Do we really love our soldiers? Do we care for their safety? Last week Staff Sgt. Natan Fitoussi was shot to death by a fellow soldier. For two days running, the story topped all the TV news programs and newspaper headlines. The news anchors lowered their voices and frowned, their faces forming the expressions that are reserved only for such occasions; the chief of staff was summoned; the investigation was swift. Family, friends, funeral, everything was covered. There isn’t a single Israeli who hadn’t heard of Staff Sgt. Fitoussi. Only the army dog Zili, who was killed in Nablus, received a similar performance of mourning.

This national mourning, dictated by the engineers of consciousness, had everything except for what should have been there. That’s the way we like our grief: exclusively for our own dead, hypocritical, self-righteous and ignoring the real questions about why they died. The exaggerated expression of grief over Fitoussi is meant to conceal the truth.

Fitoussi was not killed in an accident. He was killed because of policy. Turning him into a folk hero was meant to cover this up. The honor and esteem heaped on him in death are mean to blur the truth, which is that his death was not coincidental. The “investigative” military correspondent were quick to mention other soldiers who died recently in accidents. But Fitoussi was killed the way that dozens of people whom no one hears about are killed in Israel.

They are victims of the West Bank separation barrier exactly, but exactly, as Fitoussi was. The most recent was a 53-year-old laborer, who was killed not far from where Fitoussi was killed. Unfortunately for him, he was Palestinian, so no one investigated his death, under circumstances similar to that of Fitoussi: an itchy trigger finger, the sense that all is permitted, and a needless death.

When Nabil Ghanem approached the fence on June 19 and soldiers shot and killed him, no one thought his killing was an accident. To the soldiers he was a marked man, even if he had done nothing. That was also Fitoussi’s terrible fate. When soldiers are trained that the separation barrier is a death fence, that anyone who dares approach it risks his life, as in the barrier between East Germany and West Germany – innocent people will be killed: sometimes a Palestinian laborer, sometimes an Israeli soldier. Was the soldier who shot him supposed to figure out whether the suspicious person was Jewish or Arab? Shoot first. When the trigger finger itches, it itches against everyone. Whoever allowed Ghanem to be killed without investigating or punishing anyone, allowed Fitoussi’s blood to be spilled.

And so, on the one hand, Israeli society sanctifies the deaths of its soldiers with insane exaggeration by means of a cult of death, and on the other hand, it ignores the reasons for killing and the deaths of the others. One could respect the obsessive grief over Fitoussi, if Israel also treated Ghanem’s death this way. One could respect a society that sanctifies its soldiers and shows solidarity with the grieving families – if it did not, at the same time, turn the Palestinian blood that is spilled into something completely worthless, the cheapest item on the shelf. This behavior reveals the society’s grief for its dead soldiers as hypocritical and nationalistic. No one expects Israel to mourn Fitoussi and Ghanem to the same extent, certainly not, but showing exaggerated grief over Fitoussi in the face of disheartening contempt for the life of Ghanem, who left behind six orphans – are what makes one wonder.

The fact that no one asks why Fitoussi was there in the first place also raises serious questions about how much Israel cares about the wellbeing of its soldiers. Fitoussi and his comrades from the Kfir infantry brigade, the brigade of the occupation, sit exposed on plastic chairs across from the separation barrier, which has been breached for years, to hunt Palestinians who are trying desperately to enter Israel to work. They build our homes, and in the best case, the soldiers are told that these men are “illegal residents,” another dehumanizing term; in the worst case, that they are terrorists. And so it’s permitted to shoot them, even with pride.

Fitoussi and Ghanem did not have to be killed. They were blood brothers, the blood of one redder than that other; they are victims of the same policy, about which no one speaks.

QOSHE - The Red Blood of an Israeli Soldier - Gideon Levy
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The Red Blood of an Israeli Soldier

12 17 1
22.08.2022

Do we really love our soldiers? Do we care for their safety? Last week Staff Sgt. Natan Fitoussi was shot to death by a fellow soldier. For two days running, the story topped all the TV news programs and newspaper headlines. The news anchors lowered their voices and frowned, their faces forming the expressions that are reserved only for such occasions; the chief of staff was summoned; the investigation was swift. Family, friends, funeral, everything was covered. There isn’t a single Israeli who hadn’t heard of Staff Sgt. Fitoussi. Only the army dog Zili, who was killed in Nablus, received a similar performance of mourning.

This national mourning, dictated by the engineers of consciousness, had everything except for what should have been there. That’s the way we like our grief: exclusively for our own dead, hypocritical, self-righteous and ignoring the real questions about why they died. The exaggerated expression of grief over Fitoussi is meant to conceal the truth.

Fitoussi was not killed in an accident. He was killed because of policy. Turning him into a folk hero was meant to........

© Haaretz


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