[[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 populationâs everyday life. Their work aims to bring an end to the occupation.]]
It doesnât seem strange to you that a kid throws a stone at another kid?
Because oneâs a Jew and the otherâs a Palestinian, itâs as if itâs okay.
Did you also see the opposite, a Palestinian throwing a stone at a Jew?
I remember that Iâd say that it was kind of okay, but to myself Iâd think, come on, what is he, retarded? That guy didnât do anything to him. Iâd 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. Itâs the kind of thing you see on TV. So itâs clear thereâll be a mess afterward. And you donât understand which side youâre on. In Hebron itâs the strangest thing, you donât know which side youâre on. Iâm a Jewish Israeli soldier, and Iâm supposed to be against the Arabs because theyâre my enemy, but Iâm here, next to a settlerâs house in the base, and I start thinking that Iâm not on their side, that the Jews arenât 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 canât agree with the Jews, because they started it, itâs because of them that weâre here, and itâs because of them that all this is happening, because they disturb them and theyâre afraid. Itâs terrible, all of this . . .
So why flip the switch?
Because you have to be loyal to your side.
How old are the kids youâre 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 donât 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 wouldnât 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, âShut up, itâs because of you that I have to be here.â They hated being there.
Yes. I think they were mad at the settlers and at the residents of Hebron. They were angry.
Donât the settlers bring you pizza at the post and all kinds of stuff like that?
They do, but every so often Iâd hear the soldiers say, âItâs because of these shits that weâre here, they should get out of here, they should leave.â On the one hand thereâs thatâagain, youâre 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 donât thinkâyou say whatever comes into your head at the moment: now I hate this, so Iâll curse at him, and then I hate that, so Iâll curse at him, and now I hate him, so Iâll spit on him.
You spat on Jews?
No, why? They didnât do anything to me.
What about the Arabs?
But theyâre like, Arabs . . . I donât know, itâs true, the guy I spat on didnât do anything to me. I think he didnât do anything at all. But again, it was cool, and it was the one thing I could do to, you know, I canât go and arrest people and be proud that I caught a terrorist, and I canât kill a terrorist, and I canât 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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Christopher Carlson is a full-time student of Religious Studies at Mount Mercy University, USA. He has been with the IMEMC since 2013. (firstname.lastname@example.org)