Monday, August 2, 2010

Israel's 'grinning teens' cheer destruction

The 'Summer Camp of Destruction:' Israeli High Schoolers Assist The Razing of a Bedouin Town
Max Blumenthal: On July 26, Israeli police demolished 45 buildings in the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Arakib, razing the entire village to the ground to make way for a Jewish National Fund forest. The destruction was part of a larger project to force the Bedouin community of the Negev away from their ancestral lands and into seven Indian reservation-style communities the Israeli government has constructed for them. The land will then be open for Jewish settlers... The Israeli government intends to uproot as many villages as possible and erase them from the map by establishing 'facts on the ground' in the form of JNF forests. (See video of al-Arakib's demolition here.)

One of the most troubling aspects of the destruction of al-Arakib was a report by CNN that the hundreds of Israeli riot police who stormed the village were accompanied by 'busloads of cheering civilians.' Who were these civilians?... High school students who appeared to have volunteered... Prior to the demolitions, the student volunteers were sent into the villagers' homes to extract their furniture and belongings... The volunteers smashed windows and mirrors in their homes and defaced family photographs with crude drawings. Then they lounged around on the furniture of al-Arakib residents in plan sight of the owners. Finally... the volunteers celebrated while bulldozers destroyed the homes. 'What we learned from the summer camp of destruction, 'Abu Madyam remarked, 'is that Israeli youth are not being educated on democracy, they are being raised on racism.'

The Israeli civilian guard, which incorporates 70,000 citizens including youth as young as 15 (about 15% percent of Israeli volunteers are teenagers) is one of many programs designed to incorporate Israeli children into the state's military apparatus... The volunteers' behaviour toward Bedouins, who are citizens of Israel and serve loyally in Israeli army combat units despite widespread racism, was strikingly reminiscent of the behavior of settler youth in Hebron who pelt Palestinian shopkeepers in the old city with eggs, rocks and human waster. If there is a distinction between the two cases, it is that the Hebron settlers act as vigilantes while the teenagers of Israeli civilian guard vandalize Arab property as agents of the state...

The widespread indoctrination of Israeli youth by the military apparatus is a central factor in Israel's authoritarian trend... The scenes from al-Arakib, from the demolished homes to the uprooted gardens to the grinning teens who joined the mayhem, can be viewed as much more than the destruction of a village. They are snapshots of the phenomenon that is laying Israeli society as a whole to waste.
Image source here.