When I was asked if I would review this book, I said, “It doesn’t sound like a book I want to read but it does sound like a book I should read”. This book is a compilation of testimonies by Israeli Soldiers from the occupied territories 2000-2010.
I’m still not sure of the motivation of the organization Breaking the Silence. This book details many incidents that portray the Israeli army, police and settlers in a decidedly negative manner. The Palestinians are portrayed as victims. The bias of the book is definitively against the Israeli government. The government is portrayed as fractured and confused. The army gets conflicting directions form different governmental bodies.
The testimonies are moving and often sad. The young people of Israel found themselves in situations they felt they were ill equipped to handle. Many of the testimonies reflected the immaturity of the soldiers and their reflections from the perspective of later years where they second guess their prior behavior.
I can’t recall one incident in the book where Palestinians were seen as the cause of the soldiers’ behavior. In my opinion the book ignored why the issues of security were mandated in the first place.
From this book’s point of view a pattern of behavior by the Israeli army, settlers and government is creating a culture of hatred in the Palestinians. The term ghetto was used several times in the book as was reference to Nazi behavior. Harsh is aptly used in the title of the book.
I suspect that many of the stories in the book could be ascribed to American troops in their battles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Conflicting rationales for their missions has to been depredating to the morale and general well being of the troops regardless of nationality.
Considering the overwhelming support for Israel in the United States, this book provides a thoughtful counterpoint. However is does seem decidedly skewed in viewpoint. Read it but read it with care.
Web sites: http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/