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1542Good boys in Gaza

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  • ummyakoub
    Dec 5, 2003
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      Good boys in Gaza
      By LARRY DERFNER
      Jerusalem Post
      Nov. 27, 2003

      I wish everyone of the 13 million Jews in the world could read
      Tismonet Mahsom â€" Checkpoint Syndrome â€" which was written up in
      the
      Hebrew press last Friday and is due to appear in the bookstores this
      week. It would give them an idea of what too many Israeli soldiers
      are doing to the Palestinians â€" not to terrorists, but to unarmed
      innocents passing through â€" and what it's doing to them.

      The author, Liran Ron Furer, was a sensitive, well-brought-up kid
      from Givatayim who went to a high school of the arts and never got
      into fights, and who intended to be a good, solid soldier when he got
      to Gaza in 1997 at age 18. By the time he got out three years later,
      he was quite the accomplished sadist, having beaten up, smacked
      around and variously humiliated a stream of harmless Palestinians,
      including fathers in front of their families.

      And he was by no means unique. Toward the end of his duty, he
      describes watching from his lookout post above a Gaza checkpoint as a
      soldier examines the IDs of three Palestinians who have driven up.

      "He makes sure that nobody sees him, goes up to one of the Arabs and
      smashes him in the ribs with the barrel of his rifle. The Arab
      collapses on the ground, and the soldier goes on standing there,
      indifferent. I understand him. I know it's terrible, it's wrong, but
      I also had my hands on Arabs like that and no one was around, it's so
      tempting â€" to smash them, it's so easy. The second soldier came out
      of the guard post and starting talking with his friend, and didn't
      even pay any attention to the Arab on the ground."

      This is what Jews either don't know or don't want to admit: that
      young Israeli soldiers who brutalize unarmed Palestinians (and it's
      usually the young army regulars who do it, not the older reservists)
      aren't acting out of fear, but rather the opposite â€" they're trying
      out their new power, they've got the guns and the Palestinian
      standing in front of them doesn't.

      Furer and his buddies at the checkpoint were bored, exhausted from
      lack of sleep, hot and in a permanently rotten mood, and they took
      out their frustrations on hapless Palestinians.

      According to the publishers, this is the first time an Israeli
      soldier has published a book detailing all the terrible things he did
      on intifada duty. But the material isn't new at all â€" it's nothing
      that hasn't surfaced in countless human-rights reports, media
      interviews with ex-soldiers, and conversations with Israelis about
      what they did and saw in the territories.

      I SAW it myself when I was on reserve duty in Gaza in the summer of
      1990. A couple of border policemen attacked a line of cabs because
      they were standing too near the base and didn't move off fast enough.
      They punched one driver in the face, tore off antennas, and then,
      after throwing their billy clubs at the taxis hurrying away, hugged
      each other and started jumping up and down for joy.

      A border policeman sitting in a jeep motioned over a Palestinian
      sitting on a bench, and when the young man got close enough, he
      slammed open his door in the guy's face. I told my platoon commander
      about all this, and he said there was nothing he could do.

      The summer before, during basic training in the West Bank, we dumped
      a truckful of trash on a Palestinian woman's vegetable garden. She
      started shrieking at us in Arabic, and the driver answered her in her
      language.

      A soldier, as shamefaced as I was, translated for me what the driver
      had said: "Shut up, you old whore." Not wanting to come off like
      bleeding hearts in basic training, though, we didn't bring this to
      our officers' attention.

      How many Israeli soldiers are wantonly abusing Palestinian civilians?
      It seems to vary widely from unit to unit; the Border Police are the
      most notorious. Many Israeli Ashkenazis like to think the problem is
      largely confined to young Mizrahi soldiers who grew up in poor,
      violent neighborhoods where hatred of Arabs was a creed, but Furer
      insists that from what he saw, it cuts across all demographic lines.
      I think it's safe to say that whatever the number of brutal Israeli
      soldiers may be, it's larger than the number of soldiers who are
      prepared to stop them. Otherwise, this wouldn't go on.

      So what's the point â€" that Israelis are inherently brutal?
      Absolutely
      not. In fact, what Israeli soldiers are doing to the Palestinians
      doesn't touch what the French did to the Algerians, what the
      Americans did to the Vietnamese, what the Russians are still doing to
      the Chechnyans.

      And these are just a few examples. There will be no mass graves dug
      up in the West Bank or Gaza. Across Asia and Africa, crimes against
      humanity are being committed that dwarf anything Israel is doing in
      the occupation.

      But the French got out of Algeria, and now 18-year-old French boys
      aren't given rifles and thrown into the kind of situation that may
      well bring out the worst in them. Israeli boys still are, and it's a
      formative experience. "Somebody said," writes Furer, "that the more
      the Arabs are afraid of us, the easier things will be at the
      checkpoint, and as time went on we found out that he was right."

      He started out as a good boy from Givatayim. I've got two good boys
      myself. Everywhere you look in this country there are lots and lots
      of good boys.

      The writer is a veteran journalist and a regular contributor.

      *********************************************************************

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