The Israeli Heart Understands the Political Reality More Than the Head

The situation will continue this way until truly, not just in words, it will be impossible to continue this way.

Thousands march in Tel Aviv in protest of incitement against Rivlin, leftist NGOs. December 19, 2015.
Moti Milrod

In the 2014 film “Fury,” which tells the story of an American tank in Germany during the final months of World War II, there is a moment in which it’s clear that the Germans are going to lose and that the end of the war is near. One of the naïve soldiers asks why, if this is so, is the war continuing? His commander, Brad Pitt, answers him: “It will end soon, but before it happens, a lot more people gotta die.”

In Israel everyone also realizes that it’s only a matter of time until the “Netanyahu era” is over; it’s obvious to everyone that Israel cannot remain on the course it’s on for a prolonged duration. But apparently here, too, before that happens a lot of people have to die. If not literally, then at least experience a deathly fear.

Truly, how many more people have to die as a result of this accursed occupation? There is a deceiving component to Israel’s reality, since a Green Line cuts through its moral sensitivity. The border it refuses to draw on a map is etched in its heart. Thus, all the evils occurring on the other side of that Green Line, the natural corollary of an occupation lasting almost 50 years, have not coalesced into a critical mass that will give the required impetus for a historic change of direction. The pain of others doesn’t hurt enough.

It’s not only the Palestinians who are suffering from this imaginary division – it’s the settlers as well. The pain felt by Israeli society when someone is murdered within the 1967 borders is different than the pain it feels when settlers are murdered. The murderous acts of violence to which the settlers are subjected on a daily basis, the natural by-products of the occupation, are also insufficient to accumulate into a critical mass that will give the necessary momentum for a historic change. The settlers’ pain also doesn’t hurt enough.

The heart apparently understands the political reality more than the head does. The Israeli heart respects the Green Line. Whatever happens beyond it remains beyond. The seepage of the occupation’s by-products into the 1967 borders is the only way into the Israeli heart. Until people in Tel Aviv and Haifa, Be’er Sheva and Nahariya don’t sense these by-products themselves, with an intensity or quantity that are familiar to those who live on the other side of the line, the heart will continue to lag behind the head, which already knows that this can’t go on.

In other words: The situation will continue this way until truly, not just in words, it will be impossible to continue this way.

Palestinian resistance groups, espousing violence as an effective way of achieving national liberation, try to pierce Israeli hearts through acts of terror, through inflicting the same pain felt by Palestinians, until Israelis can’t take it anymore. Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO are trying to reach Israeli hearts through the exertion of international pressure, namely by affecting Israeli pockets. Many leftist groups adopt a similar strategy, believing that international sanctions that hurt Israel’s economy will manage to arouse the hearts of Israelis, who are more affected by their bank accounts than by the suffering taking place beyond the Green Line.

Apparently unwittingly, the Im Tirtzu organization has decided in recent years to join the struggle of resistance and peace groups on both sides. It has decided to give Israelis a taste of the totalitarian medicine that was concocted for Palestinians. Censorship, political persecution, detentions – well known to Palestinians – are but a small sample.

The Israeli heart has taken notice, but feels no pain yet. It’s not really scary here yet. Artist Natali Cohen Vaxberg is still joking about her detention and thanking police for the publicity they afforded her, and Dorit Rabinyan is thanking the Ministry of Education for the spike in the sales of her censored book. As Brad Pitt put it, “It will end soon, but before it happens, a lot more people gotta die.”