Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank

Israel: a liminal state that knows no boundaries, literally and figuratively

By Orly Noy (Translated by Sol Salbe)

Having seen the Benjamin Regional Council [on the West Bank] posting its “Warm congratulations to the next Chief of Staff of the IDF, Major General Herzi Levy, a resident of Kfar Oranim in the Benjamin district”, I got intrigued and did some reading about the “village” where the general comes from.

Beyond the fact that the income of wage and salary earners in the place was the highest in Israel in 2016, I also learnt that “the Green Line runs through the southern boundary of the village, so that some of the houses in the location are within the Green Line and some beyond it.”

So is the next Chief of Staff of the military a settler who lives outside the Green Line, or a citizen who lives within the borders of the country whose army he will head? We don’t know. Such a liminal Chief of Staff. A liminality that symbolically reflects so well the long-standing de facto erasure of the line delineating the army from the settlers in the Occupied Territories, who already operate as joint militias in the pogroms they conduct in the Palestinian towns and villages on the West Bank. Does it matter if the Green Line runs east or west of the house of the next chief of staff, in the wealthy community where he lives?

This is an almost a trifling question in a country where the blurring of boundaries is a form of ideology. It so happens that I ended up watching several news and current affairs programs today, all of which dealt with the shooting of the soldiers’ bus in the Jordan Valley. All of them, without exception, used the term “terrorists” in reference to the Palestinian shooters. In all of them, without exception, the description avoided mentioning the basic fact that the shooting at the soldiers was done in the Occupied Territories. This may seem like natural coverage to the Israelis, but in fact the distinction between shooting at soldiers in occupied territories, which by definition is not an act of terrorism, and shooting at civilians, is first and foremost in the interest of the Israeli public itself. Because if we don’t distinguish between shooting at soldiers (again — in occupied territory!) and shooting at civilians, why should we expect the Palestinian struggle to make this distinction?

In Israel, this is a question that is not only illegitimate, but not understood at all. A liminal country with a liminal Chief of Staff and a liminal morality that knows no boundaries, literally and figuratively.

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