Opinion |

The Wisdom of the Israeli Occupation

Reality shows that Israelis who believe in the rule 'don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you' are of unsound mind, while those who support plunder are the wise ones.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Israeli Civil Administration officials issue stop-work order for the construction of a water well in the Palestinian village of Susya, June 2013.
Israeli Civil Administration officials issue stop-work order for the construction of a water well in the Palestinian village of Susya, June 2013.Credit: Moti Milrod
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

Every “dry” news item relating to Israeli domination over the Palestinians is an expression of faith in the wisdom of the readers. Soon they will come to the conclusion that the physical, military and bureaucratic violence that we exert on the Palestinians is not only a violation of the Jewish rule that we have always taken pride in – “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you” – it also constitutes a threat to the future of us all.

This writer hopes that, in their wisdom, female readers will ultimately shake themselves of their maternal naiveté and encourage their soldier sons to refuse to destroy Palestinian tents and block Palestinians’ wells and break into their homes and shoot at fisherman in Gaza. In their wisdom, readers will free themselves of their daily troubles and act to put an end to the suicidal policies of their state and their governments. And if this has lasted 50 years, or really 70, it’s only because we have not managed to report all the dry facts.

Here, for example, are two such facts, among hundreds of others that didn’t make it into your news last week, either for lack of space or lack of writing hands:

Early on Wednesday, eight armored military vehicles invaded Rukab Street in Ramallah. Israeli soldiers burst into the offices of the Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute, a non-governmental organization that advocates better government policies toward the under-regarded, such as women, young people and the disabled. The soldiers blew open the doors and confiscated videos, memory cards from security cameras, computer hard drives and a variety of documents. They also destroyed computer equipment, smashed windows and punched holes in walls. Two young people who protested the incursion were shot and wounded.

That same day, an activist in organizations engaged in popular, unarmed struggle, Salah Hawaja, had his detention extended for further interrogation. He was arrested on October 26 and has been held since for questioning by the Shin Bet security service, and for most of this period has been barred access to a lawyer.

According to the minutes in the case, at the hearing on a second remand on November 9, he told a military court judge in Petah Tikva, Maj. Yaron Ben Yosef: “You can establish from the doctor that I have back and shoulder pain, and three days ago I had numbness in my left arm as a result of the pain, and the pain has gone to my chest. Since Sunday they haven’t let me sleep. The interrogator has been just sitting there, as if he was guarding me and their aim is for me not to sleep. Most of the interrogators have asked me more about whether I like seeing my wife without clothes on. One interrogator asked me: ‘How old is your son?’ I said ’18 years old.’ They said he will go to work for Israel as a collaborator.”

At the third remand hearing, on November 16, the minutes disclose that defense lawyer Lea Tsemel asked police interrogator Sgt. Maj. Radi Khatib (who appeared in court on behalf of the prosecution): “He claims that there is an interrogator of Russian background who calls himself Satan Gordon and that this satan abuses him physically as well. Can you say whether this is true?” Khatib answered: “I don’t know. An interrogator by the name of Gordon interrogated him, but I didn’t see such a description.”

But no – it is not because facts have failed to be reported that the occupation has prevailed over wisdom.

Every opinion column and commentary related to Israeli domination over the Palestinians is an expression of renewed disappointment with the readers’ intelligence. The need to explain in 400 words that plunder is plunder and abuse is abuse, that evil is evil and a lie is a lie is an admission of the low ratings of the facts. Nationalistic narcissism, brainwashing in schools and on television, and a drive to protect the fruits of the plunder and to justify it have overrode wisdom and sense. That’s how it’s been for the past 50, or rather even 70 years.

So even those committed to unarmed political activity, to the inclusion of women in health programs and consciousness raising as part of the struggle are seen as appropriate targets of our army and our soldiers and our sleep-depriving interrogators. They torture and derive pleasure over their status. They concoct allegations against Hawaja about contact with a foreign agent to remove him from the path of popular struggle and send a signal to others: We will always find ways to incriminate and torture you until you admit to whatever we wish.

Indeed, there is a contradiction in contrasting wisdom with plunder and evil. There are those who will say there is arrogance in making such a contrast. If 50 years, or actually 70, of plunder pay off, it’s probably wise to support and encourage it. If we have been dispossessing the Palestinians for 70 years, taking control of their space and splintering them as a people, and nothing horrible has happened to us, that’s a sign of our people’s wisdom.

The wars and the blood that has been shed and the bereavement are insignificant if in return, we are getting clumps of earth, golden calves and military assistance from Barack Obama. And it's us, who believe in the wisdom of the rule “don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you,” who have lost our senses.

Yes! I can already hear the internet commenters down there, saying: “We’re the smart ones while you are not only traitors but also fools.”

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