By Gideon Levy, Haaratz, April 5, 2016
|The body of the wounded Palestinian executed by an Israeli soldier lies in the foreground|
Israel is forming a new national identity. The old one was problematic too, but the new one is incorrigible. It’s not a passing fancy, it’s the zeitgeist and the ortgeist, the spirit of the place, and it is patently irreversible. Some of the cultural decline is in a failure to recognize the gravity of the situation, even by those who don’t approve of a soldier executing a helpless Palestinian. Some of the blindness lies in the paralysis that gripped those who did not scream outside the Castina military court.
The new situation, of which the soldier in Hebron is just one symptom, is irreversible, because there’s no one to change it. One might think it could be fixed in the future, that the mood will change when the government does. But the situation is irreparable because there’s no one to repair it, not now or in the foreseeable future. Any attempt to write an alternative, hopeful, scenario, which gives some hope, is nipped in the bud. Try it and see. There is no such script, and one cannot even be imagined.
Who will stop the decline taking place before our unsurprised eyes? With horrific speed, it is changing the ortgeist and with it, the nation and its values. These changes will be nearly impossible to reverse. See who protested in Beit Shemesh, who the thugs were in Ma’aleh Adumim, Ramle and Castina and who wrote on Facebook that killing Arabs reflects values. This is the next generation of Israelis, the face of its future. It’s doubtful that a nation so corrupt can be brought back to the straight and narrow. A people that has lost its moral compass, even its shame, will never find them again. How would it, and why? No one even seems to be trying.
It’s not that all Israelis have become monsters. The worst of them, those who see the executioner soldier, as a national hero are not yet a majority. Those who think “death to Arabs,” who are convinced that non-Jews shouldn’t be allowed to live here; those who know they are the Chosen People and those who are sure that sovereignty is guaranteed by divine promise; those who think the Palestinians have no rights and those who are sure the Israel Defense Forces is the most moral army in the world — are growing stronger and more numerous at a frightening rate. And no one stands up to them.
After the orgy of 1967 came the turning point of Operation Protective Edge: In the summer of 2014, tolerance died, replaced by violence. The Zionist-religious demon genie escaped, and there’s no one to recapture it. All the social agents meant to protect society weakened or collapsed, nothing remained.The center-left politicians are paralyzed with fear at the pouncing tiger, while those on the right ride its back and kow-tow to reap momentary gains. It will throw them off too, in the end.
The media have all but relinquished their genuine purpose. Israel doesn’t need a Ministry of Propaganda: The media perform that function, and civil society is being dragged down by the government, with the help of the media. The justice system is right on their tail. B’Tselem? Traitors. Lehava and La Familia? They’re principled. Need we say more?
Who will stop this? Isaac Herzog? Yair Lapid? Gabi Ashkenazi? Gideon Sa’ar? Don’t make me laugh. The Supreme Court? The IDF chief of staff? The military justice system? The conference against the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement that was sponsored by the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper? The Channel 2 television news and “Fact,” after they return from carrying out investigations commissioned by Ad Kan? Who exactly will stop it?
There are toxic seeds which, once planted, cannot be stopped from sprouting. There are plagues that cannot be stopped from spreading. We are there. When the execution of a wounded Palestinian becomes a value, all other values and hopes disappear. A new people has been created, between the ultranationalist and religious right on one side and the apathetic majority on the other. The People of Israel lives, and will continue to do so, its country is strong and steadfast and it will apparently survive forever. But this place will become impossible and intolerable for anyone who thinks differently. No one will stop this on their behalf.