During a radio program yesterday, I was asked “what next”?
In the course of my answer, I said something about how I don’t know that the Israeli government has thought that through; that they are so drunk with self-conviction, absolute power and military might, racism and nationalism and perceived “success” all while a media blackout, a well-planned hasbara campaign and a public hungry for “action” fuel the war-terror machine with their blessings and support, that they will blaze ahead, losing sight of why-ever the hell they think they started this and whatever the hell it was supposed to achieve (the latest line is “increasing their deterrent force”).
The herd mentality at its best.
Barak’s popularity is through the roof: street parades for the war hero who makes the public feel “safe” and “secure”.
To quote Gideon Levy, it is “war as child’s play“:
“…pilots bombing unimpeded as if on practice runs, tank and artillery soldiers shelling houses and civilians from their armored vehicles, combat engineering troops destroying entire streets in their ominous protected vehicles without facing serious
opposition. A large, broad army is fighting against a helpless population and a weak, ragged organization that has fled the conflict zones and is barely putting up a fight. All this must be said openly, before we begin exulting in our heroism and victory.”
Even the name of the “operation” (Cast Lead), which is lost on many, exudes innocence and excitement and joy.
According to my friend Mushon, who talks of the polarized rendering of events in the Israeli blog-o-sphere in his excellent post:
The blogs in Israel are divided between covering the terror of life in Sderot and the rest of the Israeli south under the Hamas rocket fire, and the excited coverage of the “glorious” operation titled ‘Cast Lead’ – quoting a Hanuka song where a child sings about playing with a Dreidel of cast lead – a holiday present from an uncle.
Mushon goes on to say that as a result, the coverage we are getting is confused and erratic, a reflection of the aimless war itself:
But overall, through out the whole operation there is no “bigger picture”, no objective report, no clue of what this operation aims to achieve or when will it end.
Also evident is an incipient racism gradually becoming acceptable in Israeli public discourse, as well as a “occupier as enlightener” mentality: Jewish women don’t cry like Arab women; Palestinians don’t exist as a nation anyway; they are violent; they are inhumane; we gave them the only good things they have; we just want to liberate them-we are on their side; and so on.
I have noticed this in Israeli media *and new media* accounts of the attacks against Gaza, accounts confirmed in conversations Israeli friends against the war have had with their friends- who have been quoting right wing European politicians in describing Gaza and Palestinians (yeah, those guys definitely on your side…) …hello.
In article entitled “Is Israel Losing the Media War in Gaza“, TIME talks of Israel’s “extensively planned hasbara campaign” ahead of the war o Gaza, and the bluntness with which Israeli officers speak to their domestic audiences (“We are very violent,” the commander of the Israeli army’s Élite combat engineering unit, Yahalom, told the Israeli press, “We do not balk at any means to protect the lives of our soldiers.”.)
These factors taken together might also explain the numerous accounts being heard of Palestinians being used as human shields by Israeli soldiers and being shot at (and in many cases, killed) as they raised white flags-after being ordered to leave their houses by those same soldiers: when there is no accountability, and an ingrained lethal ambiguity in “operating procedures”, why NOT be “very violent”; why NOT shoot at “any moving thing” to quote another young Israeli soldier in yesterday’s Haaretz?
Now Olmert is avoiding meeting with his security cabinet so that a “timeline” can be avoided; and Livni is asking the international community for “more time” to “achieve their goals” (again: what exactly is the goal here? Human suffering? destruction of infrastructure so that Abbas can rebuild it? Sowing more anger and destroying hope? all of the above?);
Not that the Israeli government gives a damn about the international community; Olmert made that very clear yesterday when he boasted to a press conference about how he had Bush pulled aside from a speech he was giving about education policy to order Rice to abstain from a UN Security Resolution she helped draft. Rice says his rendering of events is “fiction” (perhaps he was drunk with the inebriants of his war…).
As I conclude typing this post, as Livni lobbies for more time and Olmert does his song and dance, another night of terror and confusion has passed on Gaza, another weary dawn has risen.
I was unable to speak with my parents all day, and so I rang him just after midnight my time. He sounded wrecked and suffocated, not his usual collected self. “I’m so tired… I’m just so tired. I didn’t sleep all night, the bombs are tearing through my head. I really have no idea what’s going on outside, nobody has any idea what’s going on…Aljazeera in Qatar called to ask me if I knew what was going on…and what this is about anymore. I can’t even here anything on the radio anymore, everyone is just praying. I really just want to go now dear, I’m sorry. Goodbye.” he ended abruptly.
“Seedo?” piped in Yousuf. “Just remember- the only one who has the power to stop this is God.”