Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anat Kam Defends the Settlers

Anat Kam, the office clerk who leaked internal IDF directives regarding the targeting of Palestinian terrorists is due for sentencing, having been convicted in February. The young woman made a choice, a bad choice, an arrogant choice, without thinking it through. I can relate. She's no radical, however, and that's something.
My leftist views moderated in the army of all places, because I realized that nothing is the way it seems. It's easy to say that the occupation is corrupting and terrible, yet on the inside reality is very complex," she says. "The demonization of the settlers, which to a great extent I adopted like any good leftist, was watered down over there. There were violent hilltop youth, yet in the friction between Jews and Palestinians, I saw how much the moderate camp among the settlers despises it.

If before that I thought we should return to the 1967 borders and evacuate everything, there I realized that Ariel is not the hilltop youth…nonetheless, it was still clear to me like it is today that the occupation is not a proper thing," she says.
No, the occupation is not a proper thing. I don't think anyone would dispute this. Those of us who support Jewish communities in the territories do not do so out of a desire to punish the Arabs - and for those who do, I strongly urge therapy. The occupation is not a natural state of affairs; it isn't a normal or healthy way for people to live, but it may be the best of worse alternatives, at least for now. This is something that those who blindly rail against the occupation rarely consider. It can and should be made more humane, where possible, until a more permanent resolution to the conflict is found.

Many are hoping for a punishing verdict of many years in prison for Kam. I really don't see what point that would serve. She'll never work in a capacity with access to classified information again, either in the public or private sector. What will anyone gain by robbing her of ten years of life, at public expense? One would hope this ordeal has been a sobering experience, as she herself admits, and the consequences of her actions will stay with her, always. Which is not to say that six months to a year is not appropriate for leaking state secrets, but we need to draw a line between deterrence and vengeance. Prison is a place better reserved for those who are a permanent danger to themselves and others - murderers, rapists, child molesters; it should be an expression of social compassion for the irreparably broken, not an outlet for imposing social retribution.

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