Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Troops Are Frustrated

A 12 year old Palestinian girl was killed on April 10, 2006 in Gaza. Thirteen other members of her family including her pregnant mother, toddlers, children and teen-agers were injured by Israeli shelling. The shelling continued.

The new government is still in the process of formation and coalition discussions have just begun.

Ehud Olmert, who had to make do until now with the title of ‘acting prime minister’ has now become prime-minister designate. And in some sort of a record, he is on his way to becoming a certified war criminal from day one of his new position.
The Palestinian militants in Gaza have devised a method of manufacturing, crude, primitive home made rockets. It is not difficult to slip into the nearest field and fire a couple of these off in the direction of the closest Israeli location. It is only very rarely that these rockets, Kassems in the local vernacular, cause any damage and casualties are few and very far between. This is not to say that it is very pleasant living under the threat of these rockets; it is annoying and may be even nerve racking. Israelis in the area demand expensive building modifications. And of course, there are those who trot out the old complaint: We are powerful and have this enormous army, so why do we have to suffer from this sort of thing?

The colonels and the majors are frustrated. Day in day out, a couple of rockets are fired. As a rule they fall in empty fields, in the sea, even in Palestinian territory, though some do hit the towns. As a rule no one is hurt. But the prestige of the colonels and the majors is hurt. The prestige of their superiors, the leaders of the strongest power in the region and its generals is damaged and that hurts more than anything else. What shall we do? Golda Meir said she hated the Palestinians for forcing us to do things to them that we did not want to do. The Goliath IDF starts bombing, and shelling, the artillery roars. The rockets do not go away. It is clear to everyone that “mere” bombing and shelling of the rocket launching areas will not stop the rockets. So the military correspondents and commentators are pressed into action. They explain that death and destruction, mayhem and murder of yes, civilians, will send a clear message to the Palestinians. Civilian deaths are necessary because it is not enough to try and kill terrorists. A political message is necessary. Stop the rockets or pay the price. In short, the frustrated military and the collaborating political echeleons decided in cold-blood to kill Palestinian civilians in order to send a message. To whom? To Hamas. To Fatah. To Abu Mazen. How many are to be murdered in this fashion? The number is a military secret, like Dubya’s withdrawal date. Israel has decided to murder innocent civilians to convince the Palestinians to stop the rockets. It wants it understood that the IDF will continue the killing until the Palestinian masses will rise up and smash those who refuse to get the message. This is explained day after day on Israel media as an inevitable consequence of the rockets. Golda’s ghost has arisen.

Ha’aretz reports (April 11, 2006): “Hundreds of artillery shells are being fired daily, along with air strikes, missiles and canon from naval vessels off shore…Recently, the IDF also reduced the ’safety zone’ artillery batteries must maintain around Palestinian communities. The military was aware that the decision could result in civilian casualties as occurred yesterday. The safety zone was reduced from 300 meters to 100 meters. The shell fragmentation range is 100 meters so the decision clearly endangers civilian lives.” This is happening in one of the most densely populated areas on the planet.

The media photos of hastily bandaged children being transported to the local hospital do create some kind of stir, even in the Israel media. The official response is to up the level of the commentators, especially since the next day, four additional (ineffectual) rockets come down. The general in charge of national security explains that ours is a long haul strategy. The minister of defense and the chief of staff huddle with the officers on the spot. But the two cannot even get their story straight. Halutz, the soldier, explains that there is no intention to harm Palestinians. Mofaz, the politician is much more open: If it isn’t quiet on our side, it will not be quiet on their side. The news report is careful to report that the troops are still frustrated.

Coalition Racism

A rabble-rousing crypto-fascist by the name of Avigdor Lieberman is the inside choice for receiving the Minister of Internal Security (the Police Ministry) portfolio in Ehud Olmert’s new, still evolving cabinet. Racism usually adopts its demands to local circumstances. Around here, the racists build on and intensify widespread anxieties in the Israeli populace, and come out with the slogans and arguments that are just not evoked by decent, responsible politicians. You see, now that we have a Jewish state, we must be concerned as to how Jewish our Jewish state is. Do not assume that this is a question of public morality, culture, wisdom and social solidarity, or a challenge of how exactly Israel is a “light unto the nations.”

Instead, we are back to the demographic issue, the happy hunting ground of the anti-immigration scoundrels all over the world. But here, we have a novel twist. In most places, the locals argue for restrictions on immigration. Lieberman’s party is a party of new immigrants, and its racism is directed against the Palestinian citizens of Israel. The name of Lieberman’s party is “Yisrael Beitenu” – (Israel is Our Home) and you do not have to be too sharp to pick up on the real meaning of this seemingly innocuous designation. The party platform reeks with warnings of the ‘internal’ demographic danger to Israel’s existence. The high point is the demand to transfer two areas, populated by Palestinian Arabs, citizens of Israel, to the Palestinian Authority. As of now, it appears that Olmert, with the compliance of Peretz’s Labor Party is going make this man responsible for the equal and fair application of the law.