Thursday, January 22, 2009

'We have become the racists ourselves'

How Israel drowns dissent
The Guardian: Firefighters turned their hoses on a peaceful anti-war protester last week... Their actions were, while wholly illegal, none the less emblematic of a massive shift in Israeli public opinion over the last few years, according to Sharon Dolev, the woman on the receiving end of the assault... "We used to hold signs at protests reading 'The occupation will corrupt' ... Now, we can see that it has [come to pass]. As a society, we have lost our ability to see clearly; we have let fear blind us. Once, calling someone a racist was the harshest accusation you could make. Later, you began to hear people say 'I know I'm a racist, but...'; nowadays [during Cast Lead], we heard 'I know I'm talking like a Nazi, but at least the Nazis knew how to deal with their enemies.'" ... She believes that history has come full circle, and that instead of learning the lessons of the Holocaust, "we have become the racists ourselves."

The Guardian: Yitzchak Ben Mocha: 'In the past the army used to put refuseniks in jail for weeks. When they were released, sometimes they would be arrested again and this would go on for months. But now it seems the army doesn't want to admit publicly there are refuseniks... It would to against the image of the whole army and country united.'... No'em Levna, a first lieutenant in the Israeli army, was sent to a military prison for 14 days. 'Killing innocent civilians cannot be justified,' he said. 'Nothing justifies this kind of killing.'...

[Ben Mocha] says he joined the Israeli army believing he would be fighting 'terror organisations,' He found himself suppressing Palestinian aspirations for freedom and putting down protests of Palestinian farmers 'against the incontinent theft of their lands.' He also saw abuses, such as Israeli troops sending Palestinian women and children into houses to ensure they were not booby-trapped, and using civilians as human shields. 'I am not a pacifist. I recognise the necessity of Israel to have a strong defensive army but I'm no longer going to play a part in 40 years of occupation. I told the army I will report for training so that I can always be ready to defend Israel, but attacking Gaza and perpetuating occupation is not defending Israel.'...

Recently the military has preferred to pretend simply that dissenters don't exist -- as hundreds of soldiers and reservists signed petitions refusing to enforce the occupation. The government was particularly embarrassed when 27 pilots said they would no longer carry out killings of Palestinian leaders in Gaza, and when a group of elite commandos refused to serve in the occupied territories.

[Ben Mocha] is disturbed that most of the Israeli public and much of the media is blind to the fact that hundreds of Palestinians have been cut to pieced by Israeli fire power. 'In the long run, it's not a war of defence... In the long run, we are creating more terror.'