The cycle of terror attacks by Palestinians against Israeli Jews has set everyone’s teeth on edge. The Jews are baying for blood and the Palestinians are enraged by the thousands of Israeli troops invading their villages and arresting hundreds of their brothers, sons and husbands.
#شاهد لحظة إعدام قوات الاحتلال للشهيدة غادة سباتين في بلدة حوسان غرب بيت لحم.
الشهيدة هي أرملة وأم لستة اطفال. pic.twitter.com/vvtp6WTp3j
— Newpress | نيو برس (@NewpressPs) April 10, 2022
Yesterday, two Palestinian women were executed in cold blood at West Bank checkpoints. Ghada Sabateen, 47 a partially-blind, widow and mother of six was crossing the road at a checkpoint. Soldiers grew suspicious and shouted at her to stop. When she continued moving toward them they shot her. She was unarmed. They let her bleed to death. As if this execution wasn’t bad enough, the Israeli hasbara apparatus is in full force on social media defaming the victim’s memory, claiming she wielded a knife, she intended to kill Jews, she was a terrorist, the soldiers fired in self-defense, etc. This is unconscionable. It is disgusting.
But when you live in a country like Israel you are subject to a form of mass psychosis. An entire nation whose very existence depends on mass violence and murder needs to maintain a powerful ability to deny reality. While individuals may be labeled psychopaths or sociopaths, Israel has become a nation afflicted with sociopathology. It must deny it is murdering the innocent. It must deny its evil acts by justifying them as justified, even righteous. Like the sociopath, Israel has no conscience. It does not know right from wrong. Or at least, it can distort its evil in such a way that it becomes good.
The only way to do that is by transforming the victims into objects worthy of murder. It is not unlike the psychological process used by the Nazis to turn Jews into rats or vermin. Transforming a people from human to sub-human is a critical step on the road to mass extermination. Israel hasn’t quite gotten there yet, as the Nazis did. But give it time.
Israeli Jews are delighted to throw around epithets like “terrorist” or “animal” when describing Palestinian attacks against them. But make no mistake, murders like that of Ghada Sabateen are no less acts of terror, state terror in fact. Palestinians have every right to engage in their own form of resistance against such overwhelming mass violence targeting them. Israel has a clear choice: it can continue to be state engaged in war crimes and mass murder; or it can be a state of all its citizens. It’s one or the other. There is no middle ground. And if it chooses the former, it will reap what it sows: a terror state generates terror in response.
The leader of the Palestinian Knesset delegation, MK Ayman Odeh, produced a video (above) at the Damascus Gate. He stands at the entrance to the Old City through which many Palestinians enter on their way to pray at the Haram al Sharif during the holy month of Ramadan. The Gate has been the site of mass riots by Israeli Border Police beating Palestinian youth. Palestinian citizens have complained that Israel stations Palestinian officers at these locations which, in effect, forces them to engage in acts of brutality against their own people.
In his video, Odeh called on all Israeli Palestinians serving in the police, army or other security services to quit their jobs and stop damaging their own people. He rightly notes that a very small number of such individuals serve in these roles (he estimates 1.5-2%). But the symbolism of Palestinians beating their own both delights many Israeli Jews; and angers the Palestinian victims fighting for their national rights.
To be clear, Israeli Palestinians face enormous poverty in their villages. Good jobs are almost impossible to find. Training for professional occupations is almost non-existent. Conversely, Israeli security jobs pay well and offer a certain level of prestige among Israeli Jews (if not their Palestinian brothers and sisters). Who can fault a man for wanting to feed his family and offer his children a future?
Odeh’s video was met with outrage by far-right Israeli politicians, including PM Bennett, who falsely called it a “criminal” act. Odeh was called a terrorist. Some demanded he be expelled from the Knesset. The venom and spleen only further confirm the deeply embedded hate and racism in Israeli society. It further confirms that there is no hope that Israeli Jews will ever compromise with Palestinians. Barring outside intervention, there will never be an independent Palestinian state; nor will there ever be a single democratic Israeli-Palestinian state. Conditions will only worsen. Lives lost will only increase.
Those who believe the worst outcome cannot happen in Israel must remember those of us, the majority of Americans, who scoffed at the prospect of Donald Trump winning the presidency. But the worst did happen. And it is only a miracle he didn’t rend the Republic and destroy two centuries of American democracy. If Bibi Netanyahu or any future Israel PM amasses the unbridled power Trump did, I do not doubt that Israel could forcibly expel its 1-million Palestinian citizens or the 2 1/2 million occupied Palestinians. It could engage in mass murder.
As unlikely as that seems–and many may say we’re nowhere near that point–many said the same when Trump was but a glimmer in the eye of the American voter. Don’t ever imagine Israel can’t go there, because it can. The worst can happen. It did in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, and Nazi Germany. Don’t ever think that a thin veneer of civilization or democracy can prevent the unthinkable. It could happen here.
If you know Arabic and have the technical expertise to caption Odeh’s video either in Hebrew or English, please let me know.