Saturday, January 15, 2011

Israeli Veterans Group "Breaking The Silence" Collects Testimony About Occupation Service

David Shulman writes in the New York Review of Books about accounts collected in “Occupation of the Territories: Israeli Soldiers’ Testimonies 2000-2010.” He cites the late Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who predicted that the occupation would brutalize Israeli society–and the publication provides direct, searing evidence of that. Breaking the Silence, Israeli veteran combatants who collect and expose such testimony, is publishing the book in Hebrew and English. It is also available online. From Shulman’s review:

...To read [the reports] is to see the profound moral corruption of the occupation in all its starkness. They show us ordinary, decent young soldiers, caught up in an impossible situation, sometimes trying desperately to make sense of that situation, but mostly following their orders without question. In a number of cases, those interviewed have clearly been psychologically and spiritually scarred by their participation in horrific events of which they had little understanding at the time.

…Particularly ominous is the far-reaching interpenetration of the army units and the Israeli settlers who...are said to give the soldiers their orders. The editors...describe the settlers’ special status: they are “not merely Israeli citizens entitled to practice they are also partners in the military rule of the Palestinians.” As a soldier says..., “You don’t want to get into a confrontation with a Jewish settlement. ...they are like your operations branch officer...”

...If there is still hope for Israel, it lies with those remnants of the peace camp that remain active and, in particular, with groups such as Breaking the Silence, who offer a taste of the bitter, but perhaps ultimately healing, truth.

Photo: IDF checkpoint, Breaking the Silence

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