By Bradley Burston, July 03, 2008.
JERUSALEM – What, exactly, is a decent person supposed to think?
On a quiet and clear morning in Jerusalem, a woman is driving toward the heart
of the city, her infant with her in the car. There is nothing to fear.
It is not a military area, it is not a sector of occupation, it is not a settlement –
Jews have lived and worked here for more than a century. Jewish doctors and
nurses were treating Arab infants, women, the elderly and the infirm here as
early as 1902, when Shaare Tzedek Hospital opened across the street.
There is nothing to fear.
Except for the man behind the wheel of a bulldozer, who has taken it upon
himself to kill Jews. Not Israeli security force personnel, not occupation troops,
not the Shin Bet. Jews. Women and children and the elderly and the infirm.
Jews who may be in favor of an independent Palestinian state. Jews who have
nothing against Arabs. Jews who may work to end the occupation. Jews.
When the killing starts, the woman behind the wheel does what Jews have
learned to do since the Holocaust, and for 2,000 years before that: Save your
child. Whatever it takes.
She manages to throw her infant out the side window and clear of the car
before the Hero of Palestine steers the massive earth mover toward her car and
crushes it flat.
It doesn’t take long, after the Hero of Palestine has finished overturning buses
full of Jews – and Arabs as well – and driving over other cars, even backing up
to crush one twice, before the public relations and marketing department of
Hamas had formulated its praise for the attack.
“We consider it as a natural reaction to the daily aggression and crimes
committed against our people in the West Bank and all over the occupied
lands,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told the press.
Natural. Only natural.
The attack came after the latest in a series of attempts by groups in the states,
some of them atheist/anarchist, some of them Muslim, some of them Jewish, to
lobby Protestant churches and respected universities to divest from Caterpillar,
because the IDF uses its bulldozers to demolish Palestinian homes.
I would like to hear them now. Just once. I would like them to divest from
terrorism. Not understand it as the natural outgrowth of the crimes of
occupation. For once, I would like my sisters and brothers on the left to be
every bit as hard on their comrades the Palestinians for taking a bulldozer and
crushing Jews, as they are on Israel for bulldozing homes.
Write a letter to Ismail Haniyeh, to Mahmoud Zahar, to Sami Anu Zuhri. Protest
in your own communities, for once, calling terrorism what it is. Intentional,
brutal, premeditated, immoral. Murder.
What’s a decent person supposed to think?
That it’s all right to launch rockets against residential areas during a cease-fire,
because the occupation is still going on? That it’s all right to crush Jewish
civilians, because the occupation has not been halted and settlers continue to
What’s a decent person to think when Palestinian groups fall over one another
trying to claim the bulldozer attack? And when one of the groups is the Fatah
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade?
What’s a decent person to think when the man who drove the bulldozer was
himself the father of two, a construction worker from East Jerusalem, whose
desire to kill Jews – and, in so doing, further soil and damage the cause and
name of Palestine – was greater than his feeling for the mother who had to
throw her baby from a car to save it?
I, for one, would like to ask for proof of what it is that Palestinians really want.
I no longer believe that it’s as simple as wanting statehood.
This is what I don’t yet want to admit: that for all these years, in 2008 no less
than in 1902, what a critical mass of Palestinians want most, perhaps even
more than statehood, may be as simple as the vile thrill of vengeance, as
straightforward as nothing more than seeing Jews dead and gone.