Aug. 30, 2016
“Aren’t you afraid of the soldiers?” the reporter asked the old Arab man.
A resident of Jenin, approximately 60 or 70 years old was sitting on a pile of rubble. He was calmly sitting there, not doing much of anything. He was surprised by the reporter’s question. I watched the exchange on Israeli t.v., it was an interview conducted in Arabic, and there were Hebrew subtitles at the bottom of the screen so viewers like me could understand what the residents of Jenin had to say.
This scene is seared in to my brain, an exchange I will never forget. It was during Operation Defensive Shield (2002). Terrorists had committed so many atrocious attacks on Israelis (suicide bombings in restaurants, a hotel, attacking people in their homes etc.) it had become necessary to take the battle to the terrorists. They knew the IDF was coming and had time to booby-trap much of Jenin, making it a horrific place for a battle. The IDF ended up having to bulldoze a section of buildings which gave impetus to the media to begin screaming that the army had committed war crimes (false allegations they later had to apologize for).
“Me? Afraid? Of who?” asked the old man.
“The soldiers” said the reporter.
The scorn on the old man’s face fascinated me. “Of course I’m not afraid of the soldiers!” he answered. “I’m not a terrorist! I don’t have a bomb. Or a gun. Or a knife!”