Opinion

You Bet It’s Apartheid

With Ahed Tamimi's sentence to jail, the truth has come out about Israel

Mohammed Tamimi, Ahed Tamimi's 15-year-old cousin. January 5, 2018.
AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed

They might not have intended it – this is too big for them, and perhaps even too big for their arrogance, but they are the initiators of the regime, or at least its harbingers. They studied law and went to work (“to serve”) in the military courts. They were promoted and became military judges. That’s what they call the clerk-officers who work for the moral army as judges of the occupied in the occupied territories. They work in a military unit with a biblical name: the “Judea Military Court,” and they decide people’s fate. No doubt they’re certain they’re working in a legal system, like they were taught at university. There are, after all, prosecutors and defense attorneys in it. There’s even a translator.

Most of the work attracts no attention. In Israel, who cares what happens in the prefabs at the Ofer military base? They have sent thousands of people to an aggregate tens of thousands of years of imprisonment, and almost never exonerated anyone; at their workplace, there’s no such thing. They have also approved hundreds of detentions without hearings, even though there is no such thing in a country of law. Day after day, it’s just another day at the office.

And then Ahed Tamimi came to them. Almost 2 million people around the world signed a petition calling for her release. And the forces of Israeli military justice just kept at it, clerks devoted to the system. Now they must be thanked. This time they exposed to the world the naked truth: They are working for an apartheid system. They are its harbingers. They are its formulators. They are its contractors, small cogs in a big machine, but reflective of reality.

The three officers who judged the teenage girl in various military courts, Col. Netanel Benishu, president of the Military Court of Appeals (there’s no shortage of titles here), who approved the hearing in the dark behind closed doors; Lt. Col. Menahem Lieberman, president of the Judea Military Court, who approved the plea bargain by which Tamimi and her mother would serve eight months in prison for nothing, or for her heroism, and Lt. Col. Haim Balilty, who approved her remaining in custody throughout the trial. One day they’ll be appointed to the Supreme Court. A colonel, and two lieutenant colonels who told the world: There’s apartheid here.

Only by chance were the three all religious, a kind of innocent coincidence. We don’t know who among them is a settler, but that of course means nothing either. They went to work in a military court of the occupation to protect human rights in the territories, in the name of the Lord of Hosts.After their rulings on Tamimi, there are no fair-minded people left in the world, not even in brainwashed Israel, who can seriously claim that an apartheid regime does not exist in the territories. The BDS movement should congratulate the officers who lifted all doubt from those who still had any doubts. The legal system that has one law for Jews and another for Palestinians, without apology, without whitewashing, should be appreciated for its honesty. A legal system that sentenced a soldier who shot a wounded man to only one more month than its sentence for a teenage girl who slapped a soldier – this is a system that openly admits it considers slapping the occupier equal to the murder of a person under occupation. Only one month separates the two.

A system that could not conceive of arresting, interrogating, indicting and certainly not sentencing to many months in prison a girl from the settlements who slapped a soldier, threw garbage at him, punctured the tires of his vehicle, threw stones at him or struck him – such a system sent Tamimi to eight months in prison. Need we say more? Her attorney, Gaby Lasky, could do nothing but agree to the plea bargain. Lasky, too, like two million people around the world, wants to see Tamimi free.

And perhaps Tamimi’s sentence is proper. Thanks to it, Israeli propaganda can no longer argue with the world against the charge of apartheid without ridicule. The colonels from Judea have exposed the truth, which has long been known. You bet it’s apartheid.