Tony Greenstein | 01 August 2016 | Post Views:

This is a really powerful essay by Gideon Levy, a
columnist on Ha’aretz, Israel’s sole remaining liberal paper.

Levy and Amira Hass, who is also on Ha’aretz, are
virtually the only remaining journalists in Israel who have dedicated
themselves to stopping the move to the racist far-right in Israel.  Unsurprisingly both are heavily criticised by
the Israeli Labour Party and under constant attack by nationalists.  They have to put up with constant death and other physical threats in this, the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ 

Tony Greenstein
may not be Nazi, nor even a fascist state. Yet it is a member of the same
terrible family, the family of evil states. Just consider these acts of evil
perpetrated by the state…
Gideon Levy Jul 30,
2016 7:29 PM

Israeli Border Police officers stand guard as Palestinians wait to cross through the Qalandiyah checkpoint, June 2016. Mohamad Torokman/Reuters

After we’ve cited
nationalism and racism, hatred and contempt for Arab life, the security cult
and resistance to the occupation, victimhood and messianism, one more element
must be added without which the behavior of the Israeli occupation regime
cannot be explained: Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake.
Sometimes, it’s the only explanation.

Eva Illouz described
its signs (“Evil now,” Haaretz Hebrew edition, July 30). Her essay, which
challenges the idea of the banality of evil, considers the national group as
the source of the evil. Using philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein’s concept, she
finds a “family resemblance” between the Israeli occupation and history’s evil
regimes. This similarity does not mean that Israel is Nazi, nor even fascist.
And yet it is a member of the same terrible family, the family of evil states.
It’s a depressing and brilliant analysis.
The evil that Illouz
attributes to Israel is not banal, it cannot happen anywhere, and it has
political and social roots that are deeply embedded in Israeli society. Thus,
Illouz joins Zeev Sternhell, who warned in his impressive and resounding essay
about the cultural soil out of which fascism is now growing in Israel (“The
birth of fascism,” Haaretz Hebrew edition, July 7).
But alongside these
analyses, we must also present a brief history of evil. We must present the
instances that combine to create a great and horrific picture, a picture of
Israeli evil in the territories, so as to stand up to those who deny the evil.
It is not the case of the individual – Sgt. Elor Azaria, for example, who is
being tried for the death of a subdued Palestinian assailant in Hebron – but
the conduct of the establishment and the occupation regime that proves the
evil. In fact, the continuation of the occupation proves the evil. Illouz,
Sternhell and others provide debatable analyses on its origins, but whatever
they are, it can no longer be denied.
One case is like a
thousand witnesses: the case of Bilal Kayed. A young man who completed a prison
term of 14.5 years – his entire sentence – without a single furlough, without
being allowed to at least say goodbye by phone to his dying father; a clear
sign of evil.
About six weeks ago,
Kayed was getting ready for his release. A representative of the Shin Bet
security service – one of the greatest agencies of evil in Israel – even showed
him a photograph of the home his family had built for him to stir him up even
more ahead of his release. And then, as his family waited impatiently for him
at the crossing point and Kayed grew ever more excited in his cell, he was
informed that he was being thrown into administrative detention for at least
another six months, without trial and without explanation.
Since then, he has
been on hunger strike. He is cuffed to his bed. His family is not allowed to
see him. Prison guards never leave his room and the lights are not turned out
for a moment. Evil.
Only evil can explain
the state’s conduct toward Kayed – only an evil state acts this way. The
arbitrary announcement, at the last moment, of a senseless detention is abuse,
and the way he has been treated since then is also abuse.
Only evil can explain
the detention last week of another young man, Hiran Jaradat, whose brother Arif
(who had Down syndrome) was killed in June and whose father died two days ago.
He is under arrest for “incitement on Facebook” and was not released to attend
his father’s funeral. Evil.
The continuation of
the detention of poet Darin Tatur – evil. The destruction of the tiny swimming
pool that the residents of Khirbet Tana in the northern West Bank had built for
themselves – evil. The confiscation of water tanks from a community of
shepherds in the Jordan Valley in the July heat – evil.
From left, Halima and Hadiba Kayed, the first wife of the father of administrative detainee Bilal Kayed, and Bilal’s mother, respectively, at home this month. Amira Hass
A great many of the
decisions of the occupation regime that decides the fates of individuals,
families, communities, villages and cities cannot be explained without evil.
The list is as long as the occupation. The extortion of sick people from Gaza
to enlist them as collaborators, the blockades on cities and towns for weeks,
the Gaza blockade, the demolition of homes – all evil.

Banal or not, its
existence must be acknowledged and it must be recognized as one of the most
influential values in Israel. Yes, there is an evil regime at work in Israel,
and therefore it is an evil state. 

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