Ha’aretz 8 oktober


Permission to kill


                               By Yitzhak Laor



                               On Sunday, November 30, 1972, British paratroops attempted to

                               prevent a march for human rights in the Northern Ireland city of Derry

                               on the basis of a judicial order making the Catholic march illegal. That

                               Sunday ended in the massacre of 14 demonstrators. Bloody Sunday

                               will never be erased from the blood-drenched history of the

                               Anglo-Irish struggle. The British are still studying the events that took

                               place that day in Derry's working-class neighborhoods.The massacre

                               of Palestinians in recent days will be with us for many years, not only

                               because it won the full backing of the media - Israel Television led the

                               favorable coverage, but the entire Israeli press followed in the

                               footsteps of the holiday-eve television reports. The old instincts came

                               into play: criticism of the Israel Defense Forces is prohibited, because

                               the IDF - God - acted this time as well.


                               The IDF did not defend Israel. Israel was not in danger. Permission to

                               kill has become "self-evident" even when it comes to defending the

                               thorn-in-the-side settlement of Netzarim. It is permissible to kill a

                               child in the arms of his father and to afterward deny that killing

                               "because he had no reason to be there." It is permissible to shoot

                               missiles at demonstrators, because at stake is not just defense of the

                               state or its citizens, but a "principle": one does not surrender to

                               violence. It is permissible to use violence to make others surrender.

                               And as usual, in summing up the entire event, human life is important

                               only when the human is not Arab.


                               The Israeli "self-evident" proposition worked overtime. The masses of

                               Palestinian demonstrators had the privilege to be shot at with live

                               ammunition and earned strong denunciations from the entire Israeli

                               media. "What can you do?" as if it were self-evident that live

                               ammunition be used to end such a struggle, as if it were obvious that

                               "we are all united" in demanding those liters of blood.


                               In exactly the same way, the closure of roads from Lake Kinneret to

                               the center of the country gave the right to treat the country's Arab

                               citizens as if they were children in the heart of the colonial wilderness

                               of the end of the 19th century, as if we had not seen the television

                               footage of truck and taxi drivers in Europe blocking roads on the

                               Continent to the point of totally paralyzing the economy, without a

                               single shot being fired. The press and the establishment stood up for

                               the "policeman of the Arabs," Police Major-General Alik Ron. In any

                               civilized country he would have been forced out long ago, if only for

                               his racist statements about the mayor of Umm al Fahm and head of

                               the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Ra'ed Salah:

                               "Sheikh Ra'ed has a fertile, Middle Eastern imagination."


                               But one can look for the background to the great massacre of these

                               terrible Days of Awe in the place where the great silence of the media

                               and the academic establishment can always be found: the main thing is

                               who is governing us when such things occur. If Benjamin Netanyahu

                               were prime minister now, we would have already heard cries to the

                               heavens, or at least some tough questions. This war is being waged by

                               the government of Prime Minister Ehud Barak, "our" government, of

                               "the left." And so, for the sake of peace of course, since after all

                               everything is for the sake of peace, everything is permitted.


                               The signal was given and the ground prepared for this horror after the

                               collapse of the Camp David talks. Out-and-out "doves" gave

                               interviews and wrote articles: Yasser Arafat, chairman of the

                               Palestinian Authority, betrayed them, Heaven forbid. They always

                               wanted peace, they paid a heavy price for peace, and now, when the

                               Palestinians could get from them the best peace that could be given to

                               them (that is, without quarreling with the settlers, without causing a

                               "rift within the people," without dissolving the coalition, without giving

                               up the "dreams of sanctity" that were born in the five historical minutes

                               that preceded the negotiations), Arafat - that is, the Palestinian people

                               - turns his back on them, the cooing doves, and listens to the yearning

                               of his hard-pressed people, without water or work, crowded

                               between bypass roads and sanctified settlements, because everyone

                               knows that "Beit El is the eyes of the country," or whatever organ it is

                               the latest trite metaphor.


                               How easy it is to beat your breast in contrition this Yom Kippur,

                               when the fist lands on the chest of your neighbor, Arafat or Ariel

                               Sharon. And you, your hands did not spill this blood, your hands did

                               not fire missiles at demonstrators, your voice did not denounce