Recently Jerome Slater passed along the following statement from a London friend named David, saying, “I think it should be widely read.” The writer requested anonymity because of relatives in Israel. He comments on our site as “Bornajoo.” –Editor.
I was born into a poor Jewish family in the slums of the East End of London in the early 60’s, one of four brothers. My father was an Indian Jew and my mother an Iraqi one. They met in India and moved to London in 1960. We lived right in the middle of the Haredi community in Stamford Hill. I was sent to Hebrew and Jewish studies classes nearly every evening until I was around 13.
My first visit to Israel was when I was 5 years old just a year after the Six Day War. I was taken to the Wailing Wall and the Old Town in Jerusalem which was only in Israel’s possession less than a year at that point. When I was 11 years old my first cousin was killed in the Maalot School Massacre of 1974. After that point we grew up hating the Arabs even more than before, there was Jewish influence all around me. There was no crack where the light could get in, it was a closed bubble and no other thoughts were possible. So I know how the brainwashing works.
Then my older brother who went on holiday to Israel when he was 19 (I was 17) visited our family who lost their daughter/sister in Maalot. The 3 brothers (not surprisingly) all had careers in the army.
Instead of coming home they convinced him to join the Israeli army. So he enlisted and was trained in the Golani regiment. These same cousins tried to get me to join up. They told me that “you get a gun, you can kill Arabs!” That’s when I realized what the cycle of hate is. Just as these cousins were hurting at the loss of their sister and could only think about Arab blood, then so did each Palestinian who had his brother, father, uncle killed by the Israelis.
Less than a year later Ariel Sharon sent my brother to Lebanon to fight in the 1982 “war”. While he was there I decided to go and travel around Israel for a few months on my own. I literally went everywhere. It was this trip that first opened my eyes and made me realize that the story wasn’t quite adding up. I will provide just a few examples of many:
–Waiting at a bus stop in Netanya I saw dozens of Palestinians walking in from the West Bank (the days before the Wall and checkpoints) to wait around in the heat for Israeli building contractors to come and pick them up to go and work on some building site for a cash pittance. I still remember the way that they were chosen and poked with a stick and herded onto an open backed pick up truck. It reminded me of images from a previous era in Europe. Then I noticed that it was the Palestinians (both Israeli and occupied) working in the toilets, cleaning the streets, doing the hard slog on building sites, cleaning tables….they were the convenient sub-human slave class.
–While in a hostel in Eilat I was sharing a room with an Israeli and a German. The Israeli told us that we should hide our wallets and passports well because there were Arabs working in the hostel who would try and steal them while we slept. He suggested putting them under our pillows. When we woke up the German realised his cash and passport was gone – and so was the Israeli. We called the police. When they arrived they rounded up the 3 young Palestinian boys who worked at the hostel and began punching them and beating them right in front of us. I was shocked and deeply upset. The whole time we were trying to explain that it was the Israeli who was the real culprit but the poor Palestinians had to take a beating until the police finally understood what we were telling them.
–Later when visiting my family in Haifa my cousin said to me (I’ll never forget these words) “Why you don’t come and live in Israel? We can open a car wash. It’s a good business here. You just need a piece land, 1 machine, 2-3 buckets, 1-2 Arabs….”. Well at least the Arabs made it to number 4 on the list.
–While visiting my uncle in Ashkelon, who was a police commander in Gaza, I told him that I was not feeling comfortable about the way that the Palestinians were being treated. He said to me that these Arabs are simple naïve people, it’s impossible to give them their own country. They are too stupid to have their own country. It was better for them to work for us here. We give them jobs and security. What else do they want?
I think that to be honest my uncle, who was actually a nice man in all other ways, summed up the attitude of the majority of the Israeli public at that time and was the attitude of so many I was speaking to. They felt that they could deal with the Palestinians with impunity. It was already an apartheid state at that time. Since then they have learned to steal more of their land and kill them with impunity. And they wonder why and how they have ended up with the situation today with Hamas et al.
I spent a couple of months on a Kibbutz in the Gilboa region and while I was there a friend and I wanted to go hiking in the hills and visit some Palestinian towns and villages. Even the moderate lefty Kibbutzniks told us that we were crazy and we would probably be killed. We ignored them and went off for a few days. We went to Jenin, we hiked, we hitched rides, we visited several small towns and villages and also went to Nablus. All of the people we met were warm, kind, gentle, lovely and hospitable human beings. To be honest it was a breath of fresh air after living with the hard, aggressive and brash Israelis for so long. These were just normal human beings with the same dreams, hopes and aspirations as the rest of us. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a friendlier, kinder and more hospitable people. After that I regularly visited the Palestinian areas on my visits to Israel, which are more or less impossible now. If anyone asked I always told them the truth that I was Jewish. My head is still attached to my body.
