Realistic Dove has picked up an unbelievable story about the Israeli army not allowing Palestinians to bathe at the Dead Sea:
Israelis bathing on the north shore of the Dead Sea had not
been pleased with the presence of the Palestinians who they feared
might harm them…[An IDF spokesman]said that since the opening of the bathing season large
numbers of Palestinians have been coming to the northern Dead Sea
shore, which is the only beach where Palestinian from the West Bank are
allowed to bathe. In some cases, the officer said, violence and
scuffles broke out between Palestinians and Jews.
To his credit, Dove arrives at an inescapable conclusion: "Israel is not South Africaâ¦yet. But slowly, inexorably, Israel is
moving towards a situation that is very similar to that of South
Africaâs during the apartheid years." And he says that the "experience" of Palestinians under occupation may well be worse than that of blacks under apartheid.
I have a somewhat different response. Last year, on a campus tour here, the great Yehuda Shaul of Breaking the Silence showed nauseating photographs of the Israeli army’s routine abuse of Palestinians in the territories, and when uncritical Zionists in his audience rose to shout him down, with a woman law student saying, "Your
perspective is very minor, very exceptional, an extreme view," and invoked Israel’s security, Shaul responded eloquently:
We always talk about security. Security
is a very powerful word. You know in order to justify the existence of a
society, security is not enough. … I will prove that to you in a black and white way.
What if it was shown, In order to have peace in the Middle East, the only thing you must do, is genocide
all the Palestinians. What will you say, to do it or not?
The woman refused to
Then Shaul said, "
My answer is no. Why no? Because there are moral red lines."
Beautiful. Shaul said that Israel had crossed those moral red lines again and again in ways that had corrupted Israeli society. The Dead-Sea-beaches story is yet another shocking example. And the story is not in the U.S. press, let alone on the front page of the Times, where it belongs. Neither was Yehuda Shaul’s campus tour. That is the bottom line here. Yehuda Shaul is trying to have a large conversation about what has happened to his society, in order to save it (ditto Realistic Dove). But in the U.S., we can’t have that conversation, because we are forcibly invested in an illusion about Israeli democracy. What do we know about the reality of Palestinian life? What are we allowed to know?