Thursday, January 15, 2009

The inebriants of Israel's war

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."



Blogger American 6103 said...

the goal, to break the palestinians will to fight. Isn't it obvious with this much force. A beaten in hopes of a short term submission of the enemy.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Assad said...

Life for Relief and Developement

Dear Assad,

Since the beginning of the war on Gaza last month, nearly 1,000 Palestinians have been killed, and over 4,000 more have been injured. There are critical shortages of just about everything: medicine, food, fuel, clean drinking water, etc.

According to the World Health Organization, “The health services in Gaza, already depleted and fragile, are on the point of collapse….”. The Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights reports that over 4,000 homes, 38 mosques, and 39 schools have been damaged or destroyed, while upwards of 90,000 people have fled their homes in search of safety.

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All Amounts Accepted!

Through our office in Nazareth, LIFE has been providing humanitarian assistance in Palestine since 2004, gaining permission from the Israeli authorities to operate in Gaza, even now, as the war rages on.

This week, LIFE has distributed another 1,000 food baskets to families taking shelter in UN schools, and we are finalizing plans for the delivery of 3 ambulances to Gaza.

Your donation will not end the war, but if it saves just one person from suffering, or even dying, then your effort will have achieved something great, and it will have been well worth it. Please do your part and donate now. You can donate online or over the phone by calling 1-800-827-3543.

Lastly, we encourage you to forward this email to your family and friends, and if possible, organize fundraising activities at your school, masjid, or church. If you need help organizing an event, please contact our fundraising department at 1-800-827-3543.

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give till it hurts...Allah promises you will be rewarded

9:46 AM  
Blogger nina said...

Dear Laila,
I'm so sad and angry, I'm numb.
I'm praying for your parents and people of Gaza.


12:28 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Laila, and everyone else who reads your blog, please listen to this report from an Egyptian hospital whose doctors are concerned that children are being shot in the head at close range. When you get to the page click on "Gaza Civilians". I am too angry to comment...

1:41 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Laila,

Since you monitor your comments. I hope you will be brave and publish this one.

You say "no clue of what this operation aims to achieve".
Israel's Gaza operation aim is to deter Hamas from firing rockets on the country's south in the future. We feel that this goal is close to chieve.

Laila, Unfortunately this is a war. This war is not a game for us. It is not a game for our soldiers. In this war there are many palestians victims. Some are innocents, some are not (I guess we will never know the ratio, since no side trusts the information given by the other side). You cannot isolate results of this war. You surely know that in the past years many innocents Israeli (kids, teenagers and women) died in suicide bomber attacks. For us, they are also victims of this war.

You are right claiming that in this war IDF do not balk at any means to protect the lives of its soldiers. In Lebanon soldiers got killed due to their hesitation to open fire toward enemy when they felt it might risk civillians. The enemy took advantage of our soldiers cautious and did not hesitate to attack them.
I am sure that if your son was a soldier you would refuse to scarify his life, by not fighting the enemy who is attacking him, while sheltering civillians.

I hope your parents are safe and stay safe until this nightmare is over.

I know that most of my fellow Israelis, even though they are happy we won this war, do not enjoy your pain. As it's written in Proverbs 24:17 "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice"

I hope those are the last hours of this war.

Maybe one day, very soon, you will come and visit me in Tel Aviv.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've missed a word...
wrting "I am sure that if your son was a soldier you would refuse to scarify his life, by not fighting the enemy who is attacking him, while sheltering civillians"

Should be sheltering behind civillians

5:46 PM  
Blogger Assad said...

wendy -- the IDF always has a high occurance of head shots and heart shots on babies

it is obvious that the IDF uses sharp shooters for it 'collatoral damage' on babies

5:55 PM  
Blogger Fatima said...

I'm really sorry about your father's situation. It must be really hard on you. May it all pass today before tomorrow.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Laila - I think you should read AB's letter to Gideon Levi. it might raise some interesting thoughts.

5:55 AM  
Blogger mink said...

As a Israeli abroad: watching Israeli society from afar feels like watching a close friend getting drunk and abusive, and there's not much you can do to stop it. First the euphoria of war, and then eventually a rude awakening (we are not there yet). I have seen this pattern two years ago, and here it is again. It is extremely frustrating also to notice Haaretz going jingoistic. How can they not see this futility of all this?

7:58 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Maybe the people in Gaza should start wearing yellow armbands like the Jewish people did in the Warsaw ghettos,maybe then they would realize what they are doing...if they don't already know.

9:47 PM  
Blogger MIchael said...

Geri, can you please explain me what is Palestine and what are it's borders?

11:40 PM  
Blogger Elrig Ciles said...

Smiley above wrote that we can never know the ratio of innocent victims and reminded us that "many innocent Israelis" have also died. (There's no ratio here; in Smiley's views all Israeli children must be innocents, where as Palestinian children can qualify as collateral damage.)

But we know how many children die on either side. Go to

It's all there.

Smiley is probably a nice guy, but is just a polished version of the new barbarianism which is leading the land to waste and destruction. If you ask whether I make a moral equivalent with Hizbollah and Brotherhood: you bet I do.

Elrig (livingbetweenworlds dot blogspot dot com)

4:06 AM  

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