FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israel and Ethics

by Kathleen Christison Former CIA Political Analyst

In the never-ending propaganda show designed to depict Israel as a moral nation victimized by immoral terrorists and anti-Semites, CNN recently ran a film clip of the late Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin declaiming, as only he could, “Nobody should preach to us ethics, nobody!”

And, of course, few do.

It’s the general assumption among the vast majority of Americans that no on can preach ethics to Israel, that light unto nations. No nation is more ethical or more innocent–or so we are told.

But I can’t get something I recently saw off my mind. Every so often in the midst of a deluge of information something leaps out at you as unique–utterly electrifying, utterly horrifying, almost mind-altering in a way. One’s senses become dulled after months, years, of reading about and seeing images on television of innocents dead from Palestinian terrorist attacks, of other innocents dead from Israeli tank or sniper fire, of cities and refugee camps devastated, in recent weeks of the entire civilian infrastructure of Palestinian society destroyed. But one searing article leapt out the other day that has stuck in my craw, and I cannot let go of it.

In an article in the May 6 issue of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz entitled “Someone Even Managed to Defecate into the Photocopier,” Amira Hass–an honest, courageous Israeli woman who has spent years living among Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza–described the scenes of destruction at the Palestinian Ministry of Culture left behind after Israeli military forces lifted their siege of the towns of Ramallah and its suburb al-Birah, where the ministry is located.

Entering the building after its month-long occupation by an Israeli military unit, ministry officials, foreign cultural attaches, and reporters found a scene of grotesque vandalism. Equipment from the local radio and television station had been hurled from windows in the multi-story building, electronic equipment was destroyed or had been stolen, furniture was broken and piled up on heaps of papers, books, computer disks, and broken glass. Children’s paintings had been destroyed.

And then there was this, as described by Hass: “There are two toilets on every floor, but the soldiers urinated and defecated everywhere else in the building, in several rooms of which they had lived for about a month. They did their business on the floors, in emptied flowerpots, even in drawers they had pulled out of desks. They defecated into plastic bags, and these were scattered in several places. Some of them had burst. Someone even managed to defecate into a photocopier. The soldiers urinated into empty mineral water bottles. These were scattered by the dozen in all the rooms of the building, in cardboard boxes, among the piles of rubbish and rubble, on desks, under desks, next to the furniture the soldiers had smashed, among the children’s books that had been thrown down. Some of the bottles had opened and the yellow liquid had spilled and left its stain.

“It was especially difficult to enter two floors of the building because of the pungent stench of feces and urine. Soiled toilet paper was also scattered everywhere. In some of the rooms, not far from the heaps of feces and the toilet paper, remains of rotting food were scattered. In one corner, in the room in which someone had defecated into a drawer, full cartons of fruits and vegetables had been left behind. The toilets were left overflowing with bottles filled with urine, feces and toilet paper. Relative to other places, the soldiers did not leave behind them many sayings scrawled on the walls. Here and there were the candelabrum symbols of Israel, stars of David, praises for the Jerusalem Betar soccer team.”

This is not a tale we are ever likely to see in the American press, so the vast majority of Americans who think with Menachem Begin that nobody can preach to Israel about ethics, that Israel’s army is the only moral army in the world and always employs the doctrine of “purity of arms,” will go on thinking that way.

But I cannot.

I am forced to ask some questions that that American majority will no doubt never hear: Can it, for instance, be called terrorism if an entire unit of the Israeli army forsakes purity of arms and spends a month crapping on floors, on piles of children’s artwork, in desk drawers, on photocopiers?

Is this self-defense, or “rooting out the terrorist infrastructure”?

Is it anti-Semitic to wonder what happened to the moral compass of a society that spawns a group of young men who will intermingle their own religious and national symbols with feces and urine, as if the drawings and the excrement both constitute valued autographs?

Do they think Israeli shit is cleaner, holier than anyone else’s?

Why are my taxes paying for this army?

How can Palestinians ever make peace in the face of filth and disrespect like this?

Kathleen Christison worked for 16 years as a political analyst with the CIA, dealing first with Vietnam and then with the Middle East for her last seven years with the Agency before resigning in 1979. Since leaving the CIA, she has been a free-lance writer, dealing primarily with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her book, “Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy,” was published by the University of California Press and reissued in paperback with an update in October 2001. A second book, “The Wound of Dispossession: Telling the Palestinian Story,” was published in March 2002. Both Kathy and her husband Bill, also a former CIA analyst, are regular contributors to the CounterPunch website.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
Joshua Frank
Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail