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romancing the stones
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‘The real struggle in Israeli society today,’ says Yitzhak Laor, ‘is not between doves and hawks, but between the majority who take for granted the IDF’s (army) image as defenders of our nation or the minority who no longer buy it.’
Breaking the Silence was an exhibition of photographs in Tel Aviv taken mostly by unnamed conscripts. Late in June it was raided by the military police who removed some video’s, newspaper clippings and personal statements.

‘Our job was to stop the Palestinians at the checkpoint and tell them they can't pass this way any more. Maybe a month ago they could, but now they can't. On the other hand there were all these old ladies who had to pass to get to their homes, so we'd point in the direction of the opening through which they could go without us noticing. It was an absurd situation. Our officers also knew about this opening. They told us about it. Nobody really cared about it. It made us wonder what we were doing at the checkpoint. Why was it forbidden to pass? It was really a form of collective punishment. You're not allowed to pass because you're not allowed to pass. If you want to commit a terrorist attack, turn right there and then left.’

‘0nce a little kid, a boy of about six, passed by me at my post. He said to me: "Soldier, listen, don't get annoyed, don't try and stop me, I'm going out to kill some Arabs." I look at the kid and don't quite understand exactly what I'm supposed to do. So he says: "First, I'm going to buy a popsicle at Gotnik's" - that's their grocery store - "then I'm going to kill some Arabs." I had nothing to say to him. Nothing. I went completely blank. And that's not such a simple thing, that a city, that such an experience can silence someone who was an educator, a counsellor, who believed in education, who believed in talking to people, even if their opinions were different. But I had nothing to say to a kid like that. There's nothing to say to him.'




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