Opinion The Good Israeli Drone Operator
The denial, the self-victimization, the sentimentality, the ignorance and the smugness. This young woman is so all-Israeli, it makes you want to cry | Opinion
Gideon Levy Dec 08, 2016 5:45 PM
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Her name is Lee and she served in the Israel Defense Force’s unmanned aerial vehicle unit. Now she studies administration in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is doing one semester in Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic.
Last week she heard an Israeli was giving a lecture on campus and came to hear it, with another Israeli student who studies psychology. Lee was shocked to the core by the lecture.
Lee lives in the center of the country and she is middle Israel. So all-Israeli, it makes you want to cry – all the blindness, the denial, the repression, the self-victimization, the sentimentality, the ignorance and smugness in one young woman.
She was upset when she rose to speak, complained that it was hard for her to express herself in English and that she had not been prepared to speak. She explained to the Czech listeners that the situation isn’t as simple as the lecturer from Israel had described. The situation is much more complicated, she said, it’s not black and white. The lecturer was one-sided.
The lecturer offered an example his audience would find familiar, of the Soviet tanks invading their country in 1968. He asked, if then things were “complicated” as well, or whether it was clear to any conscionable person in the world, that the Soviets were the invaders and the Czechs their victims. Thus, simply, one-sidedly, black and white and unequivocal. The Soviets also said they came to protect.
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Lee invited the listeners to come to Israel and see that what the lecturer said was wrong. She meant for them to see the Palestinian terror and Israeli drip irrigation, the Israelis’ overwhelming desire for peace and the Palestinians’ congenital murderousness.
Yana rose and said she had visited Israel more than once, including the occupied territories, and had gotten a different impression. She had been to places Lee had never visited. Perhaps she had seen them on her computer screen, which sometimes shows black dots, who are people like her. Sometimes they are fleeing for their life from her deadly joy-stick. Lee was protecting the state, after all. By the way, a moral debate on whether drones should be used for killing is being conducted all over the world, just not in Israel.
Lee said she was for peace. She is certain she’s not right wing. On the contrary. She said she knew the occupation was bad, she was even against it, but there’s no choice. Lee knows something we don’t – what efforts the air force puts into not harming the innocents. Lee is convinced that the IDF is the most moral army in the world.
The lecturer remarked that the IDF and Israeli Air Force’s efforts may be touching, but 180 infants and toddlers and 344 children that the IDF had killed in the 2014 Israel-Gaza war alone – maybe during Lee’s military service – are much more convincing than all the military’s moving efforts. Lee was close to tears.
Lee is full of good intentions. She is convinced that this is her country, milk and honey, and her army, an army with values. That’s what they told her. She is also convinced that if Israel could help it – there’d be peace already. It is doubtful whether she has ever spoken to a Palestinian. Doubtful if she saw his image as more than a dot on the computer screen.
After the lecture Lee came up to the lecturer and wanted to talk to him some more. Her dismay was evident and so were her good intentions. It was impossible to be angry with Lee, the brainwashed drone operator. Her self-satisfaction was totally authentic, without an iota of phoniness. And of course, without any moral doubts.
That’s why she makes for such a shocking figure. She is a good young woman, who has done bad things in her military service, without being aware of it. She isn’t aware of it now, either. Israel had no choice but to kill all those babies. Hamas forced Israel to do it, Israel is the victim. Lee loves her country and her army. She cannot understand how it is at all possible to criticize them. Especially abroad.
Lee will grow up and be a good Israeli, like all Israelis.
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