The New York Review of Books has two pieces about Israel/Palestine out right now. One is lame and narcotized, dismissive of the several powerful vectors that threaten Israel’s complacency (boycott, Hamas, apartheid, even the U.S.) and daring to imagine Jordan taking over parts of the West Bank (barely a year after Segev offered a similar Rx in the NYRB). Well I will get to that later, but David Shulman, at the NYRB blog, is alive to the crisis and registers the horrifying news from the new Breaking the Silence testimonies. His headline, “And No One Wants to Know” apparently applies to sectors of the NYRB. Shulman speaks hopefully about the new Israeli left (we need a name for you folks!) again a factor utterly ignored in the other report. And I would assert, per my headline, that this new left is not Zionist. His conclusion:
So it goes, for 431 painful pages. Most painful of all is the inescapable realization that the events reported by the soldiers—in straightforward, unpretentious, searing language—are in no sense unusual. They describe the rule and the norm, the very stuff of the occupation, now forty-three-and-a-half years old and going strong. No one involved in maintaining it gets away unscathed in heart or soul, including the ordinary soldiers who do what they’re told, although only a small number are capable of the kind of articulate reflection on their experience that we find in this book.
But it is not only the soldiers and the policemen and the judges and the bureaucrats who pay a personal price, along with their Palestinian victims. As the Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz predicted forty-three years ago, the occupation has brutalized Israeli society as a whole and eroded the moral foundation of our very existence. If there is still hope for Israel, it lies with those remnants of the peace camp that remain active and, in particular, with groups such as Breaking the Silence, who offer a taste of the bitter, but perhaps ultimately healing, truth.