Fed Up with Whiners

by GIDEON LEVY

"The candle kids" grew up and became the "protest movement" of this war. The confused youth who sat crying with their guitars and candles in the city square in Tel Aviv after Rabin’s assassination are now sitting in the Rose Garden opposite the Prime Minister’s Office, no less confused, and seemingly protesting against the war – of course only after it ended.

Just as it was impossible to know what the candle kids wanted, it is difficult to understand what the reservists and the bereaved families want. Most of their complaints should be directed at themselves: Where were you until now? If it is only the demand that some officials go home, it’s a waste of their time and ours. Clones of those who are deposed will replace them very quickly and nothing will change. Olmert, Peretz and Halutz will go home, and Netanyahu, Mofaz and Barak will come to power.

For the first time after many terrible years in which we killed and were killed for no reason, there are question marks hanging over the public discourse. That change should be welcomed. But those who examine the content of the new protest should not hold out great hopes. The arguments of the protesters come down to two main issues, both of them as narrow as the world of the reservist: the IDF wasn’t prepared for the war, and the war was cut short.

On the first matter, many are responsible, and the second issue doesn’t warrant protest. Much weightier and deeper questions hover in the air about why we even went to this war, how it could have been avoided, why is war our only language, what are the limits of power that can be used and where are we going now. The new protest movement is not raising those questions.

Even if this wave of protests succeeds, a commission of inquiry is established and two or three people even pay with their seats, nothing will change. Just as the protests of 1973 did not bring about the desired change, except for a few people removed from office, the protests of 2006 won’t bring real change. Whining after the war is not a national agenda, and certainly not if it runs for its life from any of the main questions. If it is just the "orange" disengagement protesters in disguise, it even foretells new dangers.

Above all, the petition signers and sit-in protesters in the Rose Garden should ask themselves where they were until now. Except for the "oranges" among them, most voted Kadima, maybe Likud or Labor, many of them served in reserves in the occupied territories, dealt with their personal affairs and kept quiet. For years they took direct or indirect part in worthless national projects, from building the wall to the settlement enterprise and deepening the occupation. With their own eyes they saw how the IDF was turned into an occupying police force, bullying the weak but untrained to deal with the strong.

They protected settlers, saw the suffering caused by the occupation, were witness to or participated in abuse of Palestinians. The responsibility for the IDF’s lack of preparation, therefore, is theirs, partly because of what they did and partly because of their silence. They cannot claim now that they were surprised by the IDF’s failure to execute: they were there when the army changed its face. They knew all these years that checking IDs at roadblocks, invading bedrooms, chasing children in alleys and demolishing thousands of houses is no preparation for war.

They were supposed to understand that the occupation army’s activities in the territories inspires great hatred of us, that Israel’s rejectionists policies endanger it more than anything else and that the real test of the army is not in the casbahs. Even the home front’s lack of readiness should not have surprised them: a country that abuses its weak at times of quiet will do so in times of war, as well. What is so new and surprising about all this?

The other matter, the halt in the fighting, certainly does not warrant protest, but actually a compliment. Instead of asking why the war broke out, the protesters are asking why it ended. If there is anything that the war’s command deserves credit for it is its hesitation in the final stages of the war. It is a shame they did not hesitate sooner. And if we had continued the war, where exactly would we have ended up? It was the resolve, hubris and haste of the war’s leadership in the first stages that were the original sin against which the protest should be directed.

Above all, it is depressing to find out that none of the protesters are raising moral questions. A protest movement that says nothing about the terrible destruction we wreaked in Lebanon, how we killed hundreds of innocent civilians and turned tens of thousands into impoverished refugees is by definition not a moral movement. Even after it has been proved that the excessive force was not effective, no protest has been directed at it. How long will we only focus on ourselves and our distress?

Is it too much to ask for the protesters, who are supposedly the cadres of the avant garde, to look for a moment at what we did to another nation? Why is it that after Sabra and Chatilla massacres, which were not even directly our handiwork, masses of people took to the streets and now nobody peeps about the destruction we sowed in Lebanon with our own hands, and for nothing?

With such protest movements, Israel does not need the silent sheep that has so characterized it in recent years. We should be fed up with such whiners. Maybe they are brave soldiers on the battlefield, but on the fields of protest they are nothing more than cowardly soldiers.

GIDEON LEVY writes for Ha’aretz, where this essay originally appeared.




 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire