What a rough day this has been: yet another mass shooting at Michigan State; another painful bout of miscommunication with my teenage son. But bad as these are, they are nothing compared to the Sorrow of Palestine. Yesterday, a 14 year-old boy, Qusai Waked, was murdered in Jenin by an IDF sniper firing from over a quarter of a mile away. What could this boy have done to deserve a death sentence? Throw a rock? Even wield a crude Carlo against the heavily-armored invader? In what world does a country train its soldiers to murder children?
An Israeli sniper shot and killed 14-year-old Qusai Radwan Yousef Waked today around 3 p.m. near Jenin refugee camp in the northern occupied West Bank. The Israeli sniper fired the bullet that struck Qusai in the abdomen from a distance of 550 meters (1804 feet). pic.twitter.com/DSQE6rWFat
— Defense for Children (@DCIPalestine) February 12, 2023
When you live–or should I say, die–in Palestine, you have the knowledge that every day, every second the Israeli army may put a bullet through your head or the head or your children. For a reason or no reason. Merely on a whim. I don’t think any of us can truly appreciate that. I had an argument with my son. It was painful. But in the scheme of things, so what? At least he is alive. When he goes to school in the morning I know he will come home in the afternoon. I don’t wait with bated breath, hoping he won’t be one of the victims.
To Israel and its apologists: if you want the children to stop throwing rocks or using pee-shooters to defend their towns and homes, stop invading them. Stop the tear gas. Stop the stun grenades. Stop the ransacked homes. Stop breaking in doors at 4am. Stop terrorizing. Live in peace. Be decent. Be human.
If you want the acts of terror to stop, end the Occupation. You can do it. But you refuse. So when your innocent and pure die, you have only yourselves to blame.
When I read stories like this I despair for humanity. It would have been better not to inflict such pain, suffering and barbarity on this planet. Why do we have such a capacity for evil? Why should such a species exist? If there is a Being or Force responsible for our creation It made a terrible mistake.
How is a Palestinian like a sack of garbage?
Today ,February 13th.
I was detained and beaten violently by an Israeli soldier in Hebron. I was showing the famous American writer lawrence wright @NewYorker @lawrence_wright the Israeli occupation and apartheid in my home town #Hebron. pic.twitter.com/Oel845CKtB
— Issa Amro عيسى عمرو 🇵🇸 (@Issaamro) February 13, 2023
No, I haven’t lost my mind and become a Palephobe. I watched a video a few hours ago that made me sick. Not the first video of its kind by any means. But this one was different, for reasons I’ll explain.
Issa Amro is one of the fiercest Palestinian fighters in the West Bank. Yet he has no gun. He throws no stone. He speaks clearly and directly, even to the Israeli soldier who spits in his eye (figuratively and literally). And they hate him for it. If he resisted physically; if he raised a hand, then they could kill him like a fly. But when he merely resists in words and spirit, they have no idea how to handle that. So they arrest him. They grab him by the throat and throw him on the pavement like a sack of garbage (see video). Anything to degrade and demean him to their low level. But they can’t do that. He won’t let them. He will retain his humanity no matter what the cost. And that enrages them further.
He lives in Hebron, the city with 25,000 Palestinian inhabitants and 750 of the most brutal Israeli settlers. An entire IDF unit must patrol the streets night and day to protect them. They forced the army to turn the city into a maze of checkpoints and a warren of cages designed to stop setters from throwing garbage and excrement on Palestinians walking on the street below.
The settlers are there because they believe that Judaism was born in this place. And it is their obligation to reclaim it so that they can bring the messiah. No one may stand in their way. Certainly not despicable Muslims. The Messiah will come. Even if they have to kill to make it so. They will do it and He will come.
Issa often leads groups of foreign and Israeli Jewish activists, along with journalists for tours of the Streets of Apartheid. Today, he was guiding New Yorker contributor and Pulitzer Prize-winner Lawrence Wright through Hebron. One particular soldier took a dislike to the scene he saw, of the hated Palestinian showing yet another foreigner the Occupation in all its ugliness. He tried to physically intimidate Amro by leaning into his body. It must be a tactic of humiliation they learn in basic [Occupation] training. Amro asked for him to call his commanding officer. That enraged the Israeli even more. He then grabbed him by the throat and threw him with full force onto the pavement. Issa lay there for a moment to collect his dignity and his body.
Here is Wright’s video of when things began to go bad:
Before the assault the other soldiers were afraid to intervene although I warned them it was getting out of hand. pic.twitter.com/TwJkSaO4OT
— Lawrence Wright (@lawrence_wright) February 14, 2023
The IDF is misrepresenting what led to assault on peace activist Issa Amro in Hebron yesterday. The soldier initiated the encounter. Amro did not curse or interfere only asked that he call the commander. Nothing to justify the attack that followed. pic.twitter.com/2nxCD2jXjc
— Lawrence Wright (@lawrence_wright) February 14, 2023
I never had a source assaulted in front of me until today when an Israeli soldier who stopped my interview did this with a Palestinian peace activist Issa Amro in Hebron. I can’t stop thinking how dehumanizing the occupation is on the young soldiers charged with enforcing it. pic.twitter.com/Qrsa1UJsfA
— Lawrence Wright (@lawrence_wright) February 13, 2023
Wright posted the tweets and videos above about the incident, which I’ve embedded here. Though of course he defended Issa, there was something fundamental missing. Simply, he is a liberal Zionist. He does not understand Israeli state terrorism. He certainly can’t acknowledge that it exists. He believes that the bad thing he witnessed is a discrete event. Maybe he even concedes that its part of a system of Occupation. But that isn’t enough. It is far more and far worse than that.
And why spend any energy refuting the lies spewed by the army after they commit one atrocity or another? Of course, Issa didn’t curse the soldier or interfere with him. Just the opposite as the video proves. And any fool knows it. So why does Wright offer facts and evidence as if that somehow will make things right? As if truth prevails and that makes everything OK.
There is no such thing as truth as far as the IDF is concerned. There are interests and words which serve those interests. Truth doesn’t enter into it. While it lies in individual incidents like this one, virtually its entire existence is built on a lie: a perpetual war machine serving the garrison state. War serves its interests.
Every single word out of the mouth of the IDF is a lie. They don’t speak a word of truth when they face international opprobrium. That must be the only rule to understand in dealing with it.
Returning to Wright’s tweets, he calls Issa a “source.” Of course, journalists think of humans who are their resources for telling stories, as sources. But when they become victims because of you, then they are no longer sources. They are humans and deserve to be called humans. Even more importantly (and he’s been raked over the coals on Twitter for this), his first impulse after this vicious assault was to bemoan the “dehumanizing occupation.” Those of us on the left stopped using such terms years, if not decades ago. The Occupation is far worse than dehumanizing. It is state terrorism. It is mass murder. And of course, it is apartheid.
But most important of all, is that the Occupation isn’t The Thing that is bad. Fixing or ending it is not a solution. Even if you ended the Occupation (which Israel has rejected for decades), you would still have an apartheid state within the Green Line. And if you did have a Palestinian state (again, utterly impossible) it would be a crippled, impoverished, dysfunctional entity unable to defend or even govern itself. Through no fault of its own. But because Israel wants it to be so and will make it so.
Further, Wright’s first impulse is to consider the “young soldier’s” dehumanization by the Occupation he must enforce. This is, once again, the delusion of liberal Zionism. It’s the Occupation, stupid! It corrupts. It dehumanizes. It turns decent human beings into brutes.
No. Let’s say it here clearly. It’s NOT the Occupation. It is the entire Israeli system and state that is irredeemably corrupt. Both materially and politically. The entire Israeli state is predicated on apartheid, mass violence, and war crimes. Don’t visit Hebron as Wright does and think you understand the whole system. Bad as it is there, you must understand it in its entirety to know how evil it is.
Showing sympathy for the young recruit, especially at the expense of the Palestinian who bravely took you through the Hebron hellscape, is misguided. Do we feel sympathy for the young Wehrmacht soldiers impressed into service in the last desperate days of the Reich? Do they deserve our pity? No, because they accepted the burden placed upon them by the Nazi state. They committed the crimes against humanity ordered by their commanders. Hitler was guiltiest. But all Germans who served the Reich were guilty.
That Israeli soldier deserves no pity. He may be brainwashed by the ethos of the garrison state whose values are imprinted from an early age. But as a human being, he has agency. He is not a robot. Though rejecting the service of evil is almost impossibly difficult in Israel considering the ostracism and imprisonment facing military refusers, we all have choices. He made his willingly, even enthusiastically. So he and every Israeli should pay the price for it.