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NO ABERRATION

March 26, 2016

 

Yesterday’s killing in cold blood of a young wounded Palestinian assailant, who had already been “neutralized,” has pushed in our face the bottom-line reality of what we are doing in this occupation. The object of our attention should be the two commanders who stood by before and after the murder. The significance of their visibly impassive attitude can only be that this killing was nothing extraordinary. No excitement on their part, no looking around to see if they are being filmed. No big deal, this killing. Now that is horrifying.

What have we gotten used to? We listen to reports of stabbings and subsequent killings as we listen occasionally to the weather. We make sure that no one we know fell victim today. When describing the fate of the attackers, newscasters no longer say “neutralized,” but rather killed. We don’t ask how he/she was killed. We assume the soldiers took care of business. It is common knowledge that commanders are turning a blind eye to outrageous behavior on the part of their soldiers. Luckily, someone from B’tselem had the presence of mind to film this particular atrocity. I don’t want to see this film, but I run it over and over….something about the casual banality of the soldier’s walking over to finish the job. The streams of blood pouring out of the guy’s head. We don’t yet know his name.

Yes, knife-wielding youths with murder on their minds have names too. We fear uttering the words, “We Israelis stand responsible in part for the phenomenon of these young stabbers.” Their blood is on our hands. The anguish of their daily lives, the humiliation of their families and neighbors, the absence of a horizon….have we no responsibility for all this? We are responsible for putting up with the endless violence, for the deaths of all these people. Does it really matter who started it?

No person is justified in attacking another. Physical attacks push solutions away. They solve nothing. For a few days, some members of these kids’ families feel pride, along with the grief of another lost young life, they receive stature in the neighborhood, thanks to their shahid. How sad, what a paltry return on their suffering.

Yesterday’s killing is likely to splash gasoline on the youth in the territories. The camps and cities will see wilder demonstrations. Our mature leaders will condemn the lone soldier, hoping we’ll buy their righteous indignation at this aberration. “This is not Israel,” we’ll be told. The soldier will be punished. Maybe he’ll learn his lesson. Will we?

Yoav Peck

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