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The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel

By       Message Ramzy Baroud       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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From Palestine Chronicle

Moshe Sharett with David Ben-Gurion at a meeting in 1955.
Moshe Sharett with David Ben-Gurion at a meeting in 1955.
(Image by (Wikimedia Commons))
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For some, the "manslaughter" conviction -- following the murder by Israeli army medic, Elor Azaria, of already incapacitated Palestinian man, Fattah al-Sharif -- is finally settling a protracted debate regarding where Israelis stand on Palestinian human rights.

Nearly 70 percent of the Israeli public supports calls to pardon the convicted soldier, who is largely perceived among Israelis as the "child of us all."

Israeli leaders are also lining up to lend their support to Azaria and his family. These sympathetic politicians include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and ministers Naftali Bennett and Miri Regev, among others. Leading opposition leaders are also on board.

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Pro-Israeli pundits, who never miss an opportunity to highlight Israel's supposed moral ascendancy took to social media, describing how the indictment further demonstrates that Israel is still a country of law and order.

They seem to conveniently overlook palpable facts. Reporting on the verdict, "The Times of Israel," for example, wrote that "last time an IDF soldier was convicted of manslaughter was in 2005, for the killing of British civilian Tom Hurndall two years earlier."

Between these dates, and years prior, thousands of Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip alone, mostly in the Israeli wars of 2008-9, 2012 and 2014. Although thousands of children and civilians were killed and wounded in Gaza and the rest of the Occupied Territories and, despite international outcries against Israel's violations of international law, there is yet to be a single conviction in Israeli courts.

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But why is it that some commentators suggest that the Azaria trial and the show of unity around his cause by Israeli society is an indication of some massive change underway in Israel?

Yoav Litvin, for example, argues in "TeleSur" that the "precedent set by this case will further solidify the complete dehumanization of Palestinians and pave the way for further ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."

In an article, entitled: "Like Brexit and Trump, Azaria verdict exposes a moment of transition in Israel," Jonathan Cook also eluded to a similar idea. "The soldier's trial, far from proof of the rule of law, was the last gasp of a dying order," he wrote.

Neither Litvin nor Cook are suggesting that the supposed change in Israel is substantive but an important change, nonetheless.

But if the past and the present are one and the same, where is the "transition," then?

The creation of Israel atop the ruins of Palestine, the ethnic cleansing that made Israel's "independence" possible, the subsequent wars, occupation and sieges are all devoid of any morality.

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Indeed, Israel was established with the idea in mind that a "Jewish state" is not possible without the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinian Arabs.

In a letter to his son in 1937, David Ben Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister after the country's establishment in 1948, wrote: "We must expel the Arabs and take their places and if we have to use force, to guarantee our own right to settle in those places then we have force at our disposal."

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Ramzy Baroud is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold (more...)

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