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!