Thursday, January 22, 2009

Don’t Just Speak Out, Cry Out!

Now that the artillery has ceased firing, we are seeing a few Israelis speak out against the horrors of this so-called war, a war whose main goal was not to stop the rocket fire, which could have been done without a single death, but rather to wreak havoc on a defenseless civilian population. (That statement, of course, is not at all controversial, since even defenders of the war concede that the purpose of wreaking havoc was to weaken Hamas, and to show them that "the boss went crazy.")

Tom Segev, who wrote eloquently against the unnecessary and immoral war from the outset, has published a piece about the scandal of Israeli apathy. I hope his "History Lesson: The History of [Israeli] Self-Righteousness" is translated into English.

The history of Israeli self-righteousness is rich with condemnations and expressions of regret over injuring civilians. Israel's self-image is based on the assumption that the IDF is better than other armies. "We at least try not to injure civilians." That wasn't true even before the destruction and the death that the IDF sowed in Gaza in recent weeks. But this time it seems that many fewer Israelis than in the past feel that what happened there – should not have happened.

This operation stands out not only in its cruelty, but mainly because it did not succeed in drawing Israelis out of their apathy. This apathy is chiling and is no less shameful than the actions themselves.

Haaretz, in an editorial, has called for a governmental inquiry into war crimes. Even a wimpy Labor party liberal like philosopher Yirmiyahu Yovel has written a powerful accusation against Israel's conduct of the war. I don't agree with his claim that Israel's aim was just. But I certainly agree that it was deadly, and that the campaign was morally despicable

Of course, most of the Israelis I know are damn satisfied with the death and destruction. "Don't blame us for the death of all those babies. We only killed them – it wasn't, like, our fault, or anything. Hey, the Americans killed more people in Dresden and Hiroshima" (My God, I have heard normal people speak such obscene filth.)

Still, like Abraham, I am hoping that a few more righteous people in Sodom will emerge, and that even, mirabile dictu, a prominent religious Jew will speak out against the slaughter. (Hey, if you are orthodox, you have a certain faith in miracles.)

But a governmental inquiry into Israeli war crimes? Not by the Israeli government, please.

No, the civilized people of the world, Jew and Gentile, should cry out against the barbarism. Sign the petition Richard Silverstein and I have written here, at the very least. Or better yet, send a letter to your local newspaper, call a radio station.

Don't just speak out, cry out!

11 comments:

Y. Ben-David said...

The real irony of this whole thing is that it was the "peace camp" that carried out this war. An original, founding member of Peace Now, Yuli Tamir, was a member of the Cabinet, and she went along with the whole thing. We didn't see her resign in protest as did some Likud ministers did during the Lebanon I war. The "accursed" Likudniks, settlers, and Orthodox/Religious are all outside the gov't and in the opposition (Yes, SHAS is in the coalition, but they are merely a decoration included there so that it can't be said that the gov't is "anti-religious"-in reality they have no influence whatsoever). In fact, many of us on what you would call the "Far Right" opposed the war (although ackowledging that it was justified), knowing it would bring death and destruction without solving anything
Now, "Jerry", having said the Jews of Hevron are "not really Jews", what do you make of the Israeli "Peace Camp"? Are they "really Jews"? Are they really for "peace"? To me this just proves they are a bunch of hypocrites who don't care about peace, don't care about human rights, they only care about maintaining political power and "feeling good about themselves".
We of the "Far Right" have always said that the Oslo Agreements, by forcing a corrupt, dictatorial regime on the Palestinians, proved that the "peace camp" doesn't care about the Palestinians or their welfare. Oslo was carried out in order to get Peres and Rabin the Nobel "Peace" Prize and to win the kudos of the international "progressive" movements the Israeli Left has so ardently courted for decades. Another example is how the "peace camp", which excoriated Ariel Sharon for years , supposedly because of the loss of life in his Lebanon I War and Sabra and Shatilla, suddenly forgave him and put in in the pantheon as "the greatest Prime Minister after Ben-Gurion". Why did they forget all the terrible things he did before? Because he destroyed Gush Katif and stuck it to his former friends in the YESHA settlement movement. So you see, it is not "morality" that the "Peace Camp" cares about, it is only politics. Sharon smacked their political opponents, so all is forgiven.
When Sharon and the Likud betrayed their voters by destroying Gush Katif (which we of the "far right" warned would lead to a bloody war), the "peace camp" applauded, saying that the "Right had it coming". Now that the political "Peace Camp" has done the same, how does it feel to those who really believed them?

Shmuel said...

By now, I'm pretty used to being called a "self-hating Jew". So why am I so devastated by what has become of my people, history and tradition? I find myself agreeing more and more with Neturei Karta's old slogan: "Judaism and Zionism are diametrically opposed". What I lack however, is their conviction that Zionism is only a temporary aberration.

Meyrick Kirby said...

