One can easily understand the Palestinian and the Arab responses to the findings of the official Commission of Inquiry established by the Israeli government to investigate the circumstances surroundingÂ Muhammad al-Durrah’s death. Still, these findings are starting to assume a prominent position in the Palestinian narrative, and swiping the flag that once fluttered at the top of that flagpole. That isn’t easy to do. My problem isn’t with the Arab response, but with the Israeli response, and by that I don’t mean the Israeli Arabs, who have long considered themselves to be Palestinians, intrinsically linked to the Palestinian experience. My problem is with the Israeli response among Israeli Jews, Zionists, who lie within the Israeli mainstream and are well acquainted with the culture of fantasies and lies that surround us. My problem is with those who are intimately aware of the hypocritical business of delegitimization, which has thrived at our expense for an entire era.
I have no idea where this comparison between the al-Durrah affair and the Yom Kippur and Lebanon wars actually came from. What could these events possibly have in common? After both the Yom Kippur and Lebanon wars, Israel engaged in an act of introspection in an effort to contend with thousands of casualties and a troubling decision-making process. The highest echelons of the political and military leadership went through a punishing grilling, as is customary in Israel. Ministers of defense were removed, governments fell and generals and chiefs-of-staff lost everything they had worked so hard to achieve. By the way, after spending 53 years roaming the Middle East, I’m still waiting to see one of the neighboring democracies form a single Commission of Inquiry like those. Just one. There simply haven’t been any.
But I have something else that I want to say to Shlomi Eldar. Right now, I really don’t care about theÂ Palestinian narrative surrounding al-Durrah. As far as I am concerned, the main square in the town of Givatayim could be named after him. I don’t pin a lot of hope in the mob that surrounds us. No official Commission of Inquiry created by the Israeli government will succeed in changing the culture of hypocrisy and lies that still permeates the Arab world surrounding us. What interests me is what would happen if an Israeli soldier, and not some Syrian rebel, were photographed taking a bite out of the still throbbing heart of his enemy, who is lying dead at his feet. I want to know what would happen if 100,000 civilians were slaughtered in Jenin and Ramallah and Nablus in two years, instead of in Syria. The reason that I’m not upset is that I know exactly what would happen. We’ve gotten used to being the punching bag for the violent mob that surrounds us. Welcome to the Middle East.