“Trust, concern and respect” are the key words in Haverford College’s honor code.
This weekend at least some Haverford students who care about Israel weren’t feeling as if any of those terms applied to them.
There was an event at Haverford College on Sunday, Nov. 24, called “The Soldier and the Refusenik.” The two speakers who presented are traveling throughout the U.S. on a fundraising tour for their organization, Anarchists Against the Wall. That organization attacks not only the “Occupation,” but Israel’s very existence.
And perhaps worst of all, the Haverford Center for Peace and Global Citizenship was not only a co-sponsor of the event, it also provided technical and financial assistance.
During Sunday’s program, students were told by Israel-critical Israelis such “facts” as:
– Israel uses the “West Bank” and Gaza as its own private lab where it experiments on Palestinian Arabs and then sells the weapons it perfects to the “worst dictators in the world, including the United States”;
– Israeli soldiers kidnap young Arab children from their homes in the middle of the night. The Israelis then hold those children in military detention centers for one to three days, during which time the children aren’t given any water or allowed to see their parents or a lawyer. The Israelis then coerce the children into lying and saying that certain Arab leaders told the children to throw stones at Israeli soldiers. The Israeli soldiers then release the children and arrest the Arab leaders;
– Israeli soldiers pretend to be Arabs and join the “peaceful, non-violent Palestinian Arab demonstrations.” The soldiers pretending to be Arabs then throw stones at the Israelis, which unleashes the “hundreds of IDF soldiers” with guns and tear gas canisters who were waiting for the legitimacy provided by the undercover IDF to attack the non-violent Arab protesters;
– Under Israel’s military law, any threat to Israeli rule is terrorism. In fact, any Arab who does not “wholeheartedly” accept the occupation is officially deemed a terrorist.
Many of those underhanded strategies of entrapment and undercover work are essential, the speakers explain, because “the IDF can’t have these Ghandi types undermining our Occupation.” That’s right. The speakers described the Arab Palestinian leadership who are getting arrested as “Ghandi types.”
FIRST, THE FORMER SOLDIER
The presentation began with the former soldier, Eran Efrati. Efrati has a buoyant, engaging personality. He wove a very personal tale of his early childhood in a typical Israeli Zionist home, one in which his Auschwitz-survivor grandmother also lived. The Nazis’ arrest of his grandmother’s father in the middle of the night was an episode seared into her brain, and also Eran’s, especially because it seemed so arbitrary.
The word “arbitrary” was a leitmotif of Efrati’s talk. He wove it into his own experiences in the IDF and those of other soldiers who, according to Efrati’s tale, arbitrarily arrest and terrorize Palestinian Arabs.
As he tells it, there was a pivotal moment in Efrati’s military career which scarred him. But rather than the story revealing a fundamental malevolence in the Israeli military, it sounded more like a description of a moment in which Efrati could have, but failed to, do the right thing. As a direct result of his own inaction, an apparently innocent Arab was arrested and held for days.
The short version of that story is Efrati, stationed in Hebron, tried to make friends with the local Palestinian Arab children by bringing them candies and the ubiquitous peanut butter snack, Bamba. One child finally took a packet of Bamba from Efrati, and offered Efrati a piece. That sent Efrati into paroxysms of joy – he was “fulfilling his destiny.” But that very same night Efrati was tapped for night mapping exercise.
A Mapping exercise is when the IDF go into Arab homes in the middle of the night, wake everyone up, and as the male head of household takes them through the house, an IDF troop makes detailed drawings of the inside of the house. The reason given for the mapping exercise is so that in case of a terrorist attack, the IDF knows all the means of ingress and egress from all the homes.
Of course on the night of Efrati’s rise to grace the last home he is told to go into is the one in which the young boy who shared the Bamba with him lives. Somehow Efrati ends up in the bedroom of the boy who is standing there, stark naked. Efrati points his gun at the boy’s head and the boy wets himself. At that moment the boy’s father comes in the room and starts screaming and hitting the boy, yelling “don’t take him, he’ll be punished!” Just then, Efrati’s fellow soldiers enter the room and, thinking Efrati was in danger, they arrest the father.