In my last post I looked at Jeff Halper’s pained reflection on why Israel is so cruel, He made the point that he had crossed “the membrane few Israeli Jews ever cross.” He had exposed himself to the extraordinary suffering, in this case of the house demolition and the its traumatic effect on the Shawarmreh family. His sense of Jewish ethics was shattered.He searched in vain for a plausible reason for such a barbarous act.
Halper is among a small minority of Israeli Jews who ever expose themselves to the staggering, daily suffering of the Palestinian people. Israel’s segregation policy (”hafrada”) like that of apartheid South Africa and the US South and indeed of the current ghettoization of US blacks in most US cities today, makes it easy to stereotype “”the Other.”
In Israel Halper writes “the suffering and humiliation we rain on Palestinians take on a life of their own beyond rational fear of the Other.” The author is stunned at what he observes daily and what Canadian Jews never see but give a tribal assent to..None of us ,Jews or otherwise, would ever tolerate such wanton cruelty. Whence comes this massive indifference?t
Halper asks: “Is the reason simply than an oppressive system knows no bounds, that cruelty and impunity are part and parcel of any system which makes such elementary human acts as building a home for one’s family?”
“Why do Israel settlements pour their raw sewage into the fields of Palestinian farmers? Why do pregnant women die at checkpoints, why are Palestinian children terrorized on their way to school, why have more than a million olive and fruit trees been uprooted , why are entire Bedouin villages demolished in the Negev (homes of Arab citizens of Israel who serve in the army}, why do 70% of the Palestinians love in deep poverty, why,why, why?”
For the founder oI ICAHD ethnocracy (the privileging of one “ethnos” people,Israelis) over another in a supposed democracy is a downward spiral.It goes far beyond a political system privileging one particular group; by its very nature it contains the seeds of oppression.
Many Jews of Conscience here and in Israel ask the same question
Zeev Sternhell the Polish-born Israeli historian, political scientist, commentator who headed the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem recently wrote
I frequently ask myself how a historian in 50 or 100 years will interpret our period. When, he will ask, did people in Israel start to realize that the state that was established in the War of Independence, on the ruins of European Jewry and at the cost of the blood of combatants some of whom were Holocaust survivors, had devolved into a true monstrosity for its non-Jewish inhabitants. When did some Israelis understand that their cruelty and ability to bully others, Palestinians or Africans, began eroding the moral legitimacy of their existence as a sovereign entity?”