Opinion |

This Israeli Soldier Had No Idea He Put His Knee to the Head of a Palestinian George Floyd

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An Israeli soldier detains a Palestinian demonstrator during a protest against Jewish settlements in Jbarah village south of Tulkarm, September 1, 2020.
An Israeli soldier detains a Palestinian demonstrator during a protest against Jewish settlements in Jbarah village south of Tulkarm, September 1, 2020. Credit: RANEEN SAWAFTA/ REUTERS

Khairi Hanoun is a little bit older than me. My age is exactly the same age as the occupation, so Hanoun was 7 when Israel decided that it would rule over him against his will, nullify his basic human rights, steal his land and not let him vote.

I have a cousin who lives in Chicago, has never visited Israel and has no connection to this country. But if he “makes aliyah” – because Israel lies above, with the rest of the world below – just because he wants to, on a whim, he’ll automatically receive every right, while Hanoun will continue receiving zero rights.

After all, in Israel, his life is much less important than my American cousin’s life, who would have a hard time finding Israel on a map.

On the day the Israeli delegation flew to Abu Dhabi to make peace without Khairi Hanoun, he protested the confiscation of land near Tul Karm in the West Bank. What happened there was filmed and uploaded to social media. I watched and my stomach turned. Helpless fury overcame me. I apologize, Khairi. Your life is no less important than mine.

A young officer in the Israeli army, the age of my daughter, threw 60-year-old Hanoun to the ground. His kaffiyeh fell off from the force of the fall. The officer sat on Hanoun. He held him down on the ground, pushing Hanoun’s face in the sand. And he put his knee on his head.

That’s how a soldier doing “meaningful service” in the Israel Defense Forces looks today. And this is exactly how George Floyd was killed by a policeman in Minneapolis, in an incident that led to a worldwide protest against police brutality in the United States against Black people.

Sixty-year-old Hanoun wasn’t armed. The officer was armed from head to toe, and he must have known about the incident with Floyd. Maybe he even was on Floyd’s side, a supporter of the rights of the Black community in the United States.

It’s fashionable, but it never occurred to him that his knee was crushing the neck of the Palestinian George Floyd. The soldiers around him aimed their rifles at the journalists, fired in the air and shouted “Back!” They made no attempt to hide their actions, they had nothing to hide. There was nothing to be ashamed of, it was an Arab. What’s the problem?

In a different video, Hanoun can be seen a few minutes later sitting in a car that’s trying to leave the scene. The officer breaks the window on the driver’s side with his rifle and shouts, pushes, threatens and waves his gun.

Why? Because. The IDF spokesman accused Hanoun of “rioting,” “incitement,” “provocation.” He called the video “partial and biased.”

Please excuse me, Khairi. The lives of Palestinians are no less important than the life of George Floyd. Who knows, maybe the video of your humiliation will reach LeBron James. Maybe he’ll tweet your horror.

Maybe the officer who did that to you is a fan of LeBron. Maybe then he’ll be ashamed. And we’ll continue to fantasize that you receive justice.

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