Monday, August 16, 2010


From this morning's Haaretz:

"In the beginning, instead of starting the sentence with 'Wakef' (stop), we said 'Sabah al-heir' (good morning ). This changed their reaction almost immediately," Cohen said.

'Instead of saying 'gib al awiya,' ordering them to show ID, we said 'min fadlakum' (please ), with an emphasis on the request,' he said. 'But it wasn't just the words. We decided that we would look everyone in the eye and that we would not aim our gun at anyone. This is out of the assumption that the overwhelming majority of people are interested in quiet and going to work."

Full article here.

The point is not that the IDF is just being nicer to Palestinians, it's that by being more polite it removes an element of the occupation which unnecessarily antagonizes them. This is one positive, albeit small, step towards drawing in the moderate center of Palestinians. If Palestinians feel less dis-empowered by soldiers barking at them at checkpoints, it may reduce the number who support violence against those troops and against Israelis. In war zones like the West Bank, rough language is sometimes necessary in a dangerous situation. However, in this case, a small change can make a big difference.

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