[[Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada, and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories. They endeavor to stimulate public debate about the price paid for a reality in which young soldiers face a civilian population on a daily basis, and are engaged in the control of that population’s everyday life. Their work aims to bring an end to the occupation.]]
It doesn’t seem strange to you that a kid throws a stone at another kid?
Because one’s a Jew and the other’s a Palestinian, it’s as if it’s okay.
Did you also see the opposite, a Palestinian throwing a stone at a Jew?
I remember that I’d say that it was kind of okay, but to myself I’d think, come on, what is he, retarded? That guy didn’t do anything to him. I’d think, this is what causes the whole mess, these little fights, these things that the Jews start. I know their parents teach them to hate them, and so they legitimize throwing rocks and cursing at them. It’s the kind of thing you see on TV. So it’s clear there’ll be a mess afterward. And you don’t understand which side you’re on. In Hebron it’s the strangest thing, you don’t know which side you’re on. I’m a Jewish Israeli soldier, and I’m supposed to be against the Arabs because they’re my enemy, but I’m here, next to a settler’s house in the base, and I start thinking that I’m not on their side, that the Jews aren’t right. So wait, so no, I have to flip a switch in my brain so I can keep hating Arabs and justifying what the Jews do. But no, wait, I still can’t agree with the Jews, because they started it, it’s because of them that we’re here, and it’s because of them that all this is happening, because they disturb them and they’re afraid. It’s terrible, all of this . . .
So why flip the switch?
Because you have to be loyal to your side.
How old are the kids you’re talking about?
Young, like five or six. The ones who run around outside.
Were the adults ever violent?
I remember one incident. We were on a bus, it was during the disengagement, and I don’t remember what the story was, but there was some settler woman on the bus who they said was crazy. Her husband or boyfriend had been killed by a terrorist, or something like that, so she was screaming at one of the soldiers who wouldn’t give her a place to sit. I remember he was concentrating on controlling himself, restraining himself, and she was hitting him, I think. He held back and held back, and then at a certain point he yelled at her, “Shut up, it’s because of you that I have to be here.” They hated being there.
Yes. I think they were mad at the settlers and at the residents of Hebron. They were angry.
Don’t the settlers bring you pizza at the post and all kinds of stuff like that?
They do, but every so often I’d hear the soldiers say, “It’s because of these shits that we’re here, they should get out of here, they should leave.” On the one hand there’s that—again, you’re mad at your country that the settlers are here, that the Jews are here. On the other hand, you also hate the Arabs, because they kill your friends and make trouble for you.
So you hate everyone?
Yes. And so I think that you don’t think—you say whatever comes into your head at the moment: now I hate this, so I’ll curse at him, and then I hate that, so I’ll curse at him, and now I hate him, so I’ll spit on him.
You spat on Jews?
No, why? They didn’t do anything to me.
What about the Arabs?
But they’re like, Arabs . . . I don’t know, it’s true, the guy I spat on didn’t do anything to me. I think he didn’t do anything at all. But again, it was cool, and it was the one thing I could do to, you know, I can’t go and arrest people and be proud that I caught a terrorist, and I can’t kill a terrorist, and I can’t go on some operation and find some weapons under some tile in their house. But I can spit on them and humiliate them and ridicule them.
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