Reprinted from Wallwritings
Amira Hass is a Jewish journalist who has worked since 1993 as Ha'aretz' correspondent in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.
Born in Jerusalem in 1956, Hass has been with Haaretz since 1989. She has lived in the West Bank city of Ramallah since 1997.
Prior to 1997, Hass was posted to Gaza for three years, an assignment which led her to write her book, published in 2000, Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege, essential reading for understanding the impact of Israel's occupation of Palestine.
One comment on her book may still serve an accurate description of Amira Hass' current Ha'aretz columns, all written from within the Palestinian Occupied Territories:
"Full of testimonies and stories, facts and impressions, Drinking the Sea at Gaza makes an urgent claim on our humanity. Beautiful, haunting, and profound, it will stand with the great works of wartime reportage."
Hass wrote extensively about Israel's latest invasion of Gaza. She is widely acclaimed and just as widely disdained within Israel, for her honest reporting on her country's actions in the occupied territories.
One recent column is entitled, The Genius of Israeli Evil: It Poses as Concern and Compassion.
Hass begins this particular column with the flat statement that "Israeli evil is not at all banal," evoking the memory of the emotional debate over Hannah Arendt's 2006 book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, in which Arendt described Eichmann's evil as banal conduct derived from personal ignorance, and indifference to, the suffering of the millions of Jews who died under his command.
For Amira Hass, there is nothing banal about Israel's current evil. This is evil performed not from ignorance but under the pretense of "concern and compassion."
"Abundant in inventions and innovations as well as in age-old techniques, [the evil Israel embodies] trickles like water and bursts out from hidden places. But unlike floods, it does not reach an end, and it affects some while being invisible, undetectable and non-existent for others. The genius of Israeli evil is in its ability to disguise itself as compassion and concern."
Hass has written extensively, and movingly, about the impact of Israel's occupation on the Palestinian village of Deir el-Hatab, which had a population of 223 in 1922. The most recent census, in 2007, reported, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, that Deir al-Hatab had a population of 2,213 inhabitants.
Those residents had a peaceful existence, one that depended largely on farming, a rural existence where families lived close to their land. The peace was shattered, however, with the arrival of religious extremist Jewish settlers who began looking for land to settle in the early 1970s.
Their conduct was illegal under international law and, depending on the whims of the Israeli government of the moment, also illegal under Israeli law.
As illegal settlements spread, the settlers' political power grew, which caused the Israeli government to shift on what was legal.