Border Police on YouTube: It’s just a case of another rotten apple, they will say

Posted: June 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, racism | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The front story of Haaretz magazine this weekend reveals another ugly face of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank: short films showing the emotional, physical and verbal abuse of Palestinians, taken by Border Police soldiers and posted to YouTube. The Palestinians in these films are forced to sing songs praising the Border Police, to slap themselves and to face jokes and insults. Here is one of the films. The full Haaretz article, with links to other films, can be found here.

The Border Police is a military unit under the command of the police. The people serving in it are not ordinary policeman, but rather young soldiers, on their three years mandatory service. They are stationed mostly (but not only) in the West Bank, which means they get to stay many months, even years, in the same area (unlike regular army units, which only get sent to Palestinian cities or areas for limited periods of time – between several weeks to months). This leads to boredom and frustration among the soldiers. Combined with the arrogance of 19 years old kids who get to run the life of hundreds of people in roadblocks and checkpoints, and the racist tendencies in Israeli society, it brings to the results shown above. This sort of behavior, however, is not limited to the Border Police, or to the films on YouTube. I heard such stories during my own army service, in the 90′s, and I hear them from people to this day.

I am by no means trying to explain or justify the behavior of the Border Police’s soldiers. My point is different, and it deals with the nature of the occupation.

There is no mass murder being committed in the West Bank, and there never was (there were incidents of killing innocent people, but never an order to just kill). Israel’s defenders are right in saying that Israelis are not Nazis. In fact, these kinds of accusations are, to my opinion, not only false, but also counter productive, since when proven wrong, people may deduct that all accusations against Israel are wrong. And nothing can be further away from the truth.

The problem with the occupation is, first and utmost, the daily pressure on the ordinary Palestinians’ life. In this sense, it is one of the worse regimes on earth right now. It’s the fact that Palestinians can’t travel, can’t build houses, go to work and sometimes even plant trees – without the army’s authorization. It’s the fact that their privacy can be invaded, that soldiers can come to search their houses or their cars at any given time, without any warrant or other legal process. It’s the fact that anyone can be arrested, and is not entitled to civilian legal protection. It’s the long lines on the roadblocks, it’s the confiscating of the land, and it’s this big and small daily humiliation, whenever you meet a soldier who is bored or just plain cruel – something that happens now and then to each and every Palestinian. To sum it up, it’s the fact that the Palestinians live what Hannah Arendt described, in a different context, as an existence which is exposed of any protection – that of the sovereign, and that of the law. Palestinians are totally at the mercy of the good will of the Israeli government, army, and finally, the Border Patrol soldier standing at the checkpoint with a gun and a cell phone camera.


One Comment on “Border Police on YouTube: It’s just a case of another rotten apple, they will say”

  1. 1 Aviv said at 11:16 pm on June 24th, 2009:

    “The problem with the occupation is, first and utmost, the daily pressure on the ordinary Palestinians’ life. In this sense, it is one of the worse regimes on earth right now”

    Really? I invite you to read about human rights in North Korea, say here, and revisit your comment on counterproductive falsehoods.

    No doubt the Palestinians endure hardships under the occupation, but it’s important to take matters into proportion, both in judging the extent of those hardships and determining their causes.