Ok picture this. A group of masked men, armed with semiautomatic machine guns enter a bank. They lock the employees in a room, cover the surveilance cameras with trash bags, and steal millionsof dollars in cash. On the way in and out they spray bullets injuring 47 people on the street. 5 are critically injured meaning maybe they will never walk again, it may be that they will never wake up. The gangsters leave a manifesto at the scene of the crime, justifying the heist because of unproven claims that this bank holds accounts controlled by their enemies. What do you suppose would be the reaction to such a claim?
But it gets better. What if these bank robbers, eligible in the United States for the federal death penalty should one of the injured die from their wounds, went on to explain that they were going to give the money to charity. Who are these modern day Robin Hoods? Is this the SLA demanding that William Randolph Hearst feed the poor as ransom for his daughter? Pretty boy Floyd turning his loot over to starving dust bowl farmers during the great depression?
No, these are the heroes of the Israeli army who went into Ramallah on the morning of feb. 25 and, employing the expertise of bank computer experts whom they had kidnapped the night before, stole 37 million NIS (approx. 8 mil USD).
Shaul Mofaz, the Israeli defense minister, urges us not to worry. The money, `liberated’ from 400 emptied individual, institutional and family accounts would be used for `humanitarian goals of Palestinian society’ including `improving the infrastructure at checkpoints’. Not quite Robin Hood then but more like the Sheriff of Nottingham who charges the condemned man for the rope used to hang him. After years of financial drain and fiscal inconvenience perhaps the Israelis have finally found a way to make the occupation pay.
On the same day as the bank robbery, other elements of the ‘most moral army in the world’ added 2 corpses and 5 wounded to the 40 000 Palestinian bodies that have become home to Israeli bullets and shrapnel. This was just down the road from the bank robbery, in the town of Biddu, at a demonstration of unarmed farmers against the daylight robbery of their land by the Israel’s wall. Mofaz and his agents were quick to remind journalists that soldiers had only fired in the air during the demonstration. Mendacity on top of gangsterism. Perhaps the bank accounts too are ‘disputed’ in the Israeli gaze.
So forget the human rights charges at the Hague, perhaps the outlaw state which organizes common criminal strikes under the pretext of moral authority should be taken to a common criminal court where noble intentions are as frowned upon a defense for murder and mayhem as national liberation.
Juliana Fredman and James Davis are filmmakers working in the Occupied Territories.