We are good because we’re Jews

Yitzhak Laor writes in Haaretz that the Israeli establishment isn’t too good at acknowledging the country’s profound failings towards the Palestinians. The signs of an immature nation:

On June 19, 1977, the Sunday Times marked the 10-year anniversary of the occupation with a wide-ranging expose on the torture of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The report concluded that torture was so widespread and systematic that it was impossible to dismiss these deeds as “‘rogue’ cops exceeding orders. It appears to be sanctioned as deliberate policy.”

Israel’s denial was, of course, adamant. No Israeli newspaper addressed the accusations directly. Our ambassador in London said the morality of the prophets does not permit torture, and therefore these charges were baseless. It was Menachem Begin of all people, who had just formed his government, who expressed shock and ordered the Shin Bet to cease and desist.

Yet the logic of occupation and the defense establishment were stronger than the shock of the former underground leader. Then came the Bus 300 affair and Izat Nafso, the Circassian Israel Defense Forces officer convicted of espionage in 1984, and it reminded all of us that the Sunday Times report was more accurate than the denials, and was more accurate even than Begin’s good intentions.

On the other hand, every Israeli poll about torture or atrocities would reveal, beyond a shadow of a doubt, simple truths: first, this can’t be so; second, it is right; third, they started it.

Anyone who thinks this logic belongs solely to bizarre internet talkbackers needs to read Ehud Barak’s initial reaction to the soldiers’ testimonies from Gaza: “The IDF is the most moral army in the world.” Fact.

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