Marc Goldberg
Marc Goldberg

Are Israelis immoral for being occupiers?

When police investigate a crime you expect them to start with the victim and look for the perpetrator. When the NGO Breaking the Silence is involved the investigation (or in this case “probe”) starts with the perpetrator and ends with the perpetrator.

A few months ago the spokesman for Breaking the Silence, Dean Issacheroff, confessed on stage to beating a Palestinian man in Hebron while a serving officer in the Nahal Brigade of the IDF.

Police opened a probe into the matter, found the Palestinian man Issacheroff was referring to. He claimed he had never been beaten. The police closed their probe and politicians announced that Issacheroff was a liar spewing nonsense in order to attack the state of Israel.

Breaking the Silence is an NGO composed of former Israeli combat soldiers who campaign against the occupation by sharing stories about what their service as occupiers involved. Reservists on Duty is an NGO composed of former Israeli combat soldiers who campaign against Breaking the Silence. It is their mirror image.

Former soldiers testifying that they did what they needed to do to protect their people during their service versus former soldiers arguing that what they were did was immoral and served no purpose necessary to secure the state of Israel.

Reservists on Duty have brought out a video composed of members of the company Issacharoff served in calling him a liar. Issacharoff claimed in his speech that he beat up his victim at the command of his company commander. This commander is prominent in the video. Few of Issacheroff’s own men are featured in it. Watch it here.

I don’t know what Dean Issacharoff thought would happen when he confessed to beating up a Palestinian man. Perhaps he thought he’d be arrested and spend time in prison but he surely didn’t expect the farce that followed. Today police officially cleared him of committing a crime and the politicians waded in to condemn him. Because that’s what this government does, it finds enemies and then beats them in public.

This whole affair has so much in it to unpack. When the Israeli who didn’t beat the Palestinian is reviled and abused by his own government.

That the Jew attempting to confess to abuses he committed is told there is no crime to confess to and shunned by the very people from whom he is asking for redemption…specifically because he asked for it.

That the Palestinian this is ostensibly about is merely a bit player in the story of Israeli occupation and Israeli justice with the Israeli military caught in the middle.

The truth is there’s nothing to see here. This is just a new sentence in the same ongoing conversation. An innocuous moment in the fight for the soul of Israel that’s been going on for 50 years in an attempt to answer the impossible question; are we moral for protecting our people or immoral for occupying theirs?

About the Author
Marc Goldberg is the author of Beyond the Green Line, a story his service in the IDF fighting through the al Aqsa Intifada