24 May 2013
PALESTINE REFLECTION: Free Israel from itself
by a member of CPT al-Khalil (Hebron)
on a low cement wall near a checkpoint our team monitors daily reads ‘Free Israel’.
It seems intended to rebuff the ‘Free Palestine’ that appears on many walls in the old city.
Palestine means saving Palestine from being occupied, freeing children from
being arrested on their way to school, saving homes and farms from demolition,
saving fishermen in Gaza from being shot while trying to make a living.
Israel brings to my mind freeing Israel from itself. As Israeli journalist Gideon
Levy says, true friends of Israel criticize Israel’s wrongs.
May, Israel announced that it will legalize four illegal settlement
outposts. All West Bank settlements are illegal under
international law. Settlement outposts are illegal even under Israeli law —
until Israel legalizes them.
A 19-year-old Israeli arrested for the eighth time last April
for refusing to serve in the army told The Guardian that the
Israeli government was “not
interested in finding a solution to the existing situation, but rather in
preserving it…. We will talk of deterrence, we will kill some terrorist, we
will lose some civilians on both sides, and we will prepare the ground for a
new generation full of hatred on both sides…. We, as citizens and human beings,
have a moral duty to refuse to participate in this cynical game.” “The
occupation was supposed to be temporary, but now no one speaks of it ending,” he added.
This young man has been jailed for over 100 days for daring to question the
militarization of Israeli society and the ethics of Operation Cast Lead (the 2008-9
ground invasion and bombing of Gaza) and Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
At the 16 May communion at Sabeel (an ecumenical Liberation Theology
centre), I had the honour of meeting Mordechai Vanunu,
whom Israel imprisoned for seventeen years, twelve in solitary confinement, for speaking
out about Israel’s nuclear weapons programme. Nine years after his release he remains
confined. Israeli authorities won’t give him his passport and he faces
Every month Israeli soldiers kill Palestinians.
After young Palestinians were killed in January, Avner Gvaryahu, a member of Breaking the Silence (a group of Israeli
soldiers who confess their human rights violations), explained how Israeli soldiers are trained to
see all Palestinians as targets, which leads to fatal shootings of Palestinians
who pose no real threat to Israelis.
He said this mentality “explains why over the past
decade, orders have been given to open fire on civilians and rescue crews.
There is no unit or area in the territories where such incidents have not
occurred…. In this way, the army systematically harms all the Palestinians and
attempts to create a compliant society that can be easily controlled…. [E]ven a
Palestinian demonstrating for equality and independence is as frightening as an
armed Palestinian, if not more so.” Who
knows how these
policies of militarization, discrimination and alienation will shape Israel’s future?
I hope for peace. Peace cannot come without justice. For
justice to come, friends of Israel must denounce Israel’s misdeeds. Only when
the USA and the EU speak out will things start to change.