No, the Israeli Soldier Who Executed a Palestinian Is Not My Son

We, mothers of soldiers, must publicly reject the Israeli prime minister and public’s ‘solidarity’ with Soldier E. who shot a wounded man lying bleeding on the sidewalk.

Israelis gather in front of the Prime Minister's residence to express their support to an Israeli soldier caught on video shooting a wounded Palestinian assailant, Jerusalem, Israel, March 31, 2016.

I have to write this; otherwise I won’t be able to continue living with myself in this country – or anywhere else, actually. Haaretz’s lead story yesterday was: “The Hebron Soldier's Defense Is Working - He Is Now Every Mother’s Son.”

No! Every mother who is horrified by this has to stand up now and shriek to the high heavens: No! This is not my son! We send our sons to the army (yes, I also sent mine, all three of them), but we do not want our sons to shoot a wounded man lying bleeding on the sidewalk.

Those who support soldier E. have a point, however: He is being made into a scapegoat. A scapegoat who is charged with a crime, but still a scapegoat.

What about the many times that this has happened before?  The many times we have read about Palestinians wielding knives or scissors attacking or attempting to attack, and being shot to death on the spot? We read about these incidents, but as they were not filmed, that’s the end of it. Maybe some of them were also shot to death while lying already wounded?

A stabbing attack on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem. Haaretz

What about the two teenaged Palestinian girls who attacked passersby with scissors on the streets of Jerusalem last November? We saw the video: They are shot, one collapses against a wall, an armed man appears and shoots her to death. He was a policeman, he was questioned, that was all. He was not prosecuted; the entire country did not go into shock.

So no wonder that soldier E. confidently aimed his rifle and killed a man who lay helpless on the sidewalk, mortally wounded – not “neutralized” as the current media euphemism has it.  Soldier E. had a right to assume that his action would cause no stir. He didn’t realize that someone was filming the entire scene. Perhaps he was even confident of a consensus in favor of his act.

When Prime Minister Netanyahu, following the mob, makes a call to E.’s parents; when hearings on the case have to be moved to a larger venue to accommodate hundreds of supporters; when the social media explodes in solidarity with him; when this solidarity reminds Haaretz analyst Amos Harel of the public’s sympathy for Gilad Shalit, who was a prisoner of war – we have to ask: Where are you, opposition leaders? Where are you, mothers of soldiers? Isn’t it time to break your silence?

Carol Cook is a journalist and editor at Haaretz who has been living in Israel for over 30 years.