What Had to Be Proved

The seizure of the Palestinian arms ship brings great relief because the terrible weaponry will not be aimed at Israelis, as well as a sense of gratitude toward the soldiers who participated in the mission. However, in the voices of spokesmen for the Israel Defense Forces, the government and the media there was also an unconcealed note of joy that at long last “final proof” has been found of the Palestinians criminal, terrible intentions.

Ostensibly, it has become clear beyond a shadow of doubt that “the Palestinian Authority is infested with terror from head to toe,” as Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz said at the press conference that seemed to be an attempt to bring back for a moment the glory of the heroic 1950s, if not of Entebbe itself.

But what proof has been obtained here? Proof that if you oppress a people for 35 years, and humiliate its leaders, and harass its population, and do not give them a glimmer of hope, the members of this people will try to assert themselves in any way possible? And would any of us behave differently from the Palestinians in such a situation? And did we behave any differently when for years we were under occupation and tyranny?

Avshalom Feinberg and Yosef Lishansky set out for Cairo to bring money from there to the Nili underground so that the Jewish community in Palestine could assert itself against the Turks. The fighters of the Haganah, the Lehi and the Etzel underground movements collected and hid as many weapons as they could, and their splendid sliks (arms caches) are to this day a symbol of the fight for survival and the longing for liberty, as were the daring weapons acquisition missions during the British Mandate (which were defined by the British as acts of terror).

When “we” did these things, they were not terrorist in nature. They were legitimate actions of a people fighting for its life and liberty. When the Palestinians do them, they become “proof” of everything we have been so keen to prove for years now.

It was embarrassing and irksome to hear the chief of staff scolding the Palestinians for “wasting their money on acquiring arms instead of seeing to their poor and hungry populace” – the words of a man whose soldiers – who follow the government’s instructions – harass Palestinians morning, noon and night, impoverish them and starve them. No less embarrassing was the journalistic reporting of the seizure of the ship. The correspondents, excited by the heroism of our soldiers, unanimously adopted the self-righteous declarations of the chief of staff and the prime minister about the Palestinians and their murderousness and the terrorism that burns in their breasts like a second nature, almost.

Now come the days of celebration and rejoicing because “we told you so”: We told you that the Palestinians do not keep agreements (while we of course stick to every agreement); we told you that they will do everything possible to acquire attack weapons (while we aim narcissus stems at the windows of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s window in Ramallah); we told you that there is no one to talk to and therefore we should keep tightening the noose around their necks (and in this way undoubtedly we will bring about a profound change in the “Palestinian character,” so that they will agree to accept all our conditions); we told you that Arafat is in fact bin Laden (and we are disciples of the Dalai Lama).

In the attempt to smuggle in the arms by ship, the Palestinians seriously violated the agreements with them and the IDF must, of course, do all it can to prevent such escalation. Nevertheless, how can an entire people’s sense of judgement be so dulled? How can we repeatedly ignore the big picture and the sharp sense that Israel, in its actions and in its failures to act, and especially in the malevolent behavior of its prime minister, keeps pushing the Palestinians to such actions so that time after time they will provide us with that “incontrovertible proof,” in which there is in fact no real benefit to our interests?

These are disgusting days. Days of total befuddlement of the senses. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will wring every possible drop of propaganda out of this ship. The media, for the most part, will run panting after him. The Israeli street, too exhausted and apathetic to think, will adopt any definite conclusion that will solve for it the internal and moral contradiction in which it lives and reinforce its sense of righteousness, which has been undermined at its base.

Who has the strength these days to remember the beginning, the root of the matter, the circumstances, the fact that what we have here is occupation and oppression, reaction and counter-reaction, a vicious circle and a bloody circle, two peoples that are becoming corrupt, violent and crazy with despair, a death trap in which we are suffocating more with every passing day?

http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=114100&contrassID= &s ubContrassID=4&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y

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