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Hebrew University
Victoria Buch (chemistry): Israel's "Racism" is the Worst in the World
V. Buch 2.4.05
The following paradox never ceases to amaze me:
Why do mainstream Israelis collaborate with the
Occupation? Most of them are unenthusiastic about
the settlement enterprise. You may often hear from
them “I do not support the settlers”  “I would gladly give up the Territories for 
peace”. And while nationalist hype exists in 
Israel, it is limited. During the first two 
years of this Intifada I accompanied Palestinians
in need of treatment to Israeli hospitals. 
Once they managed to get there, a considerable 
number of Israelis tried ard to help them. In 
everyday situation you can find much decency, 
generosity, tolerance and human warmth in Israel.And yet the sons of these same people serve in 
the army, endanger their lives in the Occupied 
Territories, and shoot at Palestinians when ordered to. For example: since the beginning of the Intifada, 
the Israeli army was involved in systematic devastation 
of the Gaza Strip. Not only in response to recent 
attacks on Sderot - the Qassams are a relatively 
new phenomenon. For a couple of years before the 
Qassams, the army activity in the Strip could only 
be described as offensive. Military incursion occurred 
every few weeks - a string of attacks on densely  
populated Palestinian neighborhoods, in which the 
inhabitants have nowhere  to hide and nowhere 
to escape. Destruction of fields was carried out
 –  more than half of the arable land in the Gaza 
Strip was bulldozed. And  massive home-demolitions 
took place – tens of thousands of people  became 
homeless. All that for the obvious purpose of 
maintaining several  thousand settlers on the 
choice Gazan real estate. (Those Gaza settlers  
who will supposedly be evacuated in July. But 
as yet none has been  allowed to leave even if 
willing) Why are Israeli soldiers willing to 
participate in this villainy?Similar questions can be raised in connection 
with recent economic hardships, which affect 
most of the Israeli public. Why is there no 
significant oposition to the economic policies? 
Israel  is broke, the state funds are subverted 
to the occupation enforcement, and to grandiose 
construction projects – settlement expansion, 
the  Fence, a lunatic system of roads and tunnels 
to make settler life  comfortable, and Palestinian 
life impossible. For all other public sectors –  
health and social services, education - severe 
budget cuts are enforced.  Recently, vast cuts 
were announced in the university budgets. The 
response of my colleagues was meek – and in the 
past these same colleagues used to organize strikes 
upon minor infringements on their salary rights.  There is no serious opposition to the government 
anywhere. Sharon is generally perceived as an
opponent of settlers and a peacemaker, rather 
than as the chief settler. At a Women-in-Black (!) 
demonstration I heard some highly educated ladies 
wondering “Would you believe that Sharon would 
change so much?” Why, for God’s sake, are intelligent 
people willing to believe – again – in the good 
intentions of an old man with a life-long record 
of racism, brutality, brazen lies, and blatant 
disregard for human life?Of course, there is nothing unusual about ordinary 
people electing vicious leaders and executing 
their designs – in the 21st century as well as 
any other time in history, here and elsewhere. 
Why did US citizens reelect President Bush? Why 
did Italians choose for their leader an obvious 
crook? Why are the Americans and the Brits willing 
to kill and die in Iraq, and the Russians – in 
Chechnya? Don’t they see that this is the way 
to promote terror, not to fight it, and that 
they themselves carry out terror acts in the 
process?But the question “why” is still of interest, 
and I shall try to address it for the case of 
my country, since this is the one I know and 
care about most.Early socialist Zionists had an upbeat slogan: 
“A nation without a land to a land without a 
nation!” The uncomfortable fact that Arabs already 
inhabited this land, and that we have to learn 
to share this land with them was not generally 
assimilated. The average Israeli citizen is 
encouraged to “imagine the Arabs out”, and he/she 
generally succeeds at it. Mainstream Israelis do not argue with people 
like us, who may use the rude word “occupation” 
in a polite conversation. We are not “in”, we 
are “people of bad taste”, we do not have “balanced 
opinions”, and therefore we should be ignored. 
Descriptions of ugly occupation facts are conceived 
by them as highly unpleasant opinions, or 
exaggerations -  “Our nice Jewish boys do not 
do that kind of thing.” Now some soldiers are 
trying to break this barrier of denial by reporting 
on what they were actually ordered to do 
(via Breaking the Silence). The message does not 
register. A recent newspaper poll showed that 
a vast majority of Israeli Jews have confidence 
in their army.The Israeli leaders have been doing more than 
just imagining out – they implemented policies 
of confiscation of Arab land, oppression, and 
expulsions – the obvious end-objective being to
get rid of as many Arabs as possible. But our 
leaders have a deep understanding of the need 
of the Israeli bourgeois to feel good about 
themselves. So a ental “Separation Fence” of 
axioms and slogans was built around the Israeli 
collective psyche. The fence is so tall, that 
most people are unable to see outside. The 
fence is composed of several tiers of propaganda 
dogmas (which are taken for granted, no matter 
how preposterous) – so if a citizen manages to 
cross the first tier, there are several to go. 
