The state of Israel has become hell, into which not only sinners — but also the innocent — may be cast at any moment. According to statistics from the Prime Minister's office, more Israelis have been murdered in the past month in Israel than those murdered since January 2007 in the territory of the Palestinian Authority.
Israeli soldiers from Medical Corp take part in an urban warfare drill in front of the media at Tzrifin military base in Rishon Letzion, near Tel Aviv August 18, 2009. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Nowadays Tel Aviv's beaches are more dangerous than the West Bank's cities. Kids are blowing each other away and are charged with rape. Their role models are gangsters. Police and teachers are attacked regularly. Old people are afraid to walk the streets at night and even the police are scared.
Over one weekend, people were found — some unidentified — dismembered and burned, butchered and drowned. And who remembers the slaughter at the gay club or the father who killed his toddler maliciously? There is more violence in a week in Israel now than there was in a year in New York City in the 80s.
The crime wave has sparked a sharp rise in requests for firearm permits, which has seen a 50 percent hike over the past months. According to the interior ministry, it has received 1,000 requests for firearm permits this year, compared to 500 in previous years. Beyond first-time requests for a firearm license, there is also a significant increase in the number of appeals lodged by citizens whose requests have been turned down.
This is clearly the outcome of occupation. When a state has a military society and military action, which is a form of violence whether one likes to admit it or not, is always called upon as a first choice or option in confronting dangers and threats, then this will evidently spill over into society. Today in Israel, youngsters don't respect their elders, domestic abuse is common, violence in public is common, aggression is everywhere, and there you have it: "The Israeli occupation has corrupted its own society."
When you live in an environment in which others are less than human and can be treated with contempt legally, it will eventually cause the society to take on those values. I believe a society that prides itself on violence and occupation will eventually corrupt its own soul.
Israel has abandoned its old virtues of common purpose, high minded goals and social responsibility. It's obsessed with blatant power and unrestrained greed. Is it any wonder that young people adopt the attitudes and actions of their society?
Israel has discarded its Judaic culture and civilization for aggression and violence and has decided there is nothing in the world more important than occupation, and thus everything which did not produce aggression was worthless. They've allowed the lowest-common-denominator of evil to rule while goodness is discarded.
It isn't that the U.S. lacked evil 60 years ago, but at least it saw goodness as better than evil, humanity better than ruthlessness, and humanitarianism as superior to unfettered greed.
The isolationist nationalist "me against the world" mentality put forth by Israel to its people internally which has led to endless various brutal occupations, resource theft, etc., is raising people who are acting with the same impunity. Settlers are now building more caravans to stave off the U.S. push for freezing settlements. Construction of 12 trailers on private Palestinian land has begun near the settlement of Kochav Yaakov near Ramallah.
The Israeli government should hardly be surprised by the crime statistics. They regularly condone violence by settlers, whom it fails to bring to trial or even arrest. It condones unnecessary harassment of Palestinians and forces young people in the army to be complacent in perpetuating that harassment. If the Israeli government had been teaching democracy and values, they would not be seeing so many Jews murdering, stealing and cheating.
Benyamin Netanyahu chose a foreign minister who regularly engages in threats and verbal violence befitting the nightclub bouncer that he was, and he is now under suspicion for a wide range of crimes.
Netanyahu can hardly expect society to adopt a better set of ethics until he and his government begin to provide a better example and condemn their own violence and criminal actions instead of evading the law.
If Israel ever had anything of which to be proud of, those days are over. No technological advances can ever make up for violence and cruelty. The only nation that can be proud of itself in this day and age is the one that can instill a sense of human empathy in the hearts of its citizens. Bombs, bullets, knives and hatred inflict the same searing physical pain on all human beings whatever religion or race they are. None of us are exempt.
Israelis are responsible for each and every decision made by their government. People elect leaders who most reflect their thoughts. Israelis are scared of the Palestinians because they think they're Nazis, they believe they will be massacred unless the IDF, Mossad, or Shinbet keeps Palestinians paralyzed. By constantly believing there is "no one to talk to" – they've created a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Israelis have to be self critical and ask the right questions. Pull out of Palestinian lands, stop your monopoly over Jerusalem, build the proper infrastructure for peace, and learn how to compromise, because if your enemies don't destroy you, God forbid, you will destroy yourself from within.
The author is professor of interdisciplinary studies at The University of Toledo in Ohio.