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Sharon Kaduri: Let The Palestinian Fix It

[The Occupation is corrupting everything in Israeli society. It is everyday stories like the one below that manage to convey just how deeply ingrained is its pernicious influence. Readers comments on this article were also instructive pointing out that the very fact that Ms Kaduri was astounded at the events is a negative sign. Where has she been for the past thirty years? Someone asked.

Read it and weep. Sol Salbe.]

LET THE PALESTINIAN FIX IT;


How under IDF bayonets, my flat tyre was fixed.
By Sharon Kaduri

In the following story I do not intend to present a political position. Instead, I want to appeal to the hearts of all the citizens of the State of Israel, in particular the soldiers serving at the borders and in the Territories and are doing a decent job.

On one beautiful Saturday I drove with my sister to tour one of the woods near the Green Line. We passed one checkpoint and another, and then the thing happened: We got stuck because of a flat tyre. Two little women (forgive me, Feminists) who have never changed a wheel. We were forced to ask for the help of passers by. To our luck, a military jeep stopped near us and four soldiers responded to our call.

After a moment of fussing with our trunk they stopped a pick-up truck and, from it, by their orders, came out an elderly man and his twenty years old plus son, Palestinians, residents of a nearby village. "Come, come, help us to change the wheel for these two ladies here", they told the young man. Within seconds he seated himself on the asphalt and changed the wheel, while those in uniform and with the weapons were saying to him: "Whoever said that there is no friendship between the peoples, and, we are cousins, aren't we?" Afterwards they even tried to avoid boredom by trying to ingratiate themselves on us, the young women.

I am a spoiled Tel Avivian from a Middle Class background and I felt in my bones the terrible feeling of humiliation that this Arab fellow experienced. Four soldiers with authority and power, given to them by the regulations in order to maintain law and order, stood there and exploited it to their advantage. After all, it was their help we sought, not the help of the Palestinian fellow. I am sure that had we asked him, he would have responded positively, but he was not asked, he was ordered to stop everything he and his father (who was not allowed to move away from that spot) were doing.

I felt trapped, on one hand, I was filled with anger, I wanted to scream, to rebel and to refuse. On the other hand, we are talking about soldiers of my own people, who are protecting me and wishing the best for me, and if today I will ridicule them, "they" will also ridicule the soldiers in other sensitive situations, today or tomorrow. Therefore, all that was left for me to do was to be nice to the young fellow and show him that, like him, I am also merely obeying the rules out of no choice.

Thus, in the course of the few pleasantries we exchanged (It was primarily me who suggested, thanked, expressed concern. He kept quiet almost throughout, accepting the raw deal), our eyes connected and I, with soft eyes, tried to express as much empathy as I could. I wanted him to know that I was with him even though, on the face of it, I am the "owner" of the vehicle and he, the 'labourer" who is fixing my flat tyre for free.

The height of irony was that after the fellow and his father departed, the soldiers were mad at me for being nice to him, on the grounds that he was a potential terrorist. What? Do they really not understand "how terrorists are created"? After all, this fellow does not know me or any other owner of a "blue ID card" with their sting and their honey. He only knows the soldiers and their sting. He obeys them and when on the morning of one Saturday his dignity is trampled on (perhaps it wasn't even the first time) for no apparent reason, it is sufficient in order to trigger in a person a basic hatred towards an entire nation. Now add to this recipe a terrorist organisation that will do a brainwashing job on a fellow in his situation and convert him into a killing machine.

I vehemently denounce terrorist activities. But to trigger the sparks of terrorism with our own hands, is it reasonable? I was also a soldier. I also know how difficult it is to live in a constant struggle with morality and empathy questions while confronting life or death issues. I know how difficult it is for combat soldiers to defend themselves and their country and at the same time maintain their humanity. And they do it, most of them pass this test honourably.

Thus a question rises, who trained those soldiers I met during my trip? After all, there were no life or death issues involved there. There was only an abuse of power and disregard for the dignity of another human being whose nationality is different than ours, but one who is still a person, like us.

It doesn't matter who is right and who isn't, who is entitled and who murdered more, because when you live in war it is even more important that we all maintain one thing, our humanity.

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

The writer is a student of Social Work at Tel Aviv University.
Translated by Zalman Amit from the 13 March Hebrew Haaretz. - Hebrew original

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