Israel’s Policy of Ongoing Torture

Image of Palestine flag.

Image by Ömer Yıldız.

Israeli policy toward Gaza and the other Palestinian Territories has been one of premeditated torture. The present Israeli government, through its support for the settlers’ movement, has brought the real motive behind this policy to light and it is not “self-defense.” The real motive is dispossession and ethnic cleansing until recently pushed incrementally so as to minimize international reaction and intervention. The result has been the creation of an apartheid state that isolates, harasses, and murders Palestinians.  In other words, a policy of ongoing torture.

This is a policy of long standing which, it must be emphasized, has gone on with the strong backing of the U.S. government. Washington is thus complicit in Israeli behavior which should be publicly recognized as immoral and dehumanizing. And, behavior that must bring a reaction from its victims.

Therefore, over the years Israeli policy has, inevitably, led to rebellion and resistance among the Palestinians—violence which Israelis interpret as confirmation of the Palestinian refusal to make peace. Yet it has always been a peace made impossible by Israel’s purposely unreasonable demands. In truth, these rebellions are the equivalent to the tortured person’s reactive spasms.

Now this latest convulsive outburst, well aimed, has caused an unusual amount of damage to Israel: hundreds dead and injured, property damage and an uptick in terms of Israeli fear and trembling.

Unfortunately, the power relations between the two groups assure an Israeli ability to prevail. And, if history is any guide, the self-absorbed nature of the Israeli/Zionist mind will allow them to deny the gruesome and oppressive nature of their policy, and go right on torturing the Palestinians. Unless, of course, the U.S. wakes up to its own complicity and withdraws support.

There is very little chance of this. The culture-warping propaganda of 75 years, deeply instilled into the American political mind by a lobbying effort of great success, has assured continued American complicity. Just listen to President Biden.

Finally, we have reached a point in this seemingly endless struggle where two things are self-evident:

1. One can no longer be a decent human being and a Zionist at the same time. There are, of course, decent Jews fighting for a democratic state where Israelis and Palestinians can live as equals. This goal is not and has never been, a Zionist one. Such decent Jews should seek another appellation.

2. The Zionists have betrayed the memory and lessons of the Holocaust and historical antisemitism. For 75 years they have inched their way into the persona of their enemies. It is the tragedy of Judaism in our time.

Lawrence Davidson is a retired professor of history at West Chester University in West Chester, PA.