last Sunday, a question has been running around in
my head and troubling my sleep: What induced the young
Palestinian, who broke into Kibbutz Metzer, to aim
his weapon at a mother and her two little children
and kill them?
war one does not kill children. That is a fundamental
human instinct, common to all peoples and all cultures.
Even a Palestinian who wants to take revenge for the
hundreds of children killed by the Israeli army should
not take revenge on children. No moral commandment
says "a child for a child".
persons who do these things are not known as crazy
killers, blood-thirsty from birth. In almost all interviews
with relatives and neighbors they are described as
quite ordinary, non-violent individuals. Many of them
are not religious fanatics. Indeed, Sirkhan Sirkhan,
the man who committed the deed in Metzer, belonged
to Fatah, a secular movement.
persons belong to all social classes; some come from
poor families who have reached the threshold of hunger,
but others come from middle class families, university
students, educated people. Their genes are not different
what makes them do these things? What makes other
Palestinians justify them?
order to cope, one has to understand, and that does
not mean to justify. Nothing in the world can justify
a Palestinian who shoots at a child in his mother's
embrace, just as nothing can justify an Israeli who
drops a bomb on a house in which a child is sleeping
in his bed. As the Hebrew poet Bialik wrote a hundred
years ago, after the Kishinev pogrom: "Even Satan
has not yet invented the revenge for the blood of
a little child."
without understanding, it is impossible to cope. The
chiefs of the IDF have a simple solution: hit, hit,
hit. Kill the attackers. Kill their commanders. Kill
the leaders of their organizations. Demolish the homes
of their families and exile their relatives. But,
wonder of wonders, these methods achieve the opposite.
After the huge IDF bulldozer flattens the "terrorist
everything on its way, within days a new "infrastructure"
comes into being. According to the announcements of
the IDF itself, since operation "Protective Shield"
there have been some fifty warnings of imminent attacks
reason for this can be summed up in one word: rage.
rage, that fills the soul of a human being, leaving
no space for anything else. Rage that dominates the
person's whole life, making life itself unimportant.
Rage that wipes out all limitations, eclipses all
values, breaks the chains of family and responsibility.
Rage that a person wakes up with in the morning, goes
to sleep with in the evening, dreams about at night.
Rage that tells a person: get up, take a weapon or
an explosive belt, go to their homes and kill, kill,
kill, no matter what the consequences.
ordinary Israeli, who has never been in the Palestinian
territories, cannot even imagine the reasons for this
rage. Our media totally ignore the events there, or
describe them in small, sweetened doses. The average
Israeli knows somehow that the Palestinians suffer
(it's their own fault, of course), but he has no idea
what's really happening there. It doesn't concern
are demolished. A merchant, lawyer, ordinary craftsman,
respected in his community, turns overnight into a
"homeless", he and his children and grandchildren.
Each one of them a potential suicide bomber.
are being uprooted in their thousands. For the officer,
it's just a tree, an obstacle. For the owners, it's
the blood of his heart, the heritage of his forefathers,
years of toil, the livelihood of his family. Each
one of them a potential suicide bomber.
a hill between the villages a gang of thugs has put
up an "outpost". The army arrives to defend
them. When the villagers come to till their fields,
they are shot at. They are forbidden to work in all
fields and groves within a one or two kilometers range,
so that the security of the outpost will not be endangered.
The peasants see from afar, with longing eyes, how
their fruit is rotting on the trees, how their fields
are being covered by thorns and thistles waist high,
while their children have nothing to eat. Each one
of them a potential suicide bomber.
are killed. Their torn bodies lie in the streets,
for everyone to see. Some of them are "martyrs"
who chose their lot. But many others - men, women,
children - are killed "by mistake", "accidentally",
"trying to escape", "were close to
the source of fire" - and all the hundred and
one pretexts of professional spokesmen. The IDF does
not apologize, officers and soldiers are never convicted,
because "that's how things are in war".
But each of the people killed has parents, brothers,
sons, cousins. Each one of them a potential suicide
these are the families living on the fringes of hunger,
suffering from severe malnutrition. Fathers who cannot
bring food to their children feel despair. Each one
of them a potential suicide bomber.
of thousands are kept under curfew for weeks and months
on end, eight persons cooped up in two or three rooms,
a living hell difficult to imagine, while outside
the settlers have a ball, protected by the soldiers.
A vicious circle: yesterday's bombers caused the curfew,
the curfew creates the bombers of tomorrow.
beyond all these, the total humiliation which every
Palestinian, without distinction of age, gender or
social standing, experiences every moment of his life.
Not an abstract humiliation, but an altogether concrete
one. To be dependent for life and death on the whim
of an 18-year old boy in the street and at one of
the innumerable checkpoints that a Palestinian has
to pass wherever he goes, while gangs of settlers
pass freely and "visit" their villages,
damage property, pick the olives in their groves,
set fire to the trees.
Israeli who has not seen it cannot imagine such a
life, a situation of "every bastard a king"
and "the slave who has becomes master",
a situation of curses and pushes at best, threats
with weapons in many cases, actual shooting in some.
Not to mention the sick on the way to dialysis, the
pregnant women on the way to hospital, students who
don't get to their classes, children who can't reach
their schools. The youngsters who see their venerable
grandfather publicly humiliated by some boy in uniform
with a runny nose. Each one of them a potential suicide
normal Israeli cannot imagine all this. After all,
the soldiers are nice boys, the sons of all of us,
only yesterday they were schoolboys. But when one
takes these nice boys and puts them in uniforms, pushes
them through the military machine and puts them into
a situation of occupation, something happens to them.
Many try to keep their human face in impossible circumstances,
many others become order-fulfilling robots. And always,
in every company, there are some disturbed people
who flourish in this situation and do repulsive things,
knowing that their officers will turn a blind eye
or wink approvingly.
this does not justify the killing of children in the
arms of their mother. But it helps to grasp why this
is happening, and why this will go on happening as
long as the occupation lasts.
article has been reprinted with the permission of
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