week I was trying to explain this to a friend: a mother of two children,
very much pro-peace, anti-settlements and anti-Sharon. Can you imagine,
I asked her, what it means when children are locked day after day
at home with their grandmother's corpse, that the Israeli army wouldn't
I've also read about that," said the friend. "What I can't understand
is: why don't they bury those corpses in the garden?"
suggested that there might not be much of a garden in a refugee
camp, and if there was one, they might not be allowed to go there
what I would do is simply put the corpse in the refrigerator, so
that it doesn't stink. Corpses stink terribly, you know."
reminded her that power supply was cut in most Palestinian towns
since the invasion.
doesn't matter. The stink stays inside the fridge, even if it's
hinted that not all Palestinian refugees possessed an expensive
double-door American fridge like in North Tel-Aviv. It might be
too small for a corpse.
I'm sure they can somehow fold it." She now tried to demonstrate
with her own body how this should be done.
conversation ended here. Later, I couldn't forgive myself for my
own complicity in it, in reducing atrocities to technicalities.
I also recalled that that friend had once told me the good thing
about her dog was that it was tamed to get rid of dead cockroaches;
she couldn't stand the sight of them.
almost stopped following Israeli electronic media and switched to
BBC World and Al-Jazeera
instead. Israeli radio and television news usually open with an
elaborate report on all the important events of the day: two soldiers
scratched, a third one broke a fingernail. Stones thrown at a settlers'
car, no injuries, the settlers returned fire. Twelve people injured
in last week's suicide attack are still in hospital. And so on.
After all these dramatic developments, if there's some time left,
we get some marginal stories, like "Palestinian sources claim that
30 of their people were killed today" or "West Bank hospitals may
soon have water again."
on a quiet day. If there is a Palestinian terror attack, all programmes
are immediately suppressed in favour of reports and commentary on
that, broadcasted for hours in an endless loop. A retired army general
is interviewed: "Don't you think Israel is showing much too much
restraint?" A commercial television channel that once stuck to its
normal schedule after a suicide attack was punished by the state
that is still not enough for the ruling junta. You can never be
enough of a mouthpiece for them. Therefore Israeli journalists are
kept out of the territories. Ha'aretz (19.4.02) reports of
new kind of army checkpoints, where soldiers stop journalists,
claiming it is "a closed military zone", but let settlers go through.
An Israeli journalist who had been stopped this way removed his
press stickers, pretended he was just a settler and was allowed
to pass. Listen to what a senior officer in the so-called "only
democracy in the Middle East" has to say re. freedom of the press
majority of the people is with us, not with the media. It's a war
and we have no intention to facilitate your access. Only those playing
by our rules will be allowed to enter. Let's see what you are worth
without the army's help. And anyway, you should be grateful for
what you get. Foreign journalists don't even get a fraction of that."
in any other dictatorship, subversiveness becomes the name of the
game. Walls in Tel-Aviv are covered with a new graffiti: "It
is good to die – for the settlements?" When the public television
channel widely covered Sharon's latest spin – the celebrated "regional
peace conference" – the reporters could hardly suppress their laughter.
the bus, on my way to the university, immediately before and immediately
after the top-of-the-hour radio news, I heard a new commercial spot:
"CNN is biased against Israel. Do not watch it. Do not advertise
in it. Flood CNN with letters of protest. Call this number for details."
Yes, CNN, not some European television (everybody knows that all
Europeans are anti-Semites). Even CNN isn't Zionist enough for some
the university, the Students' Union was collecting signatures. A
couple of days earlier, the same Students' Union had announced its
objection to demonstrations of Arab students in the campus. Just
like that, on a purely racist basis, not even disguised.
that," I asked.
petition against the foreign press, it's biased against Israel,"
the two students replied.
I sign here also against war crimes?"
we don't run such a petition. Maybe others do."
see. Do you find the foreign press more important than war crimes,
like letting injured people bleed to death in Jenin?"
didn't really answer. Maybe they were embarrassed, maybe they thought
I was crazy, maybe they knew or assumed I was a teacher.
had Holocaust Memorial Day last week, remember?"
said they remembered.
for Our Soldiers
to this: in school they asked my child to bring a package for the
soldiers." I heard this line from six or seven different parents.
Each of them believed it was only in their school. When I told them
it seemed to be the same all over the country, they were all fairly
astonished: everyone sees his part of the picture, but cannot believe
it is a grand pattern.
all experienced the same problem: on one hand, they didn't want
to give any packages to soldiers. On the other hand, they didn't
want their children to feel isolated in class.
father told me his son was boasting at home that he would tell the
whole class loudly what he thought of that war, but that he knew
his son and he would probably shut his mouth when it comes to it.
mother said her daughter put an angry letter in the package, telling
her dear soldier he had nothing to look for in the occupied territories.
father told me his son asked his mother why the package was so heavy:
"Are you sure daddy didn't put a bomb inside?..."