FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Down and Out in The Hague

by YOEL MARCUS

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so small, uncomfortable and red-faced as during the show of whining and whimpering organized by Israel at The Hague. Colorful posters displaying photographs of 935 terror victims; Zaka rescue team workers led by Yehuda Meshi Zahav wearing their “work clothes”; memorial candles; parents talking about the pain of bereavement; doctors describing the savage nature of the suicide bombers; the wreckage of a burnt-out bus with a bereaved mother standing next to it, distributing “one-way tickets”–these are just some of the sights.

At the Foreign Ministry, these demonstrations are seen as an appropriate “J’accuse” against those who dare to put us in the guilty seat. In practice, it is a display of wretchedness and woe designed to tug at the heartstrings of international public opinion–like beggars who show off the stump of an arm or leg to make the world feel sorry for them.

These sights create a lingering sense of discomfort, not least because Israel is thought of–not only in the Middle East, but all over the world–as a powerhouse. In keeping with that image, the last thing one would think Israel needed was pity. Just this week, Israel received two snazzy new F-16s capable of flying to anywhere from Libya to Timbuktu. When the rest of the shipment arrives, Israel, with all its problems, will be bigger and stronger than ever before. To see it playing “poor Samson,” as Levi Eshkol liked to say, is just not credible.

At their demonstrations, the Palestinians could pull out photographs of more than 3,000 victims. As for playing on the emotions, they could easily flaunt their suffering. They could dwell on their destroyed homes and the torment they endure at army checkpoints. But instead of harping on their misfortunes, they have focused on Israel’s occupation policies and the security fence. They have appealed to the world’s sense of justice, while we seek the world’s pity.

The legal experts were divided over whether Israel should appear at the international court in The Hague. But the moment they decided not to, they should have carried that decision to the end. If Israel is not in the courtroom, it should not be standing outside playing the poor victim–first of all, because this won’t affect what goes on in the courtroom anyway, and second of all, because out on the street, the Palestinian argument is more convincing. Instead of moaning, they talk about occupation, about human rights, about the theft of their land. They don’t have to wave around pictures of their dead. The fence has dropped into their laps like a PR gift from heaven just as the anti-Semitic stigma of the Jewish thief is making a comeback in Europe.

Israel hasn’t made up its own mind yet about whether the thing going up is a fence or a wall. It depends where you’re standing. But whether you see barbed wire or eight-meter high concrete slabs, it is clear that this barrier symbolizes Israel’s slapdash mentality at its worst.

From Sharon’s anti-fence days until today, when he enthusiastically supports its completion, the government has never been handed a neatly-typed, bound copy of anything remotely resembling a master plan for the fence. Constructing it has been like playing with Lego blocks, adding sections as needed.

If the only reason for the fence were preventing terror, presumably it could just as well have been built on the Israeli side of the Green Line. But once it goes past the boundaries established by the British Mandate, Israel is unilaterally creating a new border which takes bites out of Palestinian Authority land. Israel’s slapdash policies have not taken into account how badly the route of this fence can tarnish Israel’s image. Call it a fence, or call it something else, but it is bound to become a symbol.

There is no power in the world that can stop a suicide bomber from entering Israel, and no weapon that can’t get around the fence, from the top or the bottom or the sides.

The Palestinians are fighting occupation and we want the world to stand by us as we pay the price for that occupation. Sooner or later, the fence will fall, just like the Berlin Wall.

The bereaved parents from Mitzpeh Aviv, shocked to see a photograph of their son, who was killed in a terrorist attack a year and a half ago, being waved around by a protester at The Hague as they sat watching TV, were right to protest to the Foreign Ministry. “You have made cynical use of our son’s memory and nationalized our sorrow,” they wrote.

Exploiting bereavement and wallowing in self-pity is fitting for soap operas–not for the strongest country in the Middle East.

YOEL MARCUS writes for Ha’aretz, where this column originally appeared.

 

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
Charles R. Larson
A Review of Mary Roach’s “Grunt”
David Yearsley
Stuck in Houston on the Cusp of the Apocalypse
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail