Yachad’s deputy director, Maya Ilany, in the Jewish News, August 08, 2019
How far should you go to get a good shot? This week it was revealed that the Israeli security forces planted a gun in the home of an innocent Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem so they could later play out a “search” for that same gun in front of the cameras. The only democracy in the Middle East sent its security forces into the home of Samer Sleiman, an innocent man, terrorising him and his family in the middle of the night, not for the sake of security or because there was any indication that this man poses any danger – but for ratings.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz discovered that this TV stunt was performed for a new docudrama about the work of Israel’s security forces called Jerusalem District that is aired on Israel’s public broadcaster, Kan. The broadcaster has now removed all episodes of the show from its website and announced that is has terminated its contract with the production company that produced the show. But the shocking revelations about the show’s methods cannot be easily forgotten and should not be casually dismissed as exceptional.
This story should shake every friend of Israel out of indifference to the situation in East Jerusalem and the occupied territories. Those who take pride in Israel’s commitment to justice and human rights must ask themselves how this situation could have even occurred. It is too easy to look away from the people who are trapped in this conflict, whether they live under military occupation in East Jerusalem or if they spend sleepless nights at their bomb shelters in the Gaza border region. But the conflict is not a TV show, and it will not have a happy ending for Palestinians or Israelis if we keep following the same old script.
Just today a young Israeli soldier, Dvir Sorek from the settlement of Ofra, was stabbed to death by a terrorist in Gush Etzion in the West Bank. Dvir’s death is a painful reminder that every day that passes without resolving this conflict is a day that is spent in fear by Israelis and Palestinians who know that the next victim could be them, or their loved ones. And while the Israeli security forces are leaving no stone unturned searching for the terrorist who took Dvir’s life, the only way to ensure there are no more victims of this conflict is for leaders to explore every opportunity to make peace.
Friends of Israel used to be loud and clear in calling for the Israeli government to make ’peace now’. Today, we quietly mumble to ourselves that the status quo is the best we can hope for, and that it would be nice if there was peace one day in the far future. In reality, this conflict does not have a status quo, and if we will not commit ourselves to peace, it will not just arrive by itself one day.
Yachad believes that unlike Kan’s discredited docudrama, there is no scripted ending for Israelis and Palestinians. The future of the region depends on the actions we take today. The questions for British Jews who want to see the Jewish homeland safe and secure, with a flourishing democracy is: are we going to fight for peace and put human life before land, or are we going to hand creative control to extreme groups instead? The lesson we must learn from the generation that built the state of Israel is that real Zionism means taking our fate into our own hands and making bold moves to secure our future.
This piece was originally published in The Jewish News