It’s all on Azaria’s shoulders

It’s all on Azaria’s shoulders, Israel Hayom, Dror Eydar, January 4, 2017

(Please see also, The Azaria trial and the rift over orders to shoot. — DM)

In July 1988, a terrorist attacked Yossi Hadassi, a soldier who had enlisted just three months earlier. Hadassi grappled with the terrorist and managed to kill him. He was awarded a citation of merit from the commander of the Engineering Corps.

Then the media hunt began, backed by the self-righteous Left, which accused the soldier of murder. On May 30, 1989, Yossi Hadassi committed suicide.

That week, the poet Naomi Shemer published a message in Yedioth Ahronoth: “The soldier Yossi Hadassi killed his attacker, and a year later killed himself. It wasn’t only Yossi Hadassi who committed suicide; an entire nation is committing suicide. An entire country is defending itself as its investigators, police, and poets drive it mad and convince it that it is a predatory wolf, Goliath, a monster. The intifada is the prelude and the excuse for the destruction of Israel. We are all Yossi Hadassi.”

Hadassi’s fate touched me. Naomi Shemer’s courage touched me, too. She published her message after a decade in which her work had been viciously attacked because she was “right-wing.”

I was reminded of that piece when the Azaria affair broke. We’ve thrown all the problems in Israeli society, the disagreement rooted in debate between Left and Right and the 100-year-old conflict between us and our neighbors, on to the bowed back of the young soldier. The mechanism of national suicide camouflaged as morality, too.

No, I’m not arguing that Azaria acted rightly. I don’t know how I would have acted in his situation. But even if I don’t think he’s a hero, it’s clear that he’s no murderer, and that what I’ve written. He certainly should not have been put on trial; the matter should have ended with a disciplinary hearing in his unit. And he certainly should not have to carry the weight of Israel’s foreign relations and the IDF’s ethical code and the discussions that have used him as a beast of burden. Sgt. Elor Azaria killed a terrorist. The craziness around his case has to do with the accursed insanity and politicization of the public discourse.

Like Hadassi, Azaria comes from a humble family on which the uncompromising interest and self-righteousness of some of us came crashing down out of the clear blue sky and threatened to crush. No mercy was shown to Hadassi, may he rest in peace, or to Azaria, may he live a long life. But unlike the 1980s, this time there is social media, which was able to help and support him. That’s some comfort. Back then, I couldn’t help Yossi Hadassi, but today I can express my own opinion wholeheartedly: We are all Elor Azaria.

Explore posts in the same categories: Israel, Israeli military, Israeli military justice, Palestinian terrorists, Sgt. Elor Azaria

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