Opinion

If We Israelis Were Palestinians, What Would We Do?

During the British Mandate, we wanted the British out, and we shot them, hanged them, and blew them up. If they had had women and children here, we would have killed them, too

The destruction after the Irgun's 1946 bombing of Jerusalem's King David Hotel.
Wikimedia Commons

What do you think the Palestinians ought to do? We know what the nationalist-religious right would like to do to the Palestinians – blow them up, bombard them and kill them all. Indiscriminately – men, women and children. Not that this would help, but a few bodies would put the gleam back in their eyes. They’d be happy to get up one morning and see that the Arabs have disappeared, that this headache is gone. That we were left here alone with Yair Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked.

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But we aren’t here alone. They are still here. Too many to kill, to put in detention camps, or load onto trucks. Perhaps they cannot be killed, but we can make their lives miserable. How would you feel about someone who was trying to make your life miserable, keeping you off the roads, crowding you into endless queues and judging you in ridiculous trials? You would think that person has a very high opinion of himself, that he thinks he should be the ruler and you the slave. That he is supreme and you are garbage.

What would you do to someone who thinks that you’re garbage? After all, you wouldn’t kill civilians, including women and children. Ah, and not their soldiers either, right? One second, did I hear someone say that it’s permitted to kill soldiers? To kill the children of all of us? Okay, I knew that couldn’t be right. So without killing and without marches to the border fence and without protests to the United Nations, okay? Deal?

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And what would you do if the one making your life miserable would also be demanding that you sit with them to negotiate? He wouldn’t be coming just to talk, he would be coming with conditions. The first condition is that you agree that he could build settlements as if there were no negotiations, and that you continue with negotiations as if he isn’t building anything. The second condition is that the negotiations continue indefinitely. For how long? Oh, a thousand, two thousand years or so.

And so that you shouldn’t come to him later with complaints, he tells you in advance that in the end you won’t get anything. Yup, you heard right – nothing. It’s not because he doesn’t want to, but because of things that you’ll never understand, like coalitions, the Gerrer Rebbe, things like that.

So what would you do if you were in their place? You, the liberals, left-wingers and peace lovers? Obviously you’re a little embarrassed; you’re embarrassed because you’re also a little involved. That’s true, you say. We’re partners to this, but silent ones, Shimon Peres-style.

Are you dreaming, as Peres did, that an “economic horizon” will calm them? Perhaps a “new Middle East?” One that would give them such good lives that they won’t even think about terror attacks? You’ll offer them a partnership – you’ll bring the technology and they’ll be the hired hands! You’ll give them internet and they’ll pay you back with cleaning services! Give them a horizon and it will all work out.

But it won’t work out. They don’t want you or your horizon. So what the hell do those bastards want? They want independence and sovereignty. They want to separate from you and your technology. But go and explain to them that it’s impossible to separate; it’s impossible because of Bennett, because of Case 3000 and because of Sara. Because Sara isn’t particularly fond of Naftali and can’t stand Ayelet, and because you don’t know yet what it’s like to sit with Yaakov Litzman.

So there would be no point in talking, and the only option left to you would be terror attacks. It sounds bad – pretty hopeless, actually – but who’s talking about hope, as if we have hoped? Gideon Sa’ar is hope? Yisrael Katz? Ayelet Shaked? So, please calm down. Hope isn’t part of the deal. If you want to take out your anger caused by checkpoints and the shooting at children, then put on yellow vests and demonstrate against higher prices for electricity, cheese and Bamba.

“What would you do in their place?” is not a theoretical question, because it almost happened to us. We were almost there. Almost, because the British Mandate wasn’t like the Israeli occupation, because the British were not Israelis, because the English built infrastructure for a state, education, administration and transportation here, and didn’t think they were doing anyone a favor.

And how did we respond? Were we grateful? Did we beg them to stay? No. We wanted them out of here as soon as possible with all their horizons. We wanted independence and sovereignty. We shot them, hanged them, and blew them up. If they had had women and children here, we would have killed them, too.

Fine, but we were “fighting the foreign occupier,” and the Palestinians are “murderers of innocents.”