After spending a few horrid months in Lebanon and with just 6 months to go of his army service, my brother decided to desert and come home. We hid his rifle in a place which would be revealed after he got home, we picked up some clothes and bought an air ticket from Cairo to which we were going to get the bus. But he made one mistake. He told our cousins about what he was going to do and to say goodbye. Unfortunately they called the military police and had him arrested. He was sent to a hard labour prison for 6 months and then had to complete his final 6 months after that which was increased by a further 3 months. When he finally got home we heard some of the horror stories of the Lebanon “war” or should I say slaughter. I wont go into details but numerous crimes were committed and there was no mercy, rules or justice for a whole number of innocent civilians. So when I see the slaughters in Gaza I know that the purpose is to pummel the population into submission. Infrastructure is purposely destroyed, civilian casualties are purposely high. The aim is to place the poor wretched inhabitants into a state of utter hell to create a sense of hopelessness and disillusionment with their leaders. This is what they did in Lebanon and what they have done 3 times in Gaza.
I am very open with my own views which have changed considerably since my early brainwashed days. However I am NOT popular with any of my Jewish family and friends in Israel or here in the UK. I travel to Israel a couple of times a year. I have loads of family there and many friends. I have noticed that the Israelis have become increasingly more racist and right wing, especially since the influx of Russian immigrants and the Netanyahu governments. Even my 74 year old auntie said while the Gaza slaughter was going on that “they should kill them all, they are all worms!” I find it increasingly more difficult to have a proper debate because it ends up with you being shouted at and it feels extremely threatening. I have been told to leave quite a few Israeli houses in my days. When I read Gideon Levy’s description of what he has to deal with I have nothing but total respect for him and his courage and bravery. My brief and insignificant experiences there gave me a glimpse of what he must endure just to try and do his job and report the TRUTH.
My frustration is sometimes unbearable. It leads to anger. Why can’t they see that if you treat other human beings in this oppressive, brutal and humiliating way that apart from being morally and ethically disgraceful it can only lead to a radical reaction? I was telling them 30 years ago that if I was one of them and was treated like that I would be making bombs to kill Israelis (that didn’t go down too well). Why is it that they have learned to dehumanize these poor people to such an extent that they can now just drop 1 ton bombs on apartment blocks and kill anyone with impunity because “a terrorist was seen nearby”? There is no feeling, no empathy at all for these poor people from most Israelis. When one group of humans loses the ability to feel empathy for another group of humans then genocide is just a step away. The current Israeli regime has betrayed everything I stand for as a Jew. We have to be better than everyone else. But these days Israelis and other Jews are, as an excuse, increasingly comparing their own brutality to the supposedly even worse brutality of other regimes. The very fact that this is being used as an argument only demonstrates just how severe the moral and ethical decay really is.
I have predicted nearly every move that Netanyahu is going to make when so-called peace discussions are about to take place; either announcements of more settlements or a provocation to bring about a reaction which in turn provides the smoke screen for slaughter. Why is it that just a few of us can see it but the majority of Israelis cannot see that they are being brainwashed by fear, fear of Hamas, fear of Iran and now conveniently ISIS.
My prediction for the future? This might sound too far fetched…but I honestly believe it’s more of a possibility than anything else IF this government or an even more right wing version stays in power. There will be no two state solution and there will not be an inclusive one state solution. Israel has no intention of giving up land, they want to annex all of it. I believe that they will find a “legitimate” way to “transfer” as many Palestinians as possible under the pretext of security. It will be based on terror cells operating in the West Bank and ISIS or similar group will be implicated. Some bombs may go off. This will lead to an increased military presence and eventually the expulsion of the Palestinians from those areas which they will say is “crucial for security”. They want to do this in order to achieve the Greater Israel which is the goal they have always wanted to achieve regardless of how many Palestinians they have to kill or remove in one way or another. After all we have seen a 1000 acres of West Bank land being stolen as punishment for the kidnapping of the teens. Any excuse will do, inch by inch, yard by yard, acre by acre.
Is there hope? Only if the Americans stop them. They are too far gone to stop themselves. This is why in my opinion all efforts have to be focused on educating the Americans and especially the American Jews. But I’m not optimistic at all.