Policy of Contempt for Palestinian Lives

The cumulative results of the establishment's actions against the Palestinians are more destructive and lethal than all the acts of the individuals.

The IDF soldier who shot the wounded Palestinian terrorist in Hebron being escorted to court on the day after the incident, on March 25, 2016.
Ofer Vaknin

As opposed to the IDF, the Beit Shemesh municipality refuses to cast E., the soldier from Hebron, out from society. It published his full name and picture under the title of “Hero of Israel” in a statement of support. Whenever the IDF is caught with its pants down, it turns its soldier into a loner, whether he will be put on trial or forgiven. This is a process of separating the individual from the collective and disconnecting from the facts, in which the soldier is the reflection of his army, and the army is the reflection of its government.

E. and the rest of the soldiers, police officers and security guards who executed young women and men when it was possible to take them alive, were sent to carry out missions and they only followed orders: To guarantee the heart of Hebron remains empty of Palestinians. Let the settlements expand. Make the Palestinians behave well.

And if something goes wrong (and is filmed), the brain forgets about the finger on the trigger. Low-ranking E. was exposed to a field court-martial, while the high-ranking Binyamin Brigade commander Yisrael Shomer, who shot a young Palestinian suspected of throwing rocks in the back, and in doing so executed him without trial, is exempt.

A soldier who shot and killed a woman and her daughter in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead was put on trial, but the brigade commander who ordered to bombard a house, and in doing so, killed and injured dozens of members of the Samuni family, is absolved of any blame. The commander of the Air Force, who bombed dozens of homes with their inhabitants still inside and killed hundreds of women, elderly and children (the social censor erases the term “murder,” with all its derivatives, and replaces it with “killing”), is excused from answering any questions.

In comparison, the Palestinian is automatically considered to be dangerous as an individual, because he is part of a threatening collective. That is why it is justified to kill, murder, eliminate and neutralize him. The Israeli fear of the Palestinian collective has a spark of sincerity: Admission that we are causing them systematic and organized injustice and it is only logical that they intend to harm us in return. But this candidness is short-lived. The preacher from the Al-Aqsa Mosque who called for butchering Jews was convicted of incitement to violence, and it did not help him when he said these are matters of Koranic law. But the Jewish authors of the book “The King’s Torah” (Torat Hamelech), which is a “Jewish religious law discussion of the conditions under which it is permissible to kill a goy,” were not put on trial. They, as everyone knows, are marginal individuals murmuring words of Torah into their beards.

Separating between the fallen pants and the creased uniforms is an essential step in the army’s defensive shield against any possibility in which the military and its leaders in uniform and in civilian clothes will be accused of carrying out systematic and ongoing crimes as a policy.

The policy amounts to contempt for the lives of Palestinians while they are put to death, killed or murdered. Contempt for life while they are still alive, by demolishing their houses and not allowing them to build their neighborhoods, in separating their families, in the slums in Jerusalem and Ramle and Lod, in erasing their history, the Suspension Bill, the undrinkable water, poverty rates and impoverishment.

Focusing on the filmed soldiers or the hilltop youth, and the fluctuation between forgiving them as individuals, and rejecting them as individuals, causes us to forget that the cumulative results of the establishment’s actions against the Palestinians are more destructive and lethal than all the acts of the individuals.

The facts that for 70 years have promoted contempt for the lives of Palestinians have been efficiently isolated from the legal concept of “intention.” We have no intention of doing them harm, God forbid. Everything is by accident. And without intention there is no guilt and no punishment. But the intention is formulated every day by the results. And Beit Shemesh knows better: The intention, not just the act, is that of the Jewish-Israeli collective.