Shortly before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had the goodness of heart to grant an indulgence to the late Hitler, he granted a full pardon to another group of people. (For the information of Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, indulgence isn’t Don Quixote’s beloved or a country in Southeast Asia. An indulgence is a writ of pardon that the Catholic Church would sell sinners so they’d suffer less on their day of judgment).
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It happened at the Knesset’s opening session. Bibi staged a theatrical attack of fury after an MK said, during a debate on the Knesset TV channel, that treating the settlers as “innocent civilians” was unrealistic.
Bibi was angry. Bibi was shocked. Bibi protested. And of course, Bibi accused him of incitement. As far as he’s concerned, the settlers are innocent civilians, as pure and innocent as newborn babes.
This time it’s worth wondering: Is Bibi really nave or just pretending to be? Because the settlers aren’t innocent – not according to international law, sometimes not according to Israeli law, and certainly not according to their deeds, beliefs, aspirations and worldview.
They basically admit this; “The government sent us,” they declare. But governments don’t send “innocent civilians” on missions to take over territory across the border. For that they send an army, or at least a militia.
And just to be precise, the government didn’t “send them.” It only suggested that they go there. And they agreed. Maybe for cheap housing, maybe for huge benefits, maybe for the chance to satisfy ideology, wishes and passions. So the settlers aren’t simply an occupying power, but an occupying power of volunteers or a mercenary militia of occupiers.
In fact, they should be dressed in uniforms. Or at least their unofficial uniforms should be enshrined in law: a checked shirt, an oversized skullcap, ritual fringes sticking out under their shirts in meticulous casualness, a loaded rifle and a self-righteous expression.
Netanyahu continued with his wailing and said angrily to that MK: “Does that mean murdering settlers is allowed?”
You need a very warped mind to make that connection. Are we allowed to kill anyone who isn’t innocent? Where did that despicable logic come from? Anyone who isn’t innocent should end up in court, not in the forensic institute.
To our shame, this warped “spirit of the commander” has apparently become too common in our streets (see the footage of the shootings of Fadi Alloun and Asraa Abed). But that’s no reason to make it official. Even Netanyahu isn’t exactly innocent, if only because of his exaggerated obedience to the orders of the settlers’ force. Does that mean someone should kill him? God forbid.
For many years the settlers have had it both ways. If they desire, they are loyal soldiers in the service of the government that “sent them” to carry out a purely military task. If they desire, they are “innocent civilians” who wouldn’t hurt a fly.
But that doesn’t change the facts: Whatever Bibi says, the settlers are far from being innocent. They’re the strongest, cruelest, most important, most determined and most dangerous occupying power controlling the occupied territories.
They’re so important that all the other occupation forces – the army, the Shin Bet security service, the police and the other components of the military tyranny that rules the Palestinians – are no more than an auxiliary force to these occupying brigades. Support units of the main force.
And since the entire occupation is criminal, its implementers and guardians can’t pride themselves on their “innocence.” It’s forbidden to murder them, but it’s certainly allowed to hope that the time will come when they’ll be punished.