As an Englishman I believe I have a right, even a duty to talk about Dresden and more widely Bomber Commands strategic bombing of German Cities in WW2. Bomber Harris was quite clear that he was targeting German civilians, in the hope to disrupt war production and destroy German morale, without having to invade Germany.

He failed. German production increased and morale remained high. Germany was only defeated by a land invasion.

And I will go further and say the targeting of German civilians after German no longer represented an existential threat to the UK, i.e. after the Soviet Union and the United States joined the war, was amoral.

TimothyL said...

Israel's assault on Gaza had nothing to do with strategic or tactical military objectives. It was irrational killing and wounding of a Arab population that was vulnerable to a pretextual attack. The mistake is to seek a reason, a rationale that appeals to civilized norms. There is none. This reflects the evolution of Zionism to from "negotiation with" to "eradication of" indigenous Arabs. Israel is not interested in being a neighbor of a Palestinian State - it doesn't want one - period. That explains Gaza, the Wall, the prohibitions to mixing and localized travel which effect a forced separation of the peoples, etc. etc. Bottom line: Israel doesn't want to inhabit the Middle East with Arabs - it wants to live in its own Arab-free world. Since it can't relocate geographically, the next step it to eliminate contact with Arabs - snd one way to do that is to do everything it can to prevent having an Arab State neighbor - Palestine. Negotiations and "peace" mean being a good neighbor - anethma to today's Zionists in Israel.

Anonymous said...

l1zon2eMoments ago, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced their choice of former Senator George Mitchell for the role of special envoy for Middle East Peace.

How about that?

meddy said...

"Bomber Harris was quite clear that he was targeting German civilians,"

It is often remarked that the Israeli techniques of repression are rooted in the practices of British colonial rule in Palestine.
It just so happens that Arthur Harris was one of the perps --

"The RAF commander in Palestine in 1938, Air Commodore Arthur Harris, ruminating on the fact that ‘the only thing the Arab understands is the heavy hand’, condemned the ‘supineness’ of ‘the local civil obstructionists here’, adding indiscreetly to his correspondent at Middle East Headquarters that ‘my views and language about them are moderate - you ought to hear the GOC when he is really in form.’ 3
‘Bomber’ Harris had, naturally enough, the key to counter-insurgency operations:
One 250lb or 500lb bomb in each village that speaks out of turn within a few minutes or hours of having so spoken, for example; or the complete blotting out of a few selected haunts, pour encourager les autres. 4"
The Defence of Palestine: Insurrection and Public Security, 1936-1939
Charles Townshend The English Historical Review, Vol. 103, No. 409. (Oct., 1988), pp. 917-949.

Peter said...

Y. Ben-David. You are mixing things up. First, neither Olmert nor Livni have any credentials to belong to the so-called Peace Camp. Second, you are absolutely right about large parts of the so-called Peace Camp being hypocritical, ineffectual and outright criminal. This is why many people realized a long time ago that what is called "left" in Israel is called "center" at best in the rest of the world. The real peace camp is not Labor and not even Meretz, which supported this war (though, some more out of cowardice to be called traitors than out of real conviction). What is the real peace camp then? It is hard to see and this is a tragedy of Israel and a sign of the dire straights it finds itself in. It is Hadash and BeTzelem and Breaking the Silence and Ometz Lesarev and Machsom Watch and some others. They are far and few between, yes: it is tragedy and not something to be proud of.
Now, it is true that the so-called Peace Camp supported some disastrous policies, but at least grant some of these people good intentions that paved a road to hell, rather than vicious intent to begin with.

Peter said...

By the way, Y Ben David, dear, mind pointing me to those "many of us on what you would call the "Far Right" [who] opposed the war"? (Our mutual acquaintance Yisrael Medad was definitely not one of them) Did they speak out against it anywhere or only to themselves? Maybe they demonstrated against it and were called traitors and even beaten by fascist hooligans and the police?
And how on earth do you call something "justified" knowing that "it would bring death and destruction without solving anything"? Is it some kind of logic and morality that is widespread among many of you "on what you would call the "Far Right""? Prithee, explain!

Anonymous said...

Still, like Abraham, I am hoping that a few more righteous people in Sodom will emerge, and that even, mirabile dictu, a prominent religious Jew will speak out against the slaughter.
And like Abraham how few will be enough for you, or for God?

Justin White said...

Why do you say you are using an Orthodox perspective here but on Silver-drek's site you congratulate Siegman for having left observance? Contradiction...
The Anti-Self Defamation League
www.asdl.biz

Jerry Haber said...

Justin,

Serves me right for writing hastily on erev shabbas.

I meant that Siegman managed to grow out of the Zionistic propaganda of his youth, not the orthodox propaganda. Of course you don't have to be modern orthodox to be subject to Zionist propaganda, and, when Siegman was growing up, the Zionistic propaganda was not as strong in the modern orthodox community as today. Still, it was there.