There were probably traffic jams on the Ayalon Highway when Israeli troops raided the village of Hawara near Nablus to erase the security camera footage of what appeared to be two settlers executing the wounded Mohammed Abdel Fattah. At that moment, millions of Israelis were listening to music as they drove to work; others tuned in to the news – it was election season and you have to keep up. On our side of the Green Line it was another peaceful morning thanks to the Israel Defense of the Feeling that Everything’s Fine Forces.
There’s nothing we want more than to believe that everything is O.K – to be stuck in traffic and imagine were on an open highway, to control millions of people and say there is no occupation.
Imagine what would happen if the news programs showed the full video that the army erased: images of Abdel Fatah throwing rocks at settlers who were driving through the village until one of them stopped his car and shot him. Minutes later, another settler arrived and the two killed a wounded man.
Like in the Elor Azaria case, demonstrators would again gather to remind the head of the Israel Defense Forces that Yitzhak Rabin is still looking for a friend, and for a while we wouldn’t be able to gossip about the first lady like they do in America. But everything’s fine, there’s no footage, the soldiers made sure of that.
The fighters of the Everything is Fine Forces don’t always wear uniforms. Sometimes they go into battle wearing only suits. Take the Strategic Affairs Ministry, where rather than employ civil servants, they recruit “experts in combating BDS,” as the bureaucrats there like to call themselves. Just this week these fighters celebrated the targeted assassination of a delegimitization terrorist with ink on his hands: The court upheld the deportation of Omar Shakir, regional director of Human Rights Watch.
Shakir’s alleged crime is supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, but his real, unforgivable sin is cracking our wall of denial. And there are always more sinners to be found: the never-ending attempt to remind us that the Palestinians were also created in God’s image, breaking our silence about the routine of military service in the territories, and the constant demand that Israel live up to international standards for safeguarding human rights. These disturbances of our peace bother us so much that instead of fixing the situation we prefer to deport the messenger.
The desire to feel like everything is O.K almost reached as far as the moon. Just two days after the election we all watched the launch of the Beresheet spacecraft – one small step for denial, one giant leap for Israel. It was another moment in which we could forget about the reality over the Green Line and imagine that we’re a normal country overcoming normal challenges. We just wanted to look up to the skies and tell ourselves that the twinkle we saw was nothing less than a light unto the nations.
Even such an achievement, as impressive and exciting as it is, is put in the service of the indomitable need for normalcy. There are no shortcuts. If we want the real Israel to be like the one we prefer to imagine, we’ll have to admit one simple truth: Normal countries don’t keep millions of people under military rule.
No matter how many human rights activists we deport or how many executions we whitewash, we won’t be able to quiet that annoying buzz in the ear that keeps reminding us of what we’re so desperate to forget. Even if we land on the moon, we’ll never be able to make Hawara go away.
Dean Issacharoff is the spokesman for the group Breaking the Silence.
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