The fence keeps them cozy inside, and protects 
them from unpleasant thoughts, but the price is 
serving the settlers and the occupation. For  
years, the religious-national parties insisted 
upon running the ministry of education in all 
governments in which they participated, and for 
a good reason. A major aspect of Israeli (or any other) propaganda 
system is renaming. Give an ugly thing – in this 
case a dirty colonial war – a pleasant-sounding 
name  such as “fight against terror” or “fight 
for existence”, and you shall be obeyed. Four 
past heads of the Shabak (Israeli General 
Security Service) stated in a widely publicized 
article that the present policy of settlement 
expansion cum closure-of-Arabs endangers the 
very existence of the state of Israel. These 
statements did not register in the heads of 
Israeli soldiers – or their parents – most 
of whom still believe devoutly in their Fight 
against Terror. Their need to imagine themselves 
the good guys of the storybook is overwhelming. In the minds of most Jewish-Israeli citizens, 
their army is unassailable. For years, kids have 
been taught that being an “idealist” is synonymous 
with a “soldier in an elite combat unit”. 
Recently, I spoke to a highly educated  gentleman 
who for years did his reservist service in 
Lebanon. His son  serves now in the Gaza Strip. 
The man is proud of his military past and of 
his son’s military present. I did not even try 
to challenge his pride, just to explain the 
ugly realities of the Occupied Territories. 
His face went blank, as if he suddenly heard 
Chinese. He did not become unfriendly, just 
switched the subject. On the personal level, 
this man is respectable, conscientious, and 
decent. It was as if I were trying to explain 
a very literal Christian that one cannot have 
babies without sex - the virginity of the state 
of Israel is unassailable. The words “Security 
of State” put most Israelis into a mental 
equivalent of stand-at-attention. After that 
a man’s mind goes blank, and you can order him 
to do anything, including activities highly 
detrimental to the Security of that same State.Occasionally one encounters some distinctly 
left-wing people whose sons serve in the Territories; 
these parents not only worry about their sons’ 
safety, but also suffer morally, albeit quietly. 
An overriding consideration seems to be that 
the parents want their kids to be “in”. 
And in this country, the traditional way to be 
“in” is the army service. People want to be able 
to say proudly “My boy serves in a paratroopers 
unit”. And they are unable to confront their 
young man, proudly wearing his new uniform: 
“Son, you are participating in a dirty colonial 
war, which also endangers the State of Israel - 
get out of the army”. Moreover, most Israelis console themselves with 
a belief that it is all temporary. “The Fence  
can be removed if Palestinians behave. The 
settlements can be removed  but are a valuable 
chip in future negotiations for a permanent 
peace settlement. Meanwhile we have to protect 
the settlers, since they are Israeli citizens. 
But one may hope for the best. There are 
positive developments towards peace, promoted 
by our statesman-like de Gaulle-like Ariel Sharon.” 
It is hard to believe that people would believe 
that crap, but they do. This is what they get 
from the government-sposored media. The text tier of the mental “separation fence” 
is composed of the paranoia-cum-victim-complex, 
which is diligently cultivated by our 
government. For example Israelis are told that 
Europe is anti-Semitic and there are many people 
there who want to destroy us. Certainly, one 
can find Jew-haters in Europe. But the European 
racism is directed much more against Muslims 
and Africans than against Jews, and in any 
case the level of racism is nothing compared 
to that practiced by Israel towards Palestinians. 
But the government propaganda sinks into 
Israeli minds - you can hear liberal, 
apparently reasonable people repeating it. 
The propaganda has several uses. Most people do 
not even try to read European media critical of 
Israel. Every critical article is equated to 
“anti-Semitic”. And most people think they have 
to support the government, “because the world 
out there is against us all and we have to stick 
together since this is the only country we have”. 
The thought that we should oppose this government 
which is destroying the one-and-only country 
crosses the minds of amazingly few Israelis. 
It is much more emotionally gratifying to feel 
sorry for oneself.Even more, the paranoia-cum-victim-complex is 
cultivated towards Palestinians. Soldiers are 
taught that “Every Palestinian is a Potential 
Terrorist, from whom Tel Aviv children must be 
saved”. The Sharon tricks are simple – make the 
life of Palestinians as desperate and as hopeless 
as possible, and you get a steady flow of terror. 
Tell the Israeli soldiers that every Palestinian is 
a terror suspect – and you get dehumanization.  
Station soldiers in or near the settlements – 
and you get solidarity (“I met such nice people 
in the settlements”). And after the army discharge –  
a young man can get a cheap family home – in 
a settlement only. It is not surprising that 
a soldier feels a duty to protect a settler, no
matter how violent, and to harass a Palestinian, 
no matter how peaceful.Did you see Tom Stoppard’s play “Rosenkrantz 
and Gilderstern are Dead”? In the play, two 
ordinary guys (adopted from Hamlet) stumble 
into a fabulous show with kings, queens and 
princes, and cannot bring themselves to escape, 
although the bad end is visibly nearing. 
Getting out of the play and non-belonging is 
worse than dying. The same seems to go for my 
Israeli compatriots. In their collective mind, 
they live in a nice democratic Jewish state, 
struggling for its existence. They do not know 
any other script. And perhaps it is even simpler. Most Israelis 
are engrossed in their daily lives, do not 
personally know any Arabs, and encounter 
occupation only via the “laundered” Israeli 
news. Most Israelis understand nothing of what 
has become of their country. Many are nice gentle 
people. That’s democracy for you!
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