The cruelty of Israel pt.I



Jeff Halper

I don’t think that anyone can honestly disagree that since 1948 the Palestinians have been the victims, israelis the victors…None of this it must be clear justifies Israel’s subsequent official behavior both toward itself and  their Palestinian victims, where a hard cruelty,a dehumanizing attitude, an almost sadistic severity in putting down the  the Palestinians has prevailed over the years.

Edward Said 2007 in The War for Palestine

Jeff Halper, the American Israeli begins his book an israeli in Palestine with an incident which changed his life. He was 52 years old then in 1998 as he watched his friend Salim Shawamreh’s home demolished.He could find no reason for  this destructive act which made absolutely no sense. The sudden  and brutal uprooting of the  Shawarmreh family which included 6 kids  transformed his life.

“I crossed the membrane few Israeli Jews ever cross,” he wrote describing his horror of soldiers throwing canisters of tear gas through the windows, of the young children running and screaming in all directions, workers ripping out beroom and living room sets, pictures and children’s toys,schoolbooks tossed  out and trampled underfoot.

“i\It was the deep sense of unfairness and outrage which welled up inside me as I witnessed the demolition.”The traditional Jewish ethics were shattered by  the state terrorism he witnessed. It was simply too much. Halper went on to found ICAHD, the Israeli Committee against  House Demolitions, According to ICAHD {} since 1967 there have been 48,000 acts of wanton cruelty like this.



This coldness, the unfeeling hardness that I encounter daily among Israeli soldiers at checkpoints or at home demolitions  in the Occupied Territories, among clerks of the Civil Administration as they turn down a request for dialysis treatment in an Israeli hospital, among settlers in Hebron who proudly  watch as their kids kick or torment Palestinian children or  the elderly, as well as among our politicians who pursue the  most hateful policies towards our own Arab citizens (such as  the law forbidding Palestinian citizens of Israel from either  bringing their spouses into Israel from the Occupied Territories  or joining them)—where does this disturbing element of Israeli  culture and policy come from? I am continually asked.



How  can Jews do these things after what they have been through?  It does not come from Jewish culture, although it must have  been part of our national culture in biblical times if we obeyed the biblical command to kill every Canaanite man, woman and  child. That latent manifestation of power, violence, exclusivity  and cruelty, suppressed over the 2,000 years of diaspora, seems to have surfaced again, if we listen to the testimony of Epstein,  with the rise of modern Jewish settlement in Palestine. The very  act of carving an ethnocracy out of someone else’s country must  require a calculated cold-heartedness, transformed into a virtue  when “heroically” confronting “cruel” Arab mayhem—which is how we have always characterized their resistance, another example of narrative reversal.

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