Originally posted in Hebrew, on 31.7.2010 | Translation by Dena Shunra
The Shabak recently released to the press the details of the capture of a man who claims to have killed several Palestinians (with a 12 year delay!) and declared its intention to bring him to justice. A while before that, the capture of another Jewish terrorist was announced; this one is suspected of having carried out several terrorist attacks over the course of 13 years(!), primarily against Arabs. In cases such as these, the Israeli press and politicians are quick to express their horror and astonishment, as well as their disgust with his actions, and go on to describe the existence of a Jewish terrorist as a surprising finding, as though it was a rare animal, in danger of extinction.
Anyone reading the coverage of these arrests in the Israeli press could get the mistaken impression that the phenomenon of hurting innocent Arabs is truly one that is rare and ill-thought of, and that when it happens the law is enforced with conviction and true horror. In fact, though, doing harm to Arabs is a most common phenomenon in Israel, especially in the Occupied Territories, and the Internet is full of media evidence. Moreover, the handling of such violations (when enforcement actually occurs) is negligent, forgiving, understanding, or non-existent (In fact, the Palestinians have long-since lost faith in the Israeli system, and most of them no longer even bother to file complaints.)
The arrest of two of the Jewish terrorists shows us, if anything, not the rarity of the crime and the extent of the horror of it, but rather the extent to which this was delayed, and the arbitrariness of the “catch”. Barely putting their hands on a terrorist or two (despite the abundance of testimony and opportunities to arrest miscreants, for example, during their frequent pogroms against Arabs) while in the Occupied Territories – with or without the “price tag” riots – settlers and soldiers engage in daily violence against innocent and helpless denizens. And it was proven time and again, that even if these terrorists were brought to trial, they will surely be given ridiculous sentences (if at all) and/or amnesty, as did every other such criminal, before them.
And The Earth Was Filled With Crocodile Tears
It is hard to refrain from amazement at the over-acted astonishment and horror and faux-surprise, expressed in Israeli media and society at large, every time a new suspected killer of Arabs is apprehended. As if “the terrorist” had grown up in a society where “moral conduct” had not become synonymous with naïve “bleeding hearts” and “do gooders”, as if he had not been raised in a state which teaches the killing of innocent Arabs as a heritage of heroism, and as if the Israeli systems of justice and law enforcement actually extended the long arm of the law to lay hands on most of the murderers and rioters. If that was really the case, it would have been reasonable to expect that acts of terrorism against Arabs would not only be roundly denounced but that the state would also provide education and explain what it is that makes such acts unacceptable.
In practice, however, reality is entirely different. Testimony to this is the education of the Irgun Heritage (AKA Etzel) as something to look up to, a heritage which reveres and boasts of an organization which carried out a long line of terrorist operations (and still proudly boasts of them). Not only that the Etzel does not horrify the Israelis at all -it is also practically accepted as part of our national ethos and pantheon.
In contrast to common view of the Lehi being more extremist than the Irgun, it was the Irgun and not the Lehi that systematically targeted innocent Arab civilians. Remember the terrible attacks in the Jerusalem markets, in the nineties? Well, the fact is that the Etzel had invented the bringing of bombs to big-city markets (as a revenge, just like the “price tag” revenge operations, but even more violent). They did so with a series of explosive attacks, which they carried out in the markets of Jaffa, Jerusalem, and Haifa in the 1930’s. Each of the explosive attacks killed several or dozens of by passers, and wounded dozens or hundreds. Irgun members were also involved in other “operations”, such as the murder of Arabs in Jerusalem near Petach Tikva and near Safad, throwing bombs onto passers-by in Haifa, arson attacks on Arab homes in Jerusalem, attacks on the Kerem Hateimanim neighborhood between Tel Aviv and Jaffa, attacks of the train, and the massacres at Deir Yassin, Balad Alsheikh, at the village of Hittin and others – in quite a systematic manner. (This is not to consign to oblivion the fact that the Hagana and Palmach operations were also morally quite questionable.)
It is with complete hypocrisy that the “horrified” State of Israel invests so much money in ceremonies, museums, commemorative actions and education “in the spirit of the resistance fighters”, which present Etzel members as freedom fighters, with no limitation or reference to the fact that a significant part of their activity was clearly nothing more or less than terrorism.
Educational projects of the IDF bring many young people to the Irgun Museum (in the Jabotinsky Institute, AKA Metzudat Ze’ev), the Etzel Museum (in Manashiyya), the Irgun Headquarters, the Museum(s) of Underground prisoners, etc., all in order to bask in the glow of the pioneer-warriors, and learn that the Irgun has a place of honor in the national heritage of might. And not only soldiers are taught to glorify the murderers. A decision was taken recently to teach schoolchildren about the “Olei Hagardom” martyrs, who went to the gallows, and teenagers who do a good enough job of describing the murderers as heroes can win competitions and receive state-funded grants from the Ministry of Education.
If murderers of Jews were studied in the Palestinian education system, with prize-bearing competitions included, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs would have gone out of its way to put pressure on countries around the world to make any grants to the Palestinian Authority conditional on a cessation of the incitement. But here?… Streets have been named after the murderers, as though they were models of true heroism – and that’s before we even mention later murderers, and those who were granted amnesty.
The Irgun is, of course, only one example of the Israeli forbearance toward murder and terrorism, as long as they are directed towards Arabs. While we complain about the unethical stance of the Palestinians and scold them, our national ethos is full of countless examples of murder and terrorism. And while we are horrified at the sick attacks of unarmed civilians, we have been maintaining a military regime for 43 years, a strangulating siege dedicated to starving the affected population, demolishing homes and whole villages, and ignoring the violence of settlers – all to apply political pressure by means of violence against innocent civilians. We persistently ignore reports and information presented to us, wave aside the testimony brought forth by soldiers, drop any mention of the various crimes from the curriculum (and finally, we shoot the messenger(s)). So truly, why would anyone be surprised that there are Jewish terrorists?
In fact, the role of the loud and overstated condemnation and the resounding astonishment is not to represent our disgust with the facts that we hear but rather, to let them remain unspoken. It is only in this way that the mainstream can appear cleansed and pure, in an attempt to clear the state and the public at large of the ignominy of the perpetration of hate-crimes which – to tell the full truth – is so very common among us.