Israelis, You Are Scary

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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An Israeli soldier at the Gaza border, March 30, 2019.
An Israeli soldier at the Gaza border, March 30, 2019.Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

You are scary. Yes, you, Jewish Israelis. Particularly now, as we head into an election.

For you, the Center is someone who supports continued land theft, but not necessarily the expulsion of Palestinians. A legitimate candidate who could get your vote is someone who supports the expulsion of Arabs and the repeal of the minimum wage, but who also supports the legalization of cannabis.

For you, the Left is a tall Ashkenazi general who boasts of the thousands of Palestinians whom he has killed and who, when he thinks about a bloc of parties that would stand in the way of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection, doesn’t include the Arab parties. And the Center-Left are those who scream that Gaza has to be attacked because Netanyahu isn’t ordering it crushed.

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You are scary. In Givatayim and Bnei Brak, in Mishmar Ha’emek and Ofakim. In the cities, in collective moshavim and kibbutzim, whether you are religious, ex-religious or secular, Ashkenazi or Sephardi or “mixed,” you all provide soldiers and commanders, lawyers, architects, judges, bureaucrats in and out of uniform, undercover agents, guards at checkpoints and at the airport. You also provide contractors and developers of weapons and invasive surveillance technology. You are all an inseparable part of the people’s army, in and out of uniform, mobilized to crush the Palestinians’ dream of independence and freedom.

You do it whether knowingly or not wanting to know, with pleasure and with a wink and a nod, as active participants and as bystanders (and when you see that the repression isn’t going as planned, you come up with new and improved torture methods and hate propaganda).

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Haaretz Weekly Ep. 21Credit: Haaretz

Gaza: a huge prison not fit for human habitation. It’s scary how you created it, bit by bit, military order after military order, cabinet resolution after cabinet resolution, with one new excuse after another. And you disavow any responsibility for the water shortages and the water and soil pollution that is the cause of so much disease. You disavow responsibility for the high unemployment rate there, which is almost unrivaled in the world — a direct result of your policy barring freedom of movement. It’s scary how you can live just a few meters or kilometers from the mass prison that is Gaza and ignore it, unless the live prisoners there remind you of their existence with incendiary balloons and rockets.

Maintaining apartheid and colonialism requires the labor of people from all walks of life, artisans and day laborers. This implies a large number of families whose beloved children are sent to destroy a well or school in Zanuta in the South Hebron Hills, or houses in Kalansua, or to fire at Gaza fisherman who had hoped to scrape together 30 shekels, or at a teenage paramedic in the Deheisheh refugee camp. A lot of families, meaning a lot of Jewish Israelis who don’t want to know what their cute children, be they 19 or 32, are up to.

This implies a lot of Jewish Israeli parents who develop a mechanism to justify their children’s actions from the start, without getting into details. They did the same when they were their age. And their grandchildren will likely do the same too, because the Settlement and Plunder Defense Force is sacred and not a word can be said against it. And that’s scary.

This nation of high tech and Nobel Prize laureates, which takes pride in the musicians it has exported, in its inventors and writers and intellectuals — you are scary because of your disregard for the Arabs and the cramped reserves that you have created for them on both sides of the Green Line. You hide them behind physical walls and walls of your ignorance and apathy.

You military lawyers who find justifications for the killing of every unarmed Palestinian, for the seizure of every bit of ground, for the eviction of every Palestinian farmer from his land and who prevent a student from traveling from Gaza to the West Bank, are you scary. Without shooting or killing, you are destroying the lives of thousands on a daily basis. Without cursing, you state that the Palestinians are not human beings equal to the Jews, that they don’t hurt the way we do, that they don’t have the same talents and ambitions.

In short: that they are inferior. Also scary are the Supreme Court justices who trust in your wisdom and professionalism. All of you, the pride of Israel’s law schools.

You are scary. In 2018, you wrote a racist, violent or inciting social media post against Palestinians in Israel and/or the West Bank and Gaza every 66 seconds on average, according to a study initiated by the Haifa–based Hamleh Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media.

Last year, Jewish Israelis wrote 474,350 racist and/or violent posts against Palestinians. Knesset member Ayman Odeh was the most common target, mentioned 24,000 times, followed by Knesset member Ahmad Tibi, Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi and television personality Lucy Aharish.

And what about you lawyers and judges who rush to pursue and try and jail Palestinians for posts they’ve written but ignore violent and inciting posts against Arabs and the Left? It doesn’t make it less scary to know that this is how judges and lawyers behaved in other countries, during other periods.

Why is it a surprise that the Right is so strong? It is best at promoting the ideologies that justify the expulsions that have been and are still being committed by Israel. The right is best at promising to safeguard the spoils and booty and to continue the plundering and expulsion — to protect the purity of the nation, its mansions and its vacations abroad.