Monday, February 23, 2009

Hate crimes in Galilee? Land-grabs in Bethlehem? Oy vey!

(Photos are of me in Bethlehem and at the Wailing Wall, a Bethlehem street scene in early morning, the Church of the Nativity and a poster for the movie "Waltz with Bashir")

How come hate crimes and land grabs are decried and illegal everywhere else in the civilized world -- except in Israel? Why is that? How come every other country in the civilized world forces their citizens to toe the line, behave themselves and be well-mannered -- but Israel gets a pass?

It's true that the state of Israel was conceived and born by the sword -- but watching the civilized world continue to allow Israel to live by the sword for all these years is really starting to get on my nerves. Maybe Israel's tendency to blow up Palestinians may have been cute 62 years ago but, frankly, now it's beginning to get a bit old. It's like letting your kid get away with murder as a two-year-old but then continuing to condone this same bad behavior after the kid has grown up. At some point in time, you just gotta tell that kid that "No means NO" -- and mean it.

No one in the civilized world said "No!" to the Zionist movement when it made its big land-grab back in 1947, muscling in on hundreds of Palestinian cities and towns and displacing approximately 450,000 Palestinians. "Boys will be boys," the international community said as they turned a blind eye and smiled.

And now that Israel is all grown up, it is STILL not playing well with others -- and apparently is still getting away with it too, as evidenced not only by its recent horrendous attacks on Lebanon and Gaza but also by its never-ending land-grabs in Palestine and its multiple hate-crimes against Palestinians, Muslim Israelis and Arab-Christian Israelis. Isn't Israel a bit too old for that kind of childish behavior now? Apparently not. Grown-up Israel still appears to think that NO ONE can tell it "No".

That's bad toilet training in the formative years coming back to bite you.

According to The Palestinian Information Center, land-grabs in Palestine continue to be an everyday occurrence even now, 62 years after Israel's original illegal seizure of approximately 423 Palestinian villages. This kind of ill-mannered behavior has been going on continually now for 62 years -- and is currently going on in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, even as we speak.

Land-grabs in Bethlehem? Apparently so.

About 300 Israeli settlers escorted by IOF troops and border guards invaded several areas in the Artas village, south of Bethlehem on Friday," the PIC reported, "and set up several tents on these areas which are threatened with annexation.
This Israeli escalation came after Israeli bulldozers established an 800-meter road linking the area of Khalat Al-Nahl in the village with the Efrat settlement built on the territory of several villages in the area including Artas and Khadr. Villagers from Artas told the PIC that the Israeli bulldozers are working in this area around the clock even at night in order to finish quickly this settlement scheme."

Anywhere else in the civilized world, that kind of land-grab would be considered bratty behavior. Any other civilized country that continually acted like that would be given a time-out and allowed no cookies for dessert.

And what about hate crimes? They seem to be forbidden everywhere else in the civilized world but when Israelis perform hate crimes, apparently Europe and America's reaction seems to be, "Now isn't that cute!"

Hate crimes in Galilee? Apparently so.

According to the PIC, "Arab Knesset member Ibrahim Sarsour deplored the blasphemous assault on the Bahar mosque in the Tabaria city at dawn Saturday through spraying satanic graffiti on the mosque's wall in addition to red and black colors. In a statement received by the PIC, the Knesset member, noted that such malicious assaults on Islamic holy places had been committed by both the IOA and settlers for decades." If someone defaced a synagogue in Amsterdam or in New York City, they would be in Big Trouble. But, apparently, in the Holy Land, defacing a mosque is okay.

Will these obvious hate crimes in Galilee continue to go unpunished? Or will Israel be taught a lesson, told to play nicely with others and get sent to its room? Nope, it looks like Israel is gonna get spoiled again. And nothing is more embarrassing than watching a grown-up civilized nation continue to throw temper tantrums and spin out of control.

PS: I just went to see an incredible Israeli film that sheds light on the huge mental and emotional price that many IDF solders are now paying for their participation in Israel's various land-grab pogroms. Called "Waltz with Bashir," the movie was written and directed by Ari Folman, a former IDF soldier who goes on a quest to find out just exactly what happened to him during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. "I have no memory of that time," he tells his fellow soldiers. "I can remember nothing about what happened at the massacre at Shabra and Shantila."

Slowly and painfully, Folman reconstructs his memory of the massacre and works through his guilt. It is a stunning film. I recommend it -- and so does everyone else apparently. It won the Golden Globe best foreign film award, has been nominated for an Academy Award and won six Ophirs in Israel, including ones for best picture, best director and best screenplay.