I just came back from the rally in Rabin Square that is being held in support of the soldier accused of killing a neutralized Palestinian terrorist. It’s a complicated story. Originally when the demonstration was announced I thought I would have to write a Newsweek article about the demonstration, but yesterdays hard news stories trumped todays news, so I think I can pass. Besides its late and i put much more effort into my Newsweek stories than I do for these blog posts.
It many ways it was a good day for Israel today, the court system worked. This morning Yosef Chaim Ben David who was the leader of the group that killed Abu Khdier the Arab teenager burned to death last year was found guilty of murder. The court rejected his plea of insanity. The judge hinted that he would be sentenced to life in prison. A short time later, Yishai Schlissel’s was convicted of murder for his attack on participants in the gay pride parade in Jerusalem last year.
Tonight a more complicated environment took place in downtown Tel Aviv as thousands came to Rabin Square to show their solidarity with the soldier who is accused of killing the Palestinian terrorist who had already been neutralized. The accused was not at the location at the time of the attack but arrived later. The crowd was surprisingly not the average right wing gathering. Only a small part of the crowd were religious. I spoke to many of the participants and one theme kept repeating itself, the kid could be any our kids. We sent him and we should stand behind him even if he made a mistake. It was a sentiment that I could understand and even sympathize with. My only problem comes down to the fact that he the soldier did not just make a mistake, he seemingly in cold blood killed the wounded terrorist.
People asked me at the rally how I would feel if it was my son, and when I heard both the Father and Mother of the soldier speak, my heart broke for the pain they are going through. The Mother was crying throughout her short speech. On the other hand, I would hope that my son whatever the circumstances and the general anger, would not go and just shoot someone.
It’s a hard story, there have certainly been many cases of soldiers losing it in war, killing POW’s and more. Take a look at this story of British soldier in Afghanistan. As I discussed with one religious woman from a settlement tonight, serving in Hebron is not easy for soldiers the pressures are high on all sides and its easy enough to just lose it. But should there be consequences? I worried after spending time on occupation duty in Gaza 35 years ago that the occupation would have terrible consequences for our society, it has whether we like it or not. So maybe we cannot blame the soldier who was sent to do an impossible job but it’s our society at large who cannot come up with a solution.
In some ways my saddest conversation tonight was with a man who kept on saying that we have to beat the terror once and for all. He was close to my age and when I reminded him that this has been going on in one form or another for our whole lives he just repeated but we have to beat it.