The parents of Israelis, killed and killers, are crying because they have lost their loved ones. They were betrayed by the lies.
Mother of a murderer?
A border policeman is arrested for shooting a Palestinian teen at a demonstration in Beitunia with live fire; he faces murder charges. On Wednesday his parents are interviewed. Faces blacked out, the unmistakable sounds of betrayal and anguish pour from the shadows.
The mother’s voice shakes, then sobs. She pleads for the nightmare to end. “It’s tearing me to pieces. I can’t believe this is happening to me, to our family” she weeps. The state has abandoned her son. “He risked his life for the state,” she says over and over. “After all he contributed to the IDF, to the state, this is how they reciprocate?” The father begs: “don’t turn him into a scapegoat.” The mother is bewildered. “It’s a knife in his back.”
I am crushed watching them. They are right. They were told their whole lives that donating their sons to the military is the mission of all Israeli families. The cause of supporting the army to support the state spans the globe, uniting this mother in spirit with Hollywood stars who last week donated $33 million to the IDF. This isn’t just “Friends of the IDF,” it’s a family brought together for the cause of sacrificing its children.
Maybe the family wasn’t told those things explicitly. Who has to say it? This holy mission of the military is an eternal truth for very nearly all Israelis. Every day, the prime minister repeats that Israel is surrounded by actual existential threats. A stone and a nuclear bomb, maybe even a teenage protestor, the video shows, are one and the same.
The killing of the teens in Betunia wasn’t about following or refusing orders. I doubt whether anyone actually told the suspect to fire. In the moral worldview that defines Israel, he did everything right. Except it was wrong. Confused? So is the broken mother. Her son should have been a hero and instead he is a murderer. The prime minister keeps his seat, the Hollywood stars feel good about themselves. Only this family will pay. And of course, the families of the slain teens.
Listening to murder
Noy, the girlfriend of Almog Shiloni, a 20-year old soldier stabbed to death in Tel Aviv on Sunday, spoke to Channel 2 in a flat, bewildered monotone. She has a baby face, a tiny mouth and huge eyes. Her boyfriend brought her presents regularly, “not for birthdays or celebrations or anything, just to say, ‘I’m thinking about you.’” He made her albums of their photos together. He came to her parents’ house not long ago to tell the father: “Prepare yourself. I’m going to ask your daughter to marry me.”
Noy was on the phone with Almog as he was about to get on a train. Suddenly he dropped the call; she heard a commotion, voices saying, “he’s lost consciousness.” She rushed to the station, saw the scene and fainted. Footage then shows her slumped on the ground, face upturned, crying and crying and crying.
Almog‘s death may be murder; but it’s not so simple to call this terrorism. Almog was not a civilian but a soldier in an army whose primary mission at present is permanent, hostile, non-democratic rule over the assailant, from Nablus. He is a participant in an active conflict.
Yet the Israeli leadership, with the help of hasbara and much of the local media, helps citizens not to know. It invented the fiction of a “status quo,” another name for expanding land grabs and shrinking freedoms for Palestinians. It maintains that the country is normal: an imperfect but plucky democracy doing its best to improve, whose main issues are the middle class crash and at best, an image problem. It told citizens that on August 26th, the latest war ended. That Almog was murdered because he was Jewish.
I am uncomfortable with hyperbole, but there is no apt description for these notions other than lies. The parents of Israelis, killed and killers, are crying because they have lost their loved ones. They were betrayed by the lies.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote:
Let us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood…Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood, falsehood its only support in violence. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his method must inexorably choose falsehood as his principle.
Worst of all, today’s tears will be washed away by tomorrow’s. Until we refuse to hear lies anymore.