Guest Post: "Ordinary Israelis" Do Know...
After reading Mondoweiss's story about how Israeli textbooks prepare Israeli children for the brutalities of army service and the strong support the majority of Israelis expressed for the murderous attack on Gaza in '08/09, I had to comment with this:
As a corollary to this story's reference to the 97% of Israelis who supported the attack on Gaza in 2008/09, I have to share an epiphany I had while in Palestine last year.
We were constantly told, mostly by progressive Israelis, that "the people don't know" what is happening in Palestine. That they "don't know" about the cruelties of the occupation and the savagery of the soldiers. They "don't know" how children are tormented, false arrests routinely made and how soldiers torment people at checkpoints. About the brutality and savagery of the illegal settlers, and how those settlers are able to commit almost any crime they wish against Palestinians, without risk of arrest or legal action against them.
Then I thought about the Israeli policy that most Israelis ("ordinary people") must serve the nation in some way and that is most often in the Army, with the Israeli Occupation Forces. And that most of that army service is done in the "Occupied Territories". All of those soldiers either participate in these cruelties, or listen to their comrades talking about them - and a good listen to Breaking the Silence will confirm this. Aaron, from Breaking the Silence, said to us "you cannot serve in the Occupied Territories and be a good person."
So, all of those soldiers return home to their lives, their jobs. They're teachers, waiters, lawyers, truck drivers, doctors, students, shop keepers. These "ordinary people" go about their lives until the next year, when they have to serve again.
While they are in Israel, they are indeed "ordinary people". And they DO know what is going on in Palestine, for nearly every one of them has either participated in that criminal behaviour, or watched it happen and said nothing. Some of them speak out after their term of service is done, but most of them just keep going home, to continue their lives as "ordinary people", leaving behind them devastated lives, injured people, crippled and tormented children. They ALL know! And they support those cruelties, the savagery, as you saw by the polls during Operation Cast Lead.
Let's not fool ourselves - "ordinary" Israelis know very well what is being done in their name and most of them are just fine with it.