Reprinted from Gush Shalom
A PALESTINIAN youngster breaks into a settlement, enters the nearest house, stabs a 13-year old girl in her sleep and is killed.
Three Israeli men kidnap a 12-year old Palestinian boy at random, take him to an open field and burn him alive.
Two Palestinians from a small town near Hebron enter Israel illegally, have coffee in a Tel Aviv amusement quarter and then shoot up everybody around before they are captured. They become national heroes.
An Israeli soldier sees a severely wounded Palestinian attacker lying on the ground, approaches him and shoots him in the head at point blank range. He is applauded by most Israelis.
These are not "normal" actions even in a guerrilla war. They are the manifestations of bottomless hatred, a hatred so terrible that it overcomes all norms of humanity.
THIS WAS not always so. A few days after the 1967 war, in which Israel conquered East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, I traveled alone though the newly occupied territories. I was welcomed almost everywhere, people were eager to sell me their goods, tell me their stories. They were curious about the Israelis, much as we were curious about them.
At the time, Palestinians did not dream of an eternal occupation. They hated the Jordanian rulers and were glad that we had driven them out. They believed that we would leave soon, allowing them to rule themselves at long last.
In Israel, everyone spoke about a "benevolent occupation." The first military governor was a very humane person, Chaim Herzog, a future President of Israel and the father of the present chairman of the Labor Party.
Within a few years, all this had changed. The Palestinians realized that the Israelis did not intend to leave, but that they were about to steal their land, quite literally, and cover it with their settlements.
(Something similar happened 15 years later in South Lebanon. The Shiite population greeted our troops with flowers and rice, believing that we would drive the Palestinians out and leave. When we didn't, they turned into determined guerrilla fighters and eventually founded Hezbollah.)
By now, hatred is everywhere. Arabs and Israelis use different highways, but it is far worse than South African apartheid, because the whites there had no interest in driving the blacks out. It is also far worse than most forms of colonialism, because the imperial powers did not generally pull the land out from under the feet of the natives in order to settle there.
Nowadays, mutual hatred reigns supreme. The settlers terrorize their Arab neighbors, Arab boys throw rocks and improvised fire-bombs at passing Jewish cars on the highroads where they themselves are not allowed to drive. Recently, the car of a high-ranking army officer was stoned. He got out, pursued a boy who was running away, shot him in the back and killed him -- in flagrant violation of army rules for opening fire.
TODAY, SOME 120 years after the beginning of the Zionist experiment, the hatred between the two peoples is abysmal. The conflict dominates our lives. More than half of all news stories in the media concern this conflict.
If the founder of modern Zionism, the Viennese journalist Theodor Herzl, were to come to life again, he would be totally shocked. In the futuristic novel he wrote in German at the beginning of last century, called Altneuland ("Old-new Land"), he described in detail life in the future Jewish State. Its Arab inhabitants are portrayed as happy and patriotic citizens, grateful for all the progress and advantages brought by the Zionists.