By Idan Landau

These are dark days, the darkest that we have seen since the Lebanon War. Twenty years have passed since that cursed war and we learned nothing and already forgot everything. We did not learn that blood and slaughter breed more blood and more slaughter. We did not learn that there is no force in the world that can break the spirit of destitute refugees – not a massacre, nor a semi-massacre, not tanks and not snipers. And we already forgot – forgot how callous and dark our leaders can be. We forgot how little value they attach to human life, how easily they send us to kill and be killed for the cause of “Our Sacred Land” and “National Honor”. Now, as then, twenty years ago, we begin to relearn, begin to remember, but it is so much more painful: a thick black and depressing line connects Zidon of 1982 to Jenin of 2002 and erases all that occurred between them.

These are days shrouded in lies and deceit. An entire nation is involved in self-deception, entangled in its own lies, and the world watches in wonderment. The deception industry first moved into high gear at Camp David. A tight junta of politicians from the left and the right, generals and commentators, lied to us unabashedly and incessantly. They lied when they told us that Barak went to Camp David in good faith, they lied when they continued to briskly set up settlements while speaking in vain praise of peace, they lied in their announcement that they only want to destroy the infrastructure of terror when all their actions were intended to destroy completely the fabric of Palestinian life, education, health and welfare institutions. And above these lies is the biggest lie of all – the name “Defensive Shield”. We know this language. Neither “defense” nor “shield”; the “Peace of Gallillee” war – neither “peace” nor “Gallillee”; “targeted preventive procedures” – not “preventive” and certainly not “targeted”; “painful concessions” – neither ”painful” nor “concessions”. A heap of foul lies!

Nor shall we believe the television correspondents, those obsequious panderers of stern-faced generals, who aim their cameras only at soldiers zealous with the spirit of battle, who never encountered a Palestinian, never a live Palestinian trembling with fear in his home which is devoid of food, never a dead one rotting among the ruins of his house. Tens of thousands of Palestinians are out there, crazed with despair and fear, and each and every one of them – it must be the Devil’s work – is invisible to our correspondents’ eyes.

Bibi was right: The correspondents are scared – they are S-C-A-R-E-D. They are scared to reveal the truth, scared that we might know the truth, know the extent of the horror that is taking place in our name, here, not in Sabra and Shatila, but here! What would we do with such awful knowledge – how would we live and sleep and how would we know a minute of tranquility when we think of the hundreds of Palestinian civilians who were killed just like that, with a casual release of the trigger, in the collapse of the walls of their houses from a tank shell, in the over-extended delays at the road posts where the soldiers operated according to instructions – always according to instructions. They have the terror of suicides; we have the terror of instructions.

These are forbidden words, forbidden thoughts, “it is inconceivable”, in the staged words of television. So the time has come for the truth to be conceived, to be raised and pronounced in a loud voice. There is a wonderful button in the remote control – it is called MUTE. We should start to use it mercilessly. You see Ron Ben Ishai on the screen? – MUTE. You see Ehud Yaari? – MUTE. Roni Daniel? – MUTE. This too is a form of Refusal. The MUTE Refusal. Instead, we should listen to the foreign networks, search the internet, contact friends, use the telephone – and let the Deception-Media talk to itself, report to itself, fabricate its own virtual reality – without us.

These are dangerous days. Transfer-mongers are seated in the government. The IDF is led by a group of Major Generals who cannot distinguish between terrorist attacks and existential threats, between civilians and terrorists. The entire country is caught up in a dismal wave of racism and fascism. What more are they preparing for us, the deadly trio Sharon, Fuad and Mofaz? An invasion into Gaza? Is that what is being devised in the innermost chambers? A war of annihilation between the IDF and the million Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip?

Jenin was child’s play compared to what might happen in the crowded camps of Jebbaliya and Shati. And how would it start? Will Sharon soberly announce that the attacks on Netzarim and Kfar Darom, the “rock of our existence”, cannot be tolerated any longer? Fuad will sigh and shrug his shoulders, Peres will mumble something about a political horizon, Meretz will stammer as always, the government legal advisor will pave the way for a Supreme Court approval, and we will charge ahead.

These are dangerous days because the Israeli authorities have lost all restraint and it is impossible to know when and where the deterioration will stop. When the Supreme Court refrains from putting a halt to war crimes in the territories, when the legal advisor attacks the Organization for Human Rights – these are ominous signs. Maybe the beginning of the end of Israeli democracy. I don’t want to propagate false prophecies, don’t want to spread fear, but it is important that all of you in this big crowd who came here today understand this. The Israeli establishment has shrugged off its legal and moral obligation to protect human dignity and if we don’t protect it, no one else will.

So maybe, maybe these are also days of a new beginning, of early signs of awakening. I say this cautiously, with the experience of past disappointments, and yet one cannot help sensing the strength of the protest rising from the left in the streets. My fellow conscientious objectors are growing in number – currently 45 are in prison, may they multiply. And there are demonstrations and petitions and food convoys. And there is a member of Knesset named Roman Bronfman, and even Yaffa Yarkoni is on our side. So maybe there is still hope. Let’s just continue doing all this, even more forcefully, until the machine of death and destruction is stopped. Let us refuse to serve in the territories, in greater numbers, let us fill prison 4 and prison 6, they will have to open prisons 8, 10 and 12 for us. Maybe they will even send us to Kziot for administrative detention. Why not? As far as they are concerned, half the country here deserves to live in closures or prisons - Palestinians, leftists, Bedouins, migrant workers, and anyone who insults the IDF. And let us continue to deluge the road posts with trucks of food and medicines, a tidal wave of solidarity, let us spread the truth and fight the deceit, and let us all be objectors to this apparatus of evil and stupidity, let us say NO and again NO until the day comes for us to say yes.

Idan Landau