Hearts and Minds the academy award winning documentary for 1975 will ever stick in my mind not only for the chilling scene described below but for the audience’s response.
In the memorable scene scene we shows the funeral of an Vietcong soldier and his grieving family the mother weeping is restrained from climbing into the grave after the coffin] The funeral scene is juxtaposed with an interview with General William Westmoreland — commander of American military operations in the Vietnam War at its peak from 1964 to 1968 and United States Army Chief of Staff from 1968 to 1972 — telling the stunned director that “The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient.”
At this moment in the New Yorker Theatre on Toronto’s Yonge street the whole audience rose and screamed at the screen—as if General Westmoreland was there in person. It was simple human outrage at the racist crap we had just heard—surely Vietnamese suffering doesn’t equal American pain
And in Israel you really can’t compare Jewish suffering with Palestinian.
The back story—Israel’s refusal to return the bodies of Palestinian fighters to their loved ones. Radio host Razi Barkai challenged Internal security Minister Gilad Erdan over this gross insensitivity saying “Imagine Israeli families … that are waiting desperately to receive the bodies of their loved ones.”
What comparing Jewish suffering (good) to Palestinian—no comparison.
Carolina Landsmann in Haaretz wrote:
Barkai’s words were interrupted by Erdan’s cries of shock. Barkai tried to explain – “in terms of the families’ feelings” – but it was evident that Erdan couldn’t believe his ears – in other words, not just that this was Barkai’s opinion, but that such an opinion is even possible. There is no question: Erdan’s insides are incapable of coping with a comparison between the feelings of bereaved Jewish mothers and those of bereaved Arab mothers. In that sense bibi Netanyahu’s assertion – that we are surrounded by “wild animals” – is an accurate formulation of the Israeli zeitgeist, the essence of the stirrings of the Jewish soul in its land.
Today it seems Israelis reject in advance the possibility that the Palestinians even have a perspective. Beneath the surface something very profound has changed in Israeli society. Israeli common sense has changed beyond recognition – most Israelis believe that the feelings of the enemy are different in nature from theirs; that the pain is not the same pain; that there is no minimal common denominator between Jews and Arabs, for example a human common denominator that could be the basis for the imagination of a better future. Only someone who acknowledges the humanity of his enemy can fight him when necessary, and make peace with him when possible. But the ugliness of Israel on the battlefield in Netanyahu’s era – disproportionate harm to civilians, firing at hospitals and schools, commerce in bodies – is the ugliness of Netanyahu at the negotiating table.
Dehumanization knows no bounds