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An unbearable burden on human conscience

Israel is a society in deep crisis, and nothing lays this bare more than six former heads of its notorious domestic intelligence service conceding the regime’s brutality towards Palestinians

Thousands of demonstrators marched on the streets in almost every capital and major city in the five continents, from Japan in the east to US in the west, and from Europe to South Africa. Even, the king of Sweden and his wife abandoned the inherited pomp of monarchies and walked in the street wearing Palestinian keffiyah to show solidarity with Gaza. Why was the world united against Israel?

We might find some answers in Israeli writer Ari Shavit’s article titled ‘How will Israel deal with Hamas’ secret weapon?’, published on August 7 in Haaretz newspaper: “In the July war, Hamas fired 3,356 rockets at Israel, some of them short range, some long range, some medium range. But the most dangerous rocket Hamas launched in Operation Protective Edge was the 3,357th one.

This invisible rocket was intercontinental. It struck hard at Israel’s most important support bases in five continents. It reached every home in America, caused huge damage in every single country in Europe and it’s lethal explosives reached South America and Asia and [the] Indian sub-continent also.”

The conclusion for Shavit is obvious: “Hamas... [created] a shameful image for the State of Israel, in the eyes of billions of people around the world... It seems that Hamas will not launch anymore rockets at Ashkelon and Ashdod, but will use its secret missile to try to make us other than what we are, to make us [apartheid] South Africa.”

Such facts, which Shavit wrote about, are just a renewed realisation that dawns on Israelis in historic moments such as the recent aggression against Gaza. Back in 1987 when the first Palestinian uprising erupted, Israeli commentators wrote that the uprising had erased the so-called ‘Green Line’ separating the territories occupied in 1967 and the 1948 territories. Such existential obsessions emerge only in times when the fundamental reality of Israel becomes unavoidable: an occupier state, robbing continuously the land of another people and massacring them continuously. This is the glaring truth, which is in contrast to the image of a people who suffered the Holocaust.

In other words, those existential obsessions take the story to its beginning point: how this state was founded and how the international community gave a group of people the right to displace another people and occupy their homeland and disperse them. Thus, such existential obsessions come to the fore when the international community tries to turn a blind eye to the forgotten meaning of that decision: “a permission to kill the Palestinian people and uproot them from their homeland”.

This understanding went deep in the collective consciousness of the Israelis. This led to them coining one definition of victory: the number of their victims. No wonder all of Israel’s aggressions against Palestinians over the decades of this conflict always increased numbers of Palestinian victims. Politically, this understanding embodies a single goal: Palestinians must always be defeated and remain losers.

The July-August aggression and the ceasefire talks in Cairo that followed, illustrate this understanding very clearly. There were more than 2,100 Palestinian victims, mostly children and civilians. And in the truce talks, there would be no waivering. The blockade of is set to Gaza continue, and the most basic requirements of life — like food and medicine — are, for the most part, forbidden. In other words, Palestinians have to remain losers even when it comes to the simple requirements of life.

The history of Israel is moving along two inseparable lines, massacres and the absolute rejection of any political concession of any kind. It is unfortunate that the world needs a bloody reminder — such as the aggression against Gaza — from time to time to remember that Israel has not implemented UN resolutions since 1947, except half of resolution 181, which led to its inception. It ignored the other half, which provides for the establishment of a state for the Palestinians.

“Our hearts became cruel and we became like ferocious beasts towards Palestinians under the pretext of combating terrorism.”
-Abraham Shalom
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Negotiations lasted 20 years since 1994 without any progress except mounting desperation among Palestinians, and that’s the most accurate living embodiment of Israel’s strategic goal since 1993: preventing any path for the growth of a Palestinian state. But in Gaza, it’s not about the conditions of statehood and negotiations on the demarcation of borders. It is about the right of the Palestinian population in the Strip to get the minimum requirements for living.

The world was united against Israel in a rare consensus not because of the unbearable scenes of dead Palestinian children but due to the fact that Israeli actions represent an unbearable burden on the human conscience. Some of the weight of this unbearable burden is borne by Israelis themselves.

It’s a society in deep crisis, ethically and politically. This is not an Arab writer like me is saying it, but six Israeli men. And they are not just ordinary men; they are six former heads of the Israeli domestic intelligence service Shin Bet — one of the dirtiest Israeli intelligence organisations. In a documentary film directed by Dror Moreh and screened in 2013, these former intelligence officials admit that Israel conceded defeat, politically and ethically, by occupying the West Bank and Gaza and call for peace with Palestinians.

In a burdened conscience testimony, Abraham Shalom one of those six men says: “Our hearts became cruel and we became like ferocious beasts towards Palestinians under the pretext of combating terrorism.”

It’s time to get rid of this burden. “It’s time for the world to do what it did it the case of apartheid South Africa: boycotts, divestment and sanctions.


Mohammad Fadhel is a Bahraini writer and Media consultant at “b’huth” (Dubai).

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