Yossi Klein Halevi: No more feeling guilty


Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Yossi Klein Halevi tells how continuing Palestinian violence has cured him of being a “guilty Israeli.”

In the early 1990s, while serving as a reservist soldier in Gaza, I became a guilty Israeli. By day, my unit patrolled the refugee camps where sewage flowed in rivulets and old men stared with hatred and children with despair. By night, we entered bedrooms and retrieved suspects whose offenses ranged from membership in terror organizations to failure to pay a water bill. More policemen than soldiers, we found ourselves enforcing an occupation whose threat to Israel’s Jewish and democratic values had become unbearable.

According to Halevi, it’s not just him, thanks to a series of diplomatic betrayals and violent attacks.

The result of all this is that today the guilty Israeli has become nearly extinct. Just as we came to realize during the first intifada that the occupation was untenable, so we have now come to realize that peace is impossible with Palestinian leaders for whom reconciliation is a one-way process.

Now, he says, the true test will be what happens in Gaza.

So long as Gaza refuses to heal itself, Israelis will rightly suspect that the Palestinian goal remains Israel’s destruction. Not even a full withdrawal from the West Bank, they fear, will end the war, any more than the pullout from Gaza stopped the rockets. Israel’s crime isn’t occupying but existing.

And so we move toward the next terrible round of conflict. This time, though, for all our anguish, we will feel a lot less remorse. Because even guilty Israelis realize that, until our neighbors care more about building their state than undermining ours, the misery of Gaza will persist.

Recommended from JTA