If all I did in this post was tell you about the suffering of Israeli peace activists who were beaten and brutalized at a pogrom at Anatot a few days ago, I would be telling you little that was newsworthy or that you didn’t know already. I’ve already reported here that senior Israeli police officers not only stood by and did nothing while bones were broken and one settler attempted to knife a protester, but that the police actually directly beat up the activists who’d come to support a Palestinian farmer whose land had been stolen by the settlement.
No, all this would be old news. But what Idan Landau has done is to focus very specifically on the level of sexual violence meted out to the female protesters by the settlers. But not just by the male settlers, by the female settlers specifically. I’ve read about the violence of which settlers are capable for years. That’s nothing new. But what Idan has collected in his blog post is new. Here is my translation (pardon the strong language which is in the original Hebrew) along with links to the original Hebrew eyewitness sources. Israeli journalist Haggai Matar quotes this victim:
“Outside [the vehicle], settlers are banging on the windows making a sign with their fingers drawn across their throats to show that they would slash my throat. They shriek: ‘Bring her outside [the vehicle]. We’ll deal with her. Give her what she has coming to her, the whore!'”
Tali Harkavy writes in Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity:
“‘Hellenist [derogatory term for Jew who betrays her religion]. Arabs fuck her in the ass.’ I want to get away. To run. I retreat quickly with my back to the path and my front to the attackers. Afraid to turn my back on them. One approaches too closely and rubs his crotch: ‘I’ll fuck you.’ He was serious.”
Sarah Benninga writes in Sheikh Jarrah:
“When the wives of the male attackers saw their husbands hitting male and female protestors alike, they [the settler women] applauded and spat at me: ‘Traitor,’ ‘You deserve it.’ And when they heard their husbands threaten us: ‘We’ll fuck you in the ass,’ they suddenly turned into men themselves, applauding their husbands’ sexual conquests as if they were one of the boys.”
Tal Konig reports in HaOketz:
“Three went to the hospital. Among them, Yassine [the Palestinian farmer originally attacked] with an open head wound, his wife over whose head they broke a broom handle, after which they abused her sexually.”
“The settlers actually stripped me naked. I tried to calm myself. History will bury them and their evil apartheid in blood.”
Landau interprets the language of the settlers as their means of revenge and redemption of their self-respect. Through rape, sodomy and other physical and verbal acts the honor of the tribe is upheld. It’s primitive, brutal, bestial, but alas all too human. We think we are Jews, that we don’t do such things, that we are civilized, that we have our sacred books and traditions that raise us above such brutalism. Alas, violence like this reminds us that we are only those things in our best moments. In our worst, we are no different. And when we are no different, we have betrayed those traditions which we like to think set us apart or above the worst humanity has to offer.
Finally, a word about the image Idan features in his post. Note that the face of the victim has been literally defaced. She is no longer a human being. She is in Hebrew a “SmolaNazi” (“Nazi leftist” or the equivalent of “Islamonazi”). This is the face of the Occupation. This is the dehumanization that settlements and oppression of another people do to Israel. And keep in mind that, as I’ve written before, Anatot is not Yitzhar; it isn’t the worst of the settlers, the ones harboring the real Jewish terrorists willing to put a bullet in an Arab’s back just for looking at ’em. Anatot is known for being an average settlement where Israelis moved for improved quality of life and for inexpensive housing giving them more house for their money. These are the economic settlers, not the ideological settlers. If Occupation can turn these people into beasts it can do this to anyone, even the best of us.
So far, not a peep from the Israeli government about an investigation of this incident or prosecution of the criminal acts that took place. Really, they can’t. 70% of the residents of Anatot are police officers. Can they try ten or fifteen police officers for serious crimes without the entire national police force rising up as one in protest? These criminals are, in effect, the state. Can the state arrest and try itself?
If Israelis themselves won’t pressure to investigate, perhaps you can contact the Israeli embassy or consulate nearest where you live and protest this brutality and demand that they take action. Tell them that actions such as these are a disgrace to Israel’s reputation and bring ignominy upon it. That may get them to take notice.
And once again, I warn that the U.S. government is allowing American Jews to send tens of millions of dollars to brutal, violent settlers and settlements just like this one, tax-free. We Americans and the Obama administration are colluding in this brutalization through our tax-deductible contributions.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.