Tell a Palestinian that all the Israelis really want is to be a ‘light unto the nations’ and he will wonder why they demand so much darkness while they go about the business of tormenting the Palestinians. This week the American government finally joined the Europeans in requesting that observers be allowed to monitor the violence of the Israeli occupation. As expected, the Israeli government refused to allow objective officials from neutral countries to peek in on the routine day to day brutality that their army inflicts on the native inhabitants of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
The Israelis are fully aware of what an outside observer will see. They have a lot to hide from the outside world. An optimist might actually be encouraged that they are ashamed enough to want to hide their activities from inquiring eyes. But I seriously doubt it has anything to do with remorse. Covering up the daily acts of Israeli ‘restraint’ is half the battle. For five decades the Israelis have gotten accustomed to getting away with murder. Indeed they have never failed to do whatever they believe they can get away with. As long as they can effectively market their policies in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, New York and Washington, they care nothing about what other nations think of their disgusting and callous behavior towards the native people of the Holy Land.
Consider that one out of every dozen Israelis is either in the army or the reserves. It is a rare adult male citizen of Tel Aviv who does not understand the amount of repression that is daily visited on the Palestinians. Many Israelis have personally participated in implementing a thirty-four year government policy of humiliating the Palestinians, annexing their lands and killing, maiming and jailing their young. Their daddies murdered Palestinians and eradicated their villages and a majority of them seem quite content with carrying on family traditions. After all, they elected a notorious war criminal, Ariel Sharon, with the expectation that he would intensify the violence of the occupation and put down the Palestinian independence uprising. There is no shortage of Sharon’s willing executioners. You have to be death, dumb and blind to not be aware of the ruthless nature of the Israeli occupation and the vicious behavior of both Israeli troops and settlers.
One of the tools the Israelis are very fond of is torture. So, it comes as a real shock to them that the Danes will not accept a confessed torturer as Israeli ambassador. Shimon Peres is genuinely outraged that Gillon, the ex-chief of the Shin Bet, is being rejected not only by the Danish government, but by the majority of Danish citizens. Next thing you know, Sharon will be convicted of being a war criminal in Belgium. Israelis are annoyed that their atrocities against the Palestinians are considered criminal activity by many governments in the world.
In Italy, the riots at the G-8 summit resulted in the fatal shooting of one protester. As in other truly democratic civil societies, the Italian authorities will have to answer for their use of lethal force. Similar protests, in Montreal, not all of them peaceful, did not result in a single fatality. Compare that to the hundreds of Palestinians who have been killed and the thousands who have been maimed by Israeli occupation troops.
Israeli army troops need to be monitored; if only to allow for clear historic documentation of the daily assaults against Palestinian lives and property. Israelis and their supporters in the American Jewish community are the kind of people who can look you straight in the eye and ‘explain the need for collective punishment and extra-judicial assassinations.’ They are incapable of restraining their worst instincts. A loud and clear message needs to be sent to Israeli soldiers and their generals that they will be held individually responsible for their activities in the occupied territories.
This week, the Israeli government finally hired a Belgian lawyer to defend Sharon. They also advised their military officers to be careful which European countries they travel to. Israelis appear to be finally getting the message that they have no special immunity from international laws. Individual Israelis who participated in torturing and murdering Palestinians are finally starting to appreciate the tremendous legal strides in international law. First, Pinochet. Next came Milosovic. Sharon’s train just came in. He will not be the only Israeli getting a one-way ticket to the Hague.