On a recent visit to Israel, Philip Weiss decided to look at how the prolonged occupation of the West Bank and the cruel treatment by the Israeli government of Palestinians who live in the occupied territories and the West Bank has affected Jews living in Israel and what he finds is not encouraging. It is a long piece that features the things he saw and the conversations he had.
These pictures summarize the inescapable facts of Israel’s existence: half the population under its sovereign authority live without rights or with second class citizenship, they’re angry about that, sometimes they resist; and therefore Israelis are armed to the teeth and live in fear. And, it’s permanent: Israelis have no clue how to change the situation. Guns are everywhere in Jerusalem, and people are nervous. It’s no surprise there have been so many extrajudicial executions by Israeli soldiers and border police. They’re on a hair trigger. My instinct when I saw the guns was always to get out of the way, and soon. I don’t have kids, but I can’t imagine raising kids in that environment.
Fear of Palestinians is what drives Israeli attitudes about the conflict; fear is what has produced 11 years of Benjamin Netanyahu’s premiereship, with his endless calls for more security; fear is what has destroyed the political left, from within. “We don’t want another people here. We want a Jewish state,” said Doron, a middle of the roader. Dahlia, a leftleaning woman, said, “We are wrong. But I don’t want them in my state. I am afraid of them.”
I found a love for Donald Trump almost everywhere I went. Even from a woman whose apartment I stayed in who is a member of the Zionist leftwing organization Hashomer Hatzair. “I don’t like his comments about women,” Anat* said. “But I like him, he is much better than Obama.” She pointed to journalist Amit Segal’s Facebook post summing up the difference between Trump and Obama: Obama came out and lectured Netanyahu about settlements and Jerusalem; but Trump came out and lectured Mahmoud Abbas about terror and incitement.
Anat recognized that she is growing callous. “Israel is becoming more racist and I feel it in myself.” She is afraid to go into the Muslim Quarter of the Old City because she looks Israeli, and she could be stabbed. “I used to care when I heard that Arabs were killed. Now not so much.”
Hate and fear. Fear and hate. A dangerous mix that makes people lose their humanity.