the oft lamented, near demise of the peace camp in Israel has become the
subject of current debate-whether in disappointment, anger or in horror,
some heroic stories still persist in defying the prevailing
of Peres and Ben Eliezer are no longer the objects of amazement and
condemnation, since they have proven their turncoat, opportunistic bents
beyond question, having
been willingly co-opted by the Sharon extremist government for both the
misleading spin and dirty tricks departments.
the ilks of Yossi Beilin and other Labor party "rebels" being
singled out for heroism in their desperate attempts to engineer
meetings, joint statements, and back-channel talks with Palestinian
heroes are those who rarely get mentioned in the Israeli, let alone
international, media as individuals of conscience who dare defy the
overwhelming discourse of hate, racism, and violence that seems to have
taken hold within and beyond the Israeli public.
than succumb to the ultra-nationalist, xenophobic version of popular
politics that attempts to rationalize the worst of Israeli measures
against the Palestinians while blaming the victims for the horrors being
inflicted upon them, this distinctive minority has dared to challenge
the lies and distortions and to take a stand despite the high price to
journalists, Amira Haas and Gideon Levy stand out as examples of courage
activists, the Women's Peace Coalition (including its many
organizations) has taken the forefront in defying the dangerous politics
of Sharon and his gang, taking to the streets in growing numbers. Women
like Neta Golan and Dafna Golan have maintained a steady commitment to
those principles of justice, peace, and human rights that seem to have
been swept away by the rising tide of hatred and destruction.
most persevering are long-time activists Leah Tsemel, Judy Blanc, and
Shulamit Aloni who have not wavered in their commitments and courageous
struggle not just for Palestinian rights but also for the soul of
like Rabbis for Human Rights, the Israeli Committee Against House
Demolitions, Gush Shalom, and many others have also steered a steady
course despite the turbulent waves.
during the earlier intifada, movements like Yesh Gvul emerged to
challenge the military establishment and militarization of Israeli
society, they were viewed as challenging the most "sacred" of
Israeli tenets and power systems.
see Yesh Gvul reemerging now, along with other organizations and
individuals challenging the same military supremacist mentality is a
sign of health within an Israeli society that many had deemed hopelessly
captive to the power industry of unbridled and unquestioned violence.
Rela Mazali and objectors of conscience such as 18-year-old Yair Khilou
and his fellow army resisters are a resounding cry for sanity and
morality in the face of warmongering Sharon, Mofaz, and Ben Eliezer.
question, however, remains unresolved within Israel's rarely questioned
assumptions about blind obedience to military orders and the
glorification of military force.
Shulamit Aloni raised two questions that are in pressing need of a
daring response. Both have to do with culpability-individual
responsibility and guilt.
is the responsibility of decision makers in Israel for the war crimes
and crimes against humanity being exercised against the Palestinian
people with full impunity and with official authorization by such
"killers" as Sharon and Mofaz. She called for the compilation
of evidence and the preparation of files to be presented before
appropriate tribunals at the right time.
the fact that Sharon, so far, has been "sanitized" by the
press and world (mainly western) leaders and has been exempt from real
accountability for his decades-long history of massacres and war crimes
against innocent Palestinians has not gone unnoticed. Neither
"rehabilitated" nor repentant, Sharon has been not only
unleashed on a captive and defenseless Palestinian population, but also
granted a "green light" and the blessings of the US to do more
of the same. His indictment by a Belgian court rarely gets a cursory
mention in the American press, while he gives himself license to murder
and to label his enemies as "terrorists," despite the fact
that he has transformed Israeli policy as a whole into officially
sanctioned state terrorism.
is time for those who have been swept away by the Sharon military storm
(or the bulldozer of death and destruction) to take pause, to stop
awhile and consider the implications of their actions. Sooner or later,
history will catch up with them, and the question of their individual
responsibility and guilt will be raised.
issue is that of the "I was only following orders" infamy.
Here, the "ordered" have to make the distinction between blind
obedience and matters of individual conscience, between military
discipline and moral mutiny.
soldier who is given instructions to torture or to beat to death captive
Palestinians is called upon not only to question the legal consequences
of such crimes (however distant they may seem now), but he/she is also
required to consider the internal distortions and ramifications of such
brutality on his/her own sense of values and self definition.
who aims at Palestinian children's heads and etches a notch on his gun
barrel with every "kill" will ultimately have to face more
scars on his own psyche and moral character.
who fly Apache gun ships or F 16's will have to face the horror of their
own (however anonymous) innocent victims, for physical distance does not
provide any moral distance or immunity.
those who drive the heavy machinery designed to demolish homes, uproot
trees, and destroy crops will also have to face a different type of
"deprivation" from the total material deprivation of their
every check post, those young individual Israeli soldiers who indulge in
the daily humiliation of every individual Palestinian should also
question the price they are paying, now and in the future, for their
desensitization toward human dignity and human suffering.
those who have already refused to obey immoral orders are a distinct
minority; nevertheless they remain visible symbols of a spirit that
rejects moral torpidity and inhumanity.
those who dare to challenge their military "superiors" and
moral "inferiors" are preparing the way for a future course of
action that perceives a reality beyond the unquestioned military
superiority and dominance of the Israeli occupation.
these "righteous" Israelis will be the ones who will redeem
Israel's soul in the future when the days of historical reckoning will
dawn as separate from the impunity of the present.