August 31, 2006

In News

By Amira Hass

Let us leave aside those Israelis whose ideology supports the
dispossession of the Palestinian people because “God chose us.” Leave
aside the judges who whitewash every military policy of killing and
destruction. Leave aside the military commanders who knowingly jail an
entire nation in pens surrounded by walls, fortified observation towers,
machine guns, barbed wire and blinding projectors. Leave aside the
ministers. All of these are not counted among the collaborators. These
are the architects, the planners, the designers, the executioners.

But there are others. Historians and mathematicians, senior editors,
media stars, psychologists and family doctors, lawyers who do not
support Gush Emunim and Kadima, teachers and educators, lovers of hiking
trails and sing-alongs, high-tech wizards. Where are you? And what
about you, researchers of Nazism, the Holocaust and Soviet gulags?
Could you all be in favor of systematic discriminating laws? Laws
stating that the Arabs of the Galilee will not even be compensated for
the damages of the war by the same sums their Jewish neighbors are
entitled to (Aryeh Dayan, Haaretz , August 21).

Could it be that you are all in favor of a racist Citizenship Law that
forbids an Israeli Arab from living with his family in his own home?
That you side with further expropriation of lands and the demolishing of
additional orchards, for another settler neighborhood and another
exclusively Jewish road? That you all back the shelling and missile fire
killing the old and the young in the Gaza Strip?

Could it be that you all agree that a third of the West Bank (the Jordan
Valley) should be off limits to Palestinians? That you all side with an
Israeli policy that prevents tens of thousands of Palestinians who have
obtained foreign citizenship from returning to their families in the
occupied territories?

Could your mind really be so washed with the security excuse, used to
forbid Gaza students from studying occupational therapy at Bethlehem and
medicine at Abu Dis, and preventing sick people from Rafah from
receiving medical treatment in Ramallah? Will also you find it easy to
hide behind the explanation “we had no idea”: we had no idea that the
discrimination practiced in the distribution of water – which is solely
controlled by Israel – leaves thousands of Palestinian households
without water during the hot summer months; we had no idea that when the
IDF blocks the entrance to villages, it also blocks their access to
springs or water tanks.

But it cannot be that you don’t see the iron gates along route 344 in
the West Bank, blocking access to it from the Palestinian villages it
passes by. It cannot be that you support preventing the access of
thousands of farmers to their land and plantations, that you support the
quarantine on Gaza which prevents the entry of medicine for hospitals,
the disruption of electricity and water supply to 1.4 million human
beings, closing their only outlet to the world for months.

Could it be that you do not know what is happening 15 minutes from your
faculties and offices? Is it plausible that you support the system in
which Hebrew soldiers, at checkpoints in the heart of the West Bank, are
letting tens of thousands of people wait everyday for hours upon hours
under the blazing sun, while selecting: residents of Nablus and Tul Karm
are not allowed through, 35-year-olds and under – yallah, back to
Jenin, residents of the Salem village are not even allowed to be here,
a sick woman who skipped the line must learn a lesson and will be
purposefully detained for hours. Machsom Watch’s site is available for
all; in it are countless such testimonies and worse, a day by day
routine. But it cannot be that those who are appalled over every
swastika painted on a Jewish grave in France and over every
anti-Semitic headline in a Spanish local newspaper will not know how to
reach this information, and will not be appalled and outraged.

As Jews we all enjoy the privilege Israel gives us, what makes us all
collaborators. The question is what does every one of us do in an active
and direct daily manner to minimize cooperation with a dispossessing,
suppressing regime that never has its fill. Signing a petition and
tutting will not do. Israel is a democracy for its Jews. We are not in
danger of our lives, we will not be jailed in concentration camps, our
livelihood will not be damaged and recreation in the countryside or
abroad will not be denied to us. Therefore, the burden of collaboration
and direct responsibility is immeasurably heavy.