Letter to an Israeli soldier

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Five years ago you launched your murderous air, land and sea assault against the two million men, women and children you continue to keep imprisoned in the Gaza Strip.

Victims of yours, the collective punishment of the oppressor, they remained unbowed even as your bombs and your missiles rained down, targeting hospitals, schools, civic buildings, homes, police stations, even UN compounds where people had sought sanctuary; still believing, despite decades of disappointment and betrayal, in the sanctity and protection of international law.

Your bombs sought and found their victims, incinerating and blowing to smithereens young and old alike, while your government attempted to convince the world that every effort was being made to avoid civilian casualties in what they described as a military operation to root out terrorism and provide security for its citizens. It was a lie, just as everything you stand and fight for is a lie. It is the age-old lie of might is right clothed in the garb of democracy and progress.

After the air assault came your ground invasion - and who could ever forget the pictures of you and your comrades, fully armed and equipped for combat, marching into the night, over the hopes and lives of the children who in just a few hours were destined to be blown apart by the guns and the bullets you carried so proudly as a testament to your superior culture and values?

You were marching into a part of the world you had ensured remained cut off from the rest of humanity, a punishment you inflicted on the people living there for daring to exercise their democratic right to choose their own government? But this government refuses to recognise us, you assert, revealing a grotesque expectation be recognised by a people who have been systematically expropriated, brutalised and dehumanised since 1948, when your state was formed.

By the end of your assault, which lasted seven weeks, 2,220 dead Palestinians bore witness to the truth of your barbarism and savagery. Among the dead were 551children and 292 women, while thousands more were maimed and traumatised. The meagre medical facilities available to treat them, purposely and cynically starved of supplies, equipment and medicines throughout your years long siege, could not cope with the sheer number of casualties you created, many with injuries so horrific they were unrecognisable as human beings.

But to you this is a matter of no concern, because you and the cause you fight for never recognised them as human beings in the first place.

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Gaza was left in ruins and thousands were eft homeless with no materials with which to rebuild shattered lives, entitled to ask again if to be born Palestinian is to be born less than human; entitled to ask if they’d been condemned by the great powers to a fate of negation and extinction — their history, culture and rights denied; entitled to ponder if they really are children of a lesser god?

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But no matter the calumny and lies employed by your government, whose representatives throughout your murderous assault appeared on our TV screens with the confidence of those who claim to act in the name of democracy and civilisation, who claim to speak and act in the name of past victims of mass murder while practicing it today, the Palestinians continue to refuse to play the role chosen by you. They refuse to acquiesce in their own destruction, and drawing hope from the truth that man never made anything as resilient as the human spirit in resistance to oppression and injustice, they continue to endure.

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But something now has changed; something irreversible which no amount of hasbara and lies will be able to surmount. The world saw with its own eyes that Israel is not the besieged victim beset on all sides by savage enemies bent on its destruction, as it has always proclaimed. As they came out in their unprecedented millions across the world in solidarity with the Palestinians, people understood as never before that this is a lie; one that sits at the very heart of the matter.

Zionism has less to do with Judaism and more to do with white supremacy. It is a racist colonialist creed that stands as a monument to murder and terror. In their millions around the world, people have declared that no longer will they stand by and bear witness to occupation, oppression, and crimes against humanity carried out in the name of security. Too many times in the past the world has stood by, with the names and dates of past atrocities a warning of the abyss into which humanity has sunk before and could sink again unless the world remains vigilant.

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Guernica 1937: the Warsaw Ghetto 1942: My Lai 1968: Fallujah 2003: Gaza 2008/09 and 2014.

The victims of these atrocities are joined by a common bond of humanity that transcends race, religion or culture. They are history’s victims and as such belong to all of us, sitting in judgment on what we, the living, do in their name to rectify the crimes committed against them.

It is not vengeance the world seeks but justice — and justice for the Palestinians can only begin when the injustice that has placed a wall around your own humanity is ended. End the siege, tear down the apartheid wall, remove the checkpoints, and free not only those you have imprisoned all these years but just as important, free yourself.

You affirm time and again that Israel has the right to exist. Yes, but not as an apartheid state, not as a state which exists at the negation of a people whose only crime is that they continue to exist on land which you have long since decided is yours by right and might. No matter how many tanks, fighter jets, and missiles you may possess in your vast arsenal of weapons, the refusal of this tortured, wretched but dignified people to disappear into the night of history weakens you. For it acts as an uncomfortable reminder that when you return to your family each night after doing your ‘duty’, you do so with your humanity diminished.

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It is why we say to you now, five years on, that you are living on the wrong side of history — in a cold, lonely place called dishonour.

End.

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