Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Easy Cases

It's the easy cases that the tribe can agree on. We can all agree that the Kahanists, or the settlers harrassing Palestinian children, or uprooting olive trees, or the abusive soldier at the checkpoint, are moral monsters. But when it comes to the IDF in toto, or the Israeli government, or the State of Israel and its supporters, or some of the assumptions of Zionism -- the harder cases for the tribe -- we pull back. We start the litany of justification and finger-pointing.

Oded Na'aman of "Breaking the Silence" talks about the problem of focusing on "easy cases" or what he calls the "extraordinary cases."

IDF Spokesperson Tells the Truth!

On Thursday, 1.11.07. , The Daily Israel Today published a story revealing that soldiers from Golani 12th battalion take pictures of corpses of terrorists which they killed, and use them as screen savers on their cell phones. At first glance, it seems that that is the real news is in this story. At a closer look, the article gives us a rare glimpse at the logic that guides the IDF spokesman when examining cases like these. This is due to an unexplained honesty of the IDF's response to the incident.

After the obligatory declaration of the IDF's commitment to morality and human rights, the IDF stated: " The issues will be examined, and if we see that this is indeed an extraordinary case, and not a widespread phenomenon, it will be dealt with with utmost seriousness."

Yes, yes -- according to the IDF, if this is a widespread phenomenon, meaning, if they find out that in many cases soldiers have corpses as screen savers on their phones, the problem will NOT be dealt with.

Finally the IDF stated, without shame, their policy since Breaking the Silence began publishing soldiers' testimonies: The IDF does not investigate or punish when dealing with the illegal norms of its soldiers. It only acts in extra-ordinary cases. The reason is simple: the IDF is aware of the importance of ethical values. And ethically, an extra-ordinary problem is better than a widespread phenomenon, so the IDF deals only with the former.

Indeed, even if there is a widespread phenomenon, what could the IDF possibly do? put the whole army in jail? If there is a normative problem, they might as well leave it alone. It isn't such a big deal... we will let the troops have a little fun. After all, they need to be proud of their work. "And I will tell you something else" -- one can almost hear the IDF saying -- " they got those dead Arabs in some great positions"

Only when people like Amoz Oz and Avishai Margalit (and I) look into the mirror and see Barukh Marzel staring back at them is there hope for some progress.

Until then, we will just be agreeing on the easy cases.

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