinion survey were conducted now including a question as to whether one supports the killing of Arabs because they are Arabs, at least about a third would answer in the affirmative. After all, the way he is depicted, his religion and the hatred ascribed to an Arab makes him someone who should be killed.

I believe that the term “apartheid state” does not precisely apply to Israel, because it does not meet all the criteria of this regime as it did to the one in South Africa. However, it is clear that Israel’s citizens are showing obvious signs of racism. There are people here who believe that the Jews have privileges that shouldn’t be given non-Jews, who are considered second-class citizens by the rabbinic elite and its many followers.

What can we learn from all this? Will racism bring down the little solidarity that characterized Israeli society? It seems that it will. Because 20 years ago a soldier who shook the hand of the infamous Kahanist Baruch Marzel would have been perceived as a strange and dubious character. Today boundaries that we naturally assumed to be permanent have been crossed.

But that’s only one side of the equation. On the other side are still many citizens who believe in the vision that brought Israel into being. This country was not established as the state of rabble-rousing rabbis. We came here to build a home whose Jewish walls rest on foundations of democracy and longing for peace.