05/07/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Netanyahu's Right Is My Wrong

One of the most common slogans used by Israeli left-wingers is "the occupation corrupts." Meaning, it corrupts Israeli society -- and even more importantly, it corrupts Israeli democracy.

But the damage that Benjamin Netanyahu's government has done in its first year is so overwhelming, one can only wonder what will happen if he's lucky enough to stay in power for a full four-year term.

When Netanyahu was elected, everyone knew that peace would have to wait a few more years. The right-wing government he formed sent out the message loud and clear: the Palestinian people are of no importance whatsoever. The Iranian nuclear program is what's on our agenda.
But no one could foresee that a message was also being sent out on a daily basis to those inside his own country who try to voice a different opinion to that of the government.

In Israel, if you're a Haredi demonstrating on the streets against opening a parking lot on the Sabbath -- you're OK. Police will watch from afar.

If you're a right-winger demonstrating on the streets against a settlement freeze -- you're OK. Police will watch from afar.

But think twice before you go to Sheikh Jarrah, you lefty. You traitor. Better watch your back before you decide to take to the streets against evicting Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem.

And if you're a foreigner, careful. We'll have you deported if you're not on our side.

Oh, and you lefties, you high falutin' intellectuals better not create any "art" that doesn't conform to the official propaganda of the ruling body.

I've subtitled the following video clip, an excellent item shown about a month ago on Channel 10. It shows how Israeli moviemakers are having it tough these days, if they're not in line with the government's stance.

This a very good piece, and it probably would not have been shown on the more popular Channel 2. They wouldn't have the guts to endanger their ratings. Channel 10 news is known to take a few more chances, to ask questions that aren't always asked. And although the reporter Talya Peled Keynan tries to play the devil's advocate, she's brave enough to come out against what she sees as an attack on freedom of speech.

One of the most difficult parts to watch in this clip is an excerpt from a movie called Checkpoints, where an Israeli soldier questions a Palestinian family on their way to Nablus. The family is sick, and needs to see a doctor. The soldier, probably 19 years old, doesn't believe them. The occupation has turned this young man into a doctor at a checkpoint, analyzing Palestinian patients.

I sympathize with both parties. With the family going through a humiliating interrogation. And I can also understand the young lad. With the weight of the world on his shoulders, there probably isn't a day that goes by where he doesn't ask himself: "Did I just let a suicide bomber through?" The pressure is unbelievable.

He doesn't believe anything -- or anyone -- anymore. The occupation has corrupted him.