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Letter to an Israeli soldier

John Wight is a writer and commentator specializing in geopolitics, UK domestic politics, culture and sport.

Published time: July 30, 2014 11:42
Israeli army tanks and armoured vehicles are seen in Gaza near the border with Israel July 30, 2014 (Reuters / Baz Ratner)

Three weeks into your military assault on the most densely populated piece of land anywhere in the world, how does it feel? How does it feel to watch your missiles and shells – delivered from air, land and sea – reduce the Gaza Strip to rubble?

Starved, besieged, yet unbowed, the 1.8 million people you have imprisoned there can do nothing except endure as your bombs and your missiles rain down, targeting hospitals, schools, civic buildings, homes, police stations and even UN compounds where people had sought sanctuary; still believing, despite decades of disappointment and betrayal, in the sanctity and protection of international law.

Your bombs have sought and found their victims, incinerating and blowing to smithereens young and old alike, at the same time as your government attempts to convince the world that every effort is being made to avoid civilian casualties in what they describe as a military operation to root out terrorism and provide security for its citizens. It is a lie.

Slaughtering children is never done in the name of security. It is done in the name of barbarity.

After the air assault you began your ground invasion, and who could ever forget the pictures of you and your comrades, fully armed and equipped for combat, marching into the night, marching over the hopes and lives of the children who in just a few hours were destined to be blown apart by the guns and the bullets you carry so proudly as a testament to your superior civilization and values. You marched into a part of the world that you have ensured remains cut off from the rest of humanity, a punishment you have inflicted on the people living there for daring to resist by electing a government you do not approve of. But this government refuses to recognize us, you have asserted time and again, revealing a grotesque expectation to be recognized by a people who’ve been systematically expropriated, brutalized, and dehumanized since 1948, when your state was formed.

The whole world is watching you and your comrades – soldier of the “most moral army in the world” – with mounting anger and incredulity that such barbarism can be inflicted by a military superpower on a defenseless civilian population in the 21st century. Even your sponsors and apologists in the West are finding it difficult to provide you with the political support you have always counted on while violating international law as if not worth the paper it is written on. This collusion by Western governments in your crimes is a crime in itself, one that history will not forgive.

So tell us: when will your thirst for Palestinian blood be sated? How many dead women and children will be enough before you decide to end this massacre? Gaza is already in ruins, so whatever happens now you can be satisfied when you return to your family and kiss your children like the brave warrior you think you are.

Israeli soldiers from the Givati Brigade walk back to a staging area after returning to Israel from Gaza July 30, 2014 (Reuters / Baz Ratner)

Meanwhile, the suffering, despair and carnage you leave behind will entitle humanity to ask, yet again, if to be born Palestinian is to be born less than human, condemned by the great powers to be considered children of a lesser god – their history, culture and rights denied?

Yet no matter the calumny and lies employed by your government, by their spokesmen and women, who appear on our TV screens with the confidence of those who claim to act in the name of democracy and civilization, who claim to speak and act in the name of past victims of genocide and mass murder, the Palestinians continue to refuse to play the role chosen for them by you and by your apologists. No, the Palestinians refuse to acquiesce in their own destruction, drawing hope from the truth that no missile or bomb, no tank or military aircraft, could ever come close to matching the power of the human spirit.

In just three weeks something has changed. The world has seen with its own eyes that Israel is not the victim it claims. As they have come out in unprecedented number across the world, people understand that the continued dispossession and misery of the Palestinian people will no longer be tolerated. In their millions around the world, and increasingly within Israel itself, people are declaring that no longer will they stand by and bear witness to occupation, oppression, and barbarism carried out in the name of progress. Too many times in the past the world has stood by, with the names and dates of past atrocities a warning of the abyss into which humanity has sunk before and could sink again unless the world remains vigilant.

Guernica 1937: the Warsaw Ghetto 1942: My Lai 1968: Fallujah 2003: Gaza 2008-09, 2012, and 2014
It is not vengeance the world seeks, but justice – and justice for the Palestinians can only begin when the injustice that has placed a wall around your own humanity is ended. End the siege, tear down the apartheid wall, remove the checkpoints, and free not only those you have imprisoned all these years but just as importantly, free yourself.

You affirm time and again that Israel has the right to exist. Yes, but not as an apartheid state, not as a state which exists at the negation of a people whose only crime is that they continue to exist on land which you have long since decided belongs to you. No matter how many tanks, fighter jets and missiles you may possess in your vast arsenal of weapons, the refusal of this tortured, wretched people to disappear into the night of history weakens you. For it acts as an uncomfortable reminder that when you return to your family each night after doing your duty, you do so with your humanity diminished.

It is why we say to you now that you are living on the wrong side of history – in a cold, lonely place called dishonor.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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