Soldiers sound the air horn
Israeli soldiers have spoken up about the atrocities committed in Gaza. Linda Heard, a commentator for Arab News, asks that we listen and act.
July 21, 2009 4:07 by Linda Heard
There is no such thing as a moral war. There is no such thing as a clean war. There will always be individual soldiers who commit atrocities and there will always be civilians who get caught in the cross-fire. And, as the American philosopher and theologian Howard Thurman rightly said, “During times of war hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.”
That said, unless we are prepared to acknowledge that man with all his religious beliefs and supposed ethics is, in reality, no more spiritually evolved than the animal kingdom, conflict must be waged on the basis of universal rules. Now it appears that Israel’s 22-day siege on defenseless Gaza was not.
“Breaking the Silence” is an organization consisting of veteran Israeli soldiers who demand accountability for Israel’s actions in “the occupied territories perpetrated by us and in our name.” Members object to its military’s institutional abuse of Palestinians and destruction of Palestinian-owned property, which they say is often excused as military necessity or explained as extreme and unique cases. The group maintains that immoral commands are being issued by the top down and wants to forcibly remove the blinkers from Israeli society, which still holds to the lie that their military is the most moral in the world.
To this end, the group asks soldiers about their personal experiences and publishes these interviews on its website although it must be said that the names of such interviewees remain confidential. Recent publication of soldiers’ testimonies related to Operation Cast Lead has caused a firestorm within Israel. “Breaking the Silence” is simultaneously being applauded for its efforts to shine a light on the truth and is also coming under heavy attack for airing Israel’s dirty laundry in public. Some Israelis question the veracity of the report and the credibility of the participants. Others say it is based on too much hearsay and not enough hard facts.