Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Only Jewish Prophet Left – Gideon Levy on the Gradual Death of Israel’s Soul

After arguing on purely pragmatic grounds that the present war on Gaza is unnecessary, stupid, and liable to cause enormous suffering to Israel, it is now time to turn to questions that don't interest most defenders of Israel at this moment – the moral price. Every time you think that Israel has hit rock bottom with respect to morality, we learn the painful truth – we still can and will descend further into the muck.

Remember when some of us were shocked that a settler killed a Palestinian? Or that the IDF assassinated leaders of the PLO and Hamas, when the latter was a political party that we had allowed participate in Palestinian elections? Or that a ton bomb was dropped on Salah Shahadeh, killing innocent civilians? At the time of the latter, the IDF spokesman said that "the IDF and the ISA stated that if their information had indicated with certainty the presence of innocent civilians in Shehadeh's vicinity, the timing or the method of the action would have been changed, as was done a number of times in the past." See here. Mind you, Shahadeh was considered to be a notorious terrorist, who had masterminded the deaths of dozens of Israelis, and injuring hundreds of others. It is hard to think that his position in Hamas, or his danger to Israel, was any less than that of Nizar Ghayan, whom Israel assassinated last week, together with 15 innocent people.

Ah, the bad old days, good in comparison to these. Now, if a Hamas leader is in a house surrounded with civilians, Israelis says, "Tough luck on them; it's their fault, or it is his fault; in any event, we couldn't give a shit, even if it looks bad in the media."

Remember when we said that the only terrorist that we could justifiably kill without a trial was a ticking-bomb?

What has happened? Some will say that years of terrorist attacks against Israel's civilian populace have hardened their hearts. The only problem with that theory is that only a handful of Israelis have died in the last several years from terrorist attacks. The Shahadeh assassination was at the height of the Intifada, when Jews were being blown up left and right, and then it was a big deal, at least for the Israeli left.

Others will say that even though only a few Jews have died, an entire population has been living in fear of rocket attacks. Isn't that enough to deaden one's sympathy for the other side?

Frankly, I don't think so. What motivates Israel's actions in this "war" (actually, it's more like a turkey shoot) is the same thing that motivated in the second Lebanese war – the hatred and frustration generated by the knowledge that those little Arab pishers can keep firing rockets, and we can't stop them.

Do you think I am exaggerating? In an article in the local newspaper Ha'Ir on Shabbat by Litel Grossman called, "Silence of the Doves," Haim Oron, the leader of the so-called Leftwing Meretz party explained how he came to support the war in Gaza.

Last Thursday, after Hamas sent tens of Hassam rockets, I came to the conclusion that we have to respond to them. People in the street tore me with their looks, as if they were saying, "How long will you continue with this humiliation." I pleaded that the rockets stop, but I could not bear to see the pictures of hopeless Israeli children."

No, this is not settler leader Israel Harel talking of "humiliation". It is Haim Oron, a self-described "humanist". Or how about his colleague, Musi Raz, one of the leaders of Peace Now:

Look, context is important, but if a man comes and slaps a passerby, you have to go after the attacker, even if he is was abused as a child. The fact that Palestinians have suffered under an occupation for forty years and have all the reasons to act aggressively against us doesn't justify war crimes.

Duh! But it also doesn't justify Israel's attacks leaving (so far) over 400 dead, a quarter of them civilians, and many more to come. There are other ways to take care of the attacker besides pounding another passerby in the gut.

Like…go to a policeman?

Anyway, here is Levy's piece. He has been writing at his best, lately. That's never a good sign, is it?

And there lie the bodies


By Gideon Levy


The legend, lest it be a true story, tells of how the late mathematician, Professor Haim Hanani, asked his students at the Technion to draw up a plan for constructing a pipe to transport blood from Haifa to Eilat. The obedient students did as they were told. Using logarithmic rulers, they sketched the design for a sophisticated pipeline. They meticulously planned its route, taking into account the landscape's topography, the possibility of corrosion, the pipe's diameter and the flow calibration. When they presented their final product, the professor rendered his judgment: You failed. None of you asked why we need such a pipe, whose blood will fill it, and why it is flowing in the first place.

Regardless of whether this story is legend or true, Israel is now failing its own blood pipeline test. As Israel has been preoccupied with Gaza throughout the entire week, nobody has asked whose blood is being spilled and why. Everything is permitted, legitimate and just. The moral voice of restraint, if it ever existed, has been left behind. Even if Israel wiped Gaza off the face of the earth, killing tens of thousands in the process, as a Chechnyan laborer working in Sderot proposed to me, one can assume that there would be no protest.

They liquidated Nizar Ghayan? Nobody counts the 20 women and children who lost their lives in the same attack. There was a massacre of dozens of officers during their graduation ceremony from the police academy? Acceptable. Five little sisters? Allowed. Palestinians are dying in hospitals that lack medical equipment? Peanuts. Whatever happened to the not-so-good old days of Salah Shahadeh? When we liquidated him in July 2002, we also killed 15 women and children. At least back then, moral qualms were raised for a moment.



Here lie their bodies, row upon row, some of them tiny. Our hearts have turned hard and our eyes have become dull. All of Israel has worn military fatigues, uniforms that are opaque and stained with blood and which enable us to carry out any crime. Even our leading intellectuals fail to speak out on what havoc we have wreaked. Amos Oz urges: "Cease-fire now." David Grossman writes: "Hold your fire. Stop." Meir Shalev wants "a punitive operation." And not one word about our moral image, which has been horribly distorted.

The suffering in the south renders everything kosher, as if the horrible suffering in Gaza pales in comparison. Everyone is hungry for revenge, and that hunger is excused by the need for "deterrence," after it was already proved that the killing and the destruction in Lebanon did not achieve it.

Yes, I know, war is war. After all, they brought this on themselves. They are a terrorist organization and we are not. They want to destroy us and we seek peace. Still, is there nothing here that will stop this blood pipeline? Even those whose hearts are hardened by "moral righteousness" will have to momentarily halt the bombing machine and ask: Which Israel do we have before us? What will become of its standing in the world, which is now watching the events in Gaza? What are we inflicting on the moderate Arab regimes? And what of the simmering popular hatred we are sowing throughout the world? What good will emerge from this killing and destruction?

It is doubtful whether Hamas will be cut down to size as a result of this wretched war. Yet, the face of the state has been cut down to size, as have civilian elites who are apathetic and scared. The "peace camp," if it ever existed, has been cut down to size. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz authorized the Ghayan killing, regardless of the cost. Haim Oron, the leader of the "new left-wing movement," supported the launch of this foolish war.

Nobody is coming to the rescue - of Gaza or even of the remnants of humanity and Israeli democracy. The statesmen, the jurists, the poets, the authors, academe, and the news media - pitch black over the abyss. When the time comes for reckoning, we will need to remember the damage this war did to Israel: The blood pipeline it laid has been completed.


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