Moshe Silman Died on the Altar of the Settlements

Against Moshe Silman were pitted three enemies, three monsters of power.

Cruel terrorism claimed another victim this weekend: Moshe Silman. All attempts to privatize his death and present it as a "personal tragedy" by the father of national privatization, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, could not change the picture. Silman was the victim of acts of hostility: hostility toward the weak.

There are many other citizens like him, victims of that same hostility. Some of them - those weaker than Silman - deteriorate to the street, to poverty; others, strong like him, fight to the end. Israel's National Insurance Institute, which was so cruel to Silman during his life, must now recognize him in death as a victim of hostile acts, with all that entails.

But the story is not (only ) about the NII. Here is an institution that was supposed to be one of the most popular in society, whose job is to offer a safety net, assistance and compassion. However, it has changed over the years of cruel abuse into one of the most hated institutions, yet everybody accepts this as an edict from the heavens.

This is a story of awareness, or a lack thereof. It's not just the establishment that is guilty for the existence of the Silmans. Society as a whole is also guilty for accepting their country's warped and sick priorities with blind obedience, apathy and indifference. Every attempt to cast doubt here will always be met by waves of derision: "Demagogy"; "Populism"; "What don't you understand?"; "What's that got to do with it?"

Well, it has everything to do with it. Silman - I apologize for the cliche - was a soldier who fell in battle. Therefore his death, like that of every soldier, was not a private death but a very national one. Against him were pitted three enemies, three monsters of power. The first was the Netanyahu government's neoconservative policy, which is dismantling all the social safety nets. Until last summer Israel was apathetic toward this dismantling; astonishingly, even this summer most of the country still supports those guilty of it. Many of the weak voted (and will vote ) for the Likud, the first proof of blindness and unawareness.

But if some fractures were opened last summer and some questions asked about the neoconservative policy, these were completely ignored by the other two monsters. They are dozing quietly, plump and well-nourished. No one disturbs their slumber or tries to challenge their strength. The defense and settlements budgets have bypassed the social protest and economic slowdown without knowing they ever came close to them. Even momentarily-protesting Israel accepted them as an axiom, as holy cows not to be touched.

These two monsters' innards know no shortage, no cutbacks, no desperation and no Silmans. There, in the land of monsters, everything comes easy. Only six minutes were needed last week to approve the allocation of over NIS 6 billion (! ) to buy new training aircraft for the Israel Defense Forces from Italy. Only four of the 15 members of the Finance Committee bothered to turn up for the discussion, and only one objected.

No less quickly, the government approved tens of millions of shekels for relocating the houses of the Ulpana neighborhood in the Beit El settlement. And, even quicker, the finance minister approved tens of millions of shekels for the university in Ariel. For this there is money: always and unlimited. After all, when have you ever heard of a real cut in the monsters' budgets?

When has any military caprice or settlement whim ever been blocked because of budgetary considerations? These two carnivores control the strongest, wildest and most aggressive lobbies in the land, that no government can withstand. These two draw their sustenance from a never-changing menu: paranoia and nationalism.

The paranoia feeds the defense budget and prevents any cuts in it; the nationalism feeds the settlement budget, which rides over every wave of social protest and economic slowdown with containers and construction. No economic consideration or social reasoning matter when governments discuss the budgets of these two monsters. What's the connection?

What's the connection?! Silman died on the altar of the settlements and defense. Until this connection is deeply understood and assimilated, there will be no efficient protest here - also not from those with terrorized, painful and blackened faces like Silman's. This is not just about the leadership of Israel, it is about its citizens. Change will come if, and only if, they put their hands in the real fire of the defense and settlement budgets. Until then the Silmans will burn, and their deaths will be for nothing.