Unless the situation worsens, I plan to be in Israel two weeks from now, and I expect that after I get back I’ll have more to say about this powerful cri de coeur from one Tel Aviv resident, blogger Noam Sheizaf. For now, I’m just passing along some excerpts. The whole piece, from the Israeli website +972, is well worth reading.
Why I Object to this Military Campaign, Even as Missiles Fall on my City
Even today, when rockets are exploding above the city I love most in the world, even when we rush into our apartment building’s stairwell and march downstairs along with the neighbors to the bicycle room that has been turned into a makeshift bomb shelter. Even now, I oppose this military operation wholeheartedly. The sight of the IAF’s attack helicopters crossing the sky, going south along the Tel Aviv coastline does not fill me with pride or gratitude – it horrifies and depresses me.
….I still cannot get used to the unshakable consensus that takes hold of the Israeli public. I would still like to believe that this whole thing is a misunderstanding, and that if my own people would only give some more thought to the reality in the occupied territories, they would change their mind overnight. I want to believe that they don’t fully grasp the nature of the occupation, which is why they are so enraged by whatever the Palestinians do. This mindset leads to yet another violent Israeli response, which only paves the way for the next escalation….
If I had to explain the whole thing briefly, I would use the following metaphor: we’ve built two giant prisons. Let’s call them “West Bank Prison” and “Gaza Prison.” The West Bank Prison is similar to a minimum security facility, where prisoners get to run their own affairs as long as they behave. They are entitled to vacations from time to time and once a year they are even taken to the beach. Some lucky people get below-minimum-wage jobs in nearby factories, and when you consider the low prices in the prison canteen, it’s actually not a bad deal.
Gaza, on the other hand, is a maximum security facility. It is difficult to visit and impossible to leave. We allow in essential food, water and electricity so that the prisoners don’t die. Apart from that, we don’t really care about them – that is unless they approach the prison fence; or the “forbidden” perimeter, where anyone who wanders too close is shot; or if they try to throw something over the fence.
Indeed, they occasionally throw some homemade bombs made of things they’ve managed to smuggle into prison, and when they fall on our heads it really is unpleasant. So we send our snipers to the watchtowers built around the prison and shoot them like fish in a barrel until they calm down. And when they finally do calm down, we cease firing because we are not the kind of bastards who shoot people for fun….
The prison facilities now hold a total of 3.5 million people – an entire nation – all sentenced to life. Under such conditions, prisoners can turn to desperate measures, such as suicide missions, digging long tunnels or swimming miles and storming our tanks with their old rifles. Often it ends up with a killing that looks like it was taken from some old video game. On the rare occasions that they do kill one of the guards, they hold celebrations in the prison and we become even more sickened by them. This, of course, also causes us to fear the day that they find a way to break down the walls.
I believe the prisoners will never love those who have locked them up, but there is a good chance that their children might – if for no other reason than a desire to move on with their lives. Naturally, there is only one way for this healing process to begin, and it has nothing to do with the fish and the barrel approach.
Hold your fire. Tear down the prison walls. Set the prisoners free.