The discussion on the occupation can only be held abroad. Such a debate requires the existence of a free democratic society where people know what’s going on. So the discussion can’t be held in Israel, just as the discussion on the Yazidis can’t be held in Iraq and the discussion on gay people and journalists can’t be held in Russia.
Under Israeli rule live two societies that are incapable of holding a discussion on the occupation. There’s the Jewish society that lives in denial and repression, knowing nothing and not wanting to know anything; and the Palestinian society that knows everything but has no rights.
In a situation where one society has the power to influence but does not recognize reality, while the other knows but no one asks for its opinion, it’s imperative to take the discussion outside, to make sure the world knows what the Israeli occupation looks like and to make its crimes known. That’s the way to end them.
The argument that this is an undemocratic step is one of the most brazen, hypocritical statements ever made in Israel. It’s saying that the occupation is democracy, and that reporting to the world about its crimes is anti-democracy. There’s no limit to the hypocrisy and impudence.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid also wants to settle matters at home, as they do at the Ger Hasidic court, as they once did on the kibbutzim and as they do in crime families.
“Breaking the Silence is not interested in influencing Israeli society from within, but prefers to slander us abroad,” Lapid has written on Facebook, later retracting a marginal part of the post.
To him, Haaretz’s English edition is a partner to the smear crime. Yair McCarthy is waging a no-holds-barred war against the English edition; he even brings up the husband of the English edition’s next editor.
The soldiers and veterans in Breaking the Silence have a duty to tell everyone, and Haaretz has a duty to report to everyone – in Israel and especially around the world. The occupation’s crimes must be told everywhere. Things cannot be settled “at home” because at home there’s a brainwashing, crime-sanitizing system that’s hitting a new high – not only aren’t there any crimes, there isn’t any occupation. You can’t hold a discussion with people cut off from reality, and the reality is that the occupation’s crimes are horrific and getting worse.
The world must be told of every execution, and of the apartheid in water distribution, which cries out to the heavens. It must be told about the mass arrests – 4,800 people have been arrested in the current wave of violence, 1,400 of them children. In the second Intifada 80,000 Palestinians were imprisoned, and 24,000 orders were issued to lock up tens of thousands of people without trial.
Not tell the world about this? Whom can we tell? The Israelis who see every Palestinian as a terrorist and every terrorist as someone who must die? Not tell the world that almost a million Palestinians have been imprisoned by Israel since the beginning of the occupation? Not tell that 60 Palestinian lawmakers have been arrested in a country that allegedly doesn’t make arrests on a political basis?
And it’s a country where people are abducted from their beds every night, without a court order, sometimes for no reason at all. So if we don’t tell about all this, who’ll know? And if nobody knows, how will it ever end?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine wasn’t an internal Russian matter, nor was apartheid in South Africa, whose opponents traveled the world to tell about its crimes. Spreading the word is the way to get the international community involved, which is sometimes the only resort.
All people who break the silence in Israel are doing their patriotic, human and moral duty. Lapid knows that Breaking the Silence and Haaretz wouldn’t exist if they weren’t reporting the truth. The Lapids know that these reports are true; this is why they’re so afraid of them and why they’re fighting them so fiercely.
But at least one modest achievement has been made. The mere knowledge that something is burning under the Lapids’ feet, or shall we say over their heads, gives rise to a little hope.
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