Operation Wrath of God. Operation Bramble Bush. Operation Defense Shield. Operation Cast Lead. Operation Pillar of Defense. Operation Brothers’ Keeper. And as of last week, Operation Protective Edge.
Welcome to the Israel Defense Forces, where the brutal meets the biblical. As codenames for its military manoeuvres suggest, the State of Israel has been in a vendetta kind of mood. Tel Aviv calls this latest offensive ‘Protective Edge’, as in protection from Hamas rocket fire.
A fair fight, Israel versus Hamas. We’ve been here before: the Middle East’s most ferocious fighting force taking on sad and bad rocketeers — the Israeli Defense Forces against Improvised Flying Tubes. We’re told this is the Biggest Operation since the Last Big Operation, a frenzy of white lies and white phosphorous that killed 1,400 Palestinians, outweighed, of course, by 13 Israelis.
The latest death toll is about as skewed — this is Gaza after all. Operation Protective Edge has murdered 150 Palestinians and counting. A staggering 70 per cent are civilian, says the UN, of which another 30 per cent are children. On the other hand, Hamas rockets have thus far caused ‘mental and spiritual anguish’ to the locals.
Even the Israeli spin machine can’t sell it. May we look to the independent press for the truth instead?
Not exactly. Balancing the picture is the BBC, with such headlines as ‘Israel under renewed Hamas attack’. As a former BBC staffer once put, it would seem all animals are equal, but that some animals are more equal than others. It would also seem Orwell’s honesty died with him.
And speaking of honesty’s slow and painful death, Binyamin Netanyahu is everywhere at all times, the same old sound bites at hand. ‘No country on earth would remain passive in the face of rockets fired on its cities,’ shrugs Tricky Bibi.
‘Well yes,’ replied journalist Robert Fisk, ‘but we Brits don’t have more than a million former inhabitants of the UK cooped up in refugee camps over a few square miles around Hastings.’ Bibi wasn’t listening.
Because the beauty of the Israel-Palestine ‘conflict’ is exactly that — a ‘conflict’ between two sides, entertaining ideas of symmetric warfare that do not exist. What human rights groups call ‘culling’, Fox News calls ‘clashes’.
But wait, there’s all that Arab unrest; armed militias robbing banks and claiming caliphates. Mightn’t one of them turn their guns on Israeli Apaches than the ‘apostates’ at home? Behold ISIS even, the same desperadoes that massacre Shias and crucify Sunnis — that vow to wrest away Rome from Frankish Europe. Who better to take on Binyamin than the guys harder than Hamas?
As it turns out, they’re not hard at all. ‘God has not ordered us to engage in jihad against Israel,’ says an ISIS man. Another says they prefer focusing on ‘infidels’ and ‘idolaters’ for the time being. Best to bomb shrines and ban trousers, the Islamic State deems.
And how could they not? The DNA of ISIS is the DNA of fasaad: Arabic for the spread of disharmony within the Muslim community, never without. Thus ISIS joins the rest of our schismatics — from the Khwarij in Arabia to the Assassins in Persia, from Boko Haram in Africa to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in North Waziristan — maiming Muslims and little else.
We have good old gutlessness to thank for that, famous among extremists our side of the world. Shoot little girls, pardon Israeli gunships.
Which brings us back to the inevitable: the State of Israel pounds Gaza, the Americans cheer them on, and the Arabs shake their fists — at Iran. It was never about peace, because it was always about land. And it’s about leaders from Ehud to Avigdor eating as much of it as they can. So what’s different?
Everything, if the trends hold steady.
Because the biggest threat to Israel might be Israel itself, even with all its Jericho missiles and Iron Domes: a sacred temple that rots from within.
Aready, the demons Israel fights are its own. ‘Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,’ said academic Avner Cohen, a creation meant to counter Yasser Arafat’s boys in Fatah. And just as Israel nursed Hamas to health, it was General Sharon that fathered Hezbollah; by massacring Lebanese women and children in the ’80s.
And unchallenged by the outside world, Israel’s violence is growing vulgar. It was Sharon himself that realised the dream of Greater Israel was a nightmare: ‘If we insist on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all.’
Because a maximal dream draws maximal supporters. Today’s Israeli youth are more right-wing than at any time in history, spanning Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party to Liberman’s hard-right Yisrael Beiteinu to the finally crazy Jewish Home.
But as Tel Aviv grows uglier, support for its aggression among America’s intellectual elite grows less unconditional — if at a snail’s pace. From Noam Chomsky’s potent boycott to Barack Obama’s impotent anger, criticism of Israeli policy no longer banishes Americans from polite society.
It was, in fact, Boston-born Max Blumenthal, author of Goliath — Greater Israel’s most comprehensive critique — that suggested solutions, ‘I think it’s up to progressive activists within the Democratic Party who are disgusted with the status quo, and want to take concrete action against a system that is clearly based on apartheid, to start cultivating candidates.’
To be sure, it will be Washington’s liberals that will make a difference, long before any of our Gulf kings. But down below, in the war for hearts and minds, Israel is losing fast. Any child with an Internet connection can access Israeli selfies screaming ‘Death to Arabs’ (among variants less printable). And like the selfies its teenagers take, the State of Israel is growing racist, deluded, and doomed to fail.
History at its cruellest, perhaps. ‘The world was wrong to think that Nazism was defeated in 1945,’ said Dr Haidar Eid. ‘Nazism has won because it has finally managed to Nazify the consciousness of its own victims.’ A conclusion we could learn from.
‘Be careful when you fight the monsters,’ said Nietzsche, ‘lest you become one.’
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2014.
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