There are words. Words can chill. Like the morning I went out into the street and found two intoxicated teenagers daubing obscene graffiti on the hood of my car. "I'm gonna kill you," I yelled at them. "I'm gonna hang you both from that light pole." The drunk youngsters capped their spray-paint cans and meandered away mumbling incomprehensible things, maybe because they were scared by my words, or maybe because they were already done drawing their giant penis. I was myself scared by the enormity of what I had said. I knew I'm incapable of hanging anyone from anywhere --I weigh 55 kg--, but the violence ingrained in the society --the concept that minor offenders deserve Draconian punishments, including capital-- had surfaced in an individual who prides himself in being nonviolent.
Fast forward, and eastward, to today's Jerusalem. If I were a Jewish activist fighting for the Arab residents' increasingly eroded rights I wouldn't be comfortable at all hearing them shout, as they occasionally do at their demonstrations, "Jews are our dogs." I don't believe for a moment those Arabs would turn on their Jewish supporters because they're Jewish. In fact, it's quite probable that the very same Arabs whose aunt shouted those words were sipping tea with honey and mint leaves with their Jewish supporters moments before the protest. It's the society's ancestral prejudices that speak through that middle-aged lady, and it would be good for the Jerusalem Arabs to gain consciousness of what needs to be fixed in said society. Although I agree it shouldn't be necessarily their top priority, it's disturbing to see next to no internal Arab reaction against the supremacist discourse seeping into legitimate protest. Or, from another perspective, it's startling to see how unaware Arabs are of the political correctness that prevent Westerners from overtly expressing the horrible sentiments they also subscribe to. (I always recall how exultant many Argentinians were that the Twin Towers had been blown up and the Yanks had been taught a lesson. But they didn't celebrate in the street, God forbid.) Because you know, words can scare.
Then there are actions. Actions can scare more than words. In fact, actions can kill, which words can't, not at least on an individual basis. And in the I/P conflict, it's the Israelis who can carry out actions, not Palestinians. Despite the ever more occasional terrorist attack, it's the Israelis who harass and degrade Palestinians on an everyday basis. Stopping someone for 5 hours at a checkpoint when you could have stopped him for 1 hour, while not as spectacular as comparing him to a canine, is much more hurtful.
I don't know if Israeli Jews have called Arabs dogs. Snakes, monkeys, donkeys, cockroaches -- yes. But not dogs that I know. However, I do know of interactions between Arabs, Jews and dogs that take place not in the realm of words, but in that of actions. Like the following one:
This is a video of an Israeli Defense Forces dog attacking an elderly Palestinian lady. Notice how, as the canine savagely bites the woman’s hand, the soldiers try to pull it away, most probably causing her even more pain, instead of hitting the animal in the head with their rifle butts or directly shooting it to prevent further harm to the human being attacked.
One life is more important than the other here, and it's clearly not the woman's. In a very literal sense, Palestinians are worth less than dogs to Israeli soldiers.
El País (Der Stürmer)
14 years ago