Israel's Occupation as a Provincial Issue

The national consensus is that the Palestinians' fate under Israeli rule is an internal Israeli matter. Any involvement of non-Israelis in the issue is rude, foreign interference

Right-wing protesters demonstrate against Breaking the Silence in Haifa in July 2016.
Rami Shllush

The main point of Sami Peretz’s opinion on Breaking the Silence (“Time for Breaking the Silence to be quiet abroad,” Nov. 26) is that oppressing Palestinians is an internal Israeli matter. All his other claims and grievances against the brave and indispensable organization are just derivatives. Including his factual mistake on what Breaking the Silence’s goal is.

Contrary to what he wrote, members of the NGO from the very start turned to the Israeli public, and they continue to address or try to address it, despite all the attempts to silence them. After all, there are soldiers or reservists among the Israeli public, and not among the Swiss army, for whom the penny will finally drop, and they will realize that they were drafted for the security of a thieving enterprise.

Whether or not he meant to, Peretz summed up Israel’s success in turning our domination of millions of rights-deprived subjects from an international problem into a municipal issue, something like a Haredi minister who “resigns” over railway maintenance. In contrast to violating the sanctity of the Sabbath, organized Israeli sadism (in short, the occupation) cannot knock over governments and does not knock Israelis over with shock.

Most Jews in Israel will agree that the local authority called the Land of Israel suffers from a serious internal problem named the Palestinians. Because of congenital criminal traits, they’ve taken over lands that God gave to our father Abraham and to every one of us, the Jews, personally. Because of congenital criminal traits, they build without our permission shacks and tents and even concrete homes, which the authorities must demolish. For instance, Al-Araqib, Kalansua and Jibna.

They speak a foreign, unintelligible language, in which they hatch all kinds of plots against us. They are infiltrators and illegal aliens. They refuse to gather only in special quarters that the local authority allocated for them. They are ungrateful customers of the Israeli water and electric companies. They complain that Israel sells them water that it steals from them, and they complain about prohibitions that undermine their economy. And above all that, they constantly harass our children – the soldiers and policemen.

So, the Palestinians’ fate under our rule is an internal Israeli matter. (Prof. Menachem Klein of Bar-Ilan University put it well this way in private conversation.) Any involvement of non-Israelis in the Palestinians’ fate is rude, foreign interference. Therefore, anyone who gives them information is a traitor. Traitors, as we know, inform in return for money, so we loathe them. Contributions from abroad are legitimate, most of us believe, only when they advance our war industry, pamper right-wing party leaders and MKs, or compensate slightly for the destruction of public social services.

Reducing Breaking the Silence’s activities to the question of funding speaks not only to the heart of Im Tirtzu and Ayelet Shaked, but also to the hearts of many other Israeli Jews. In the end, it is not only a municipal issue, it’s a provincial one. Residents of the shtetl are competing for the rich uncle’s generosity.

No – the issue of foreign funding is an excuse, a hook on which to hang Israel’s collective fear. Israeli groups that oppose the occupation do two unforgivable things. Their work in Israel and abroad is liable to endanger the Israeli Jews’ profits from the real estate bonanza and arms trade we generate thanks to our domination of the Palestinians, from the open arms that greet Israeli business people, academics and athletes. By turning to the international community, including its Jews, these groups insist on reminding it that our foreign rule over the Palestinians is abnormal, an international problem, and that the world disgraces itself by letting Israel go on oppressing the Palestinians as it pleases.

These NGOs are the first that will applaud the international community if, instead of making donations, it uses the tools at its disposal – international law and the fear of global war – to force Israel and its Jewish citizens to stop, to think and to change.