It’s time to break my silence about my service in the IDF. My views drastically changed between the day of my enlistment and my discharge as an officer.
Growing up in a liberal environment, I was a staunch supporter of the two-state solution and could not fathom how it had not been implemented. I did not understand why the settlements were necessary and their place in securing the State of Israel. I supported the Gaza disengagement, believing that it would lead to peace. I also dismissed any notion that the world (and the United Nations) was biased against Israel or that the Palestinian Authority was an active supporter of terrorism.
And then I joined the IDF. I had the opportunity to serve at all levels of the military, from being in the field during arrests to participating in discussions where recommendations to the security cabinet were formed. The longer I was in the military and the more I was exposed to those who wish to see the end of the Jewish State, the more I could not avoid what was staring at me in the face. It was obvious that despite security coordination with the IDF, the Palestinian Authority was either incompetent in its ability to prevent terrorism, or directly complicit in its perpetration. With the added understanding of how exactly the Palestinian Authority operates the funding mechanism of terrorists and their families, rewarding those who murder civilians, the two-faced Palestinian Authority was exposed for what they are. On the one hand, claiming to be open to peace negotiations – and on the other hand, lending material support to terrorists. In addition, it was clear that the Palestinian Authority does not have the mandate to achieve peace with Israel. President Abbas, in the 14th year of his 4-year term, rules with an iron fist, quashing any civil dissent. He does not have the support of the Palestinian people. On the practical level, he does not even control all his territory, with Hamas controlling Gaza since 2007.
On a personal level, as a native English speaker, I engaged extensively with international “peace activists” and aid workers who have turned the conflict into a business. For the most part, there were two types: those with little knowledge of the conflict that came to enjoy the Tel Aviv nightlife and visit the Dead Sea on weekends while working in a “war zone” during the week, and those who came with preconceived notions about the conflict. I had the naïve hope that these humanitarian workers were in it to help people and solve conflict, but most of the time all they wanted to do was blame Israel. The security of simply was not relevant. The shortcomings of the Palestinian Authority did not matter. All that mattered was that everything Israel did was wrong. Israeli settlers were demonized and not seen as human beings, IDF soldiers were looked at as monsters. While aware and sensitive to Palestinian customs and Islam, they were completely ignorant of Judaism and Jewish culture. Many times, I would explain why the IDF had to take certain security measures, but my explanations fell on deaf ears. Even more upsetting, certain Israeli NGOs would work closely with these organizations and show them a very biased narrative, with the aim of putting pressure on Israel to immediately “end the Occupation,” with complete disregard for relevant political and security issues. On the ground, many times these international actors were anything but neutral. They were actively helping the Palestinians violate the Oslo Accords and violate Israeli sovereignty in Area C, whether by encouraging Palestinian security forces to act in areas off limits to them under the Oslo Accords, interfering with arrest operations, or blatantly providing materials for illegal building in Area C.
Though I only briefly described my experiences, I hope it gives you an idea of why I’m so pessimistic about peace with the Palestinians in the near future and why I am so skeptical and distrustful of the international community.