“They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind as it is very proper for those who tackle the darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look at it too much…”
— Joseph Conrad “Heart of Darkness”
A noticeable change has occurred in Israel since its bombardment of Gaza in 2008/9, what I have termed the Christmas bombing of imprisoned civilians caught in a steel net surrounding their sliver of land, a change that offers perspective on the altering mindset that guides this benumbed state. Then Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Saturday the 27th “…instructed the Foreign ministry to take emergency measures to adapt Israel’s international public relations to the ongoing escalation in the Gaza strip” (Haaretz, 12/28/08). Her intent as she ordered the military to continue its devastation of the Gazan people resulting in over 1400 dead, many children, was “to explain the rationale for the expanded IDF operations in the Gaza strip.” An all out call to PR personnel to mobilize was issued, including those with language proficiency in Arabic, Italian, Spanish and German, the better to muffle the voices of those finding fault with the invasion. She noted at the time that Israel expects foreign media and diplomatic figures to support Israel.
Today as the current spring rain of missiles pours down on Gaza, the intent arises from a totally different cause, a manufactured cause created by Netanyahu’s government directed at the Israeli people to elicit unconditional support to destroy Gaza. Max Blumenthal, recently returned from Israel, describes the maneuver in this way:
The entire crisis occurred against the backdrop of a peace process that Netanyahu was blamed for destroying and in the wake of the Hamas-Fatah unity deal, which the US recognized and which Netanyahu was determined to destroy as well. The kidnapping of the three Israeli teens by what appears to be a rogue Hamas cell apparently seeking to generate some kind of prisoner exchange was too good of an opportunity for him to waste.
And so, as I’ve documented with on-the-record sources, Israeli investigators, Netanyahu and the honchos of the military-intelligence apparatus knew by the sound of gunshots on a recorded call by the teens to the police that the teens were killed right away. And they chose to lie, not only to the teens’ parents, whom they sought to deploy as props in their global PR campaign, but to the Israeli public. Through a military gag order, the Israeli media was not allowed to report on the investigation or the details of the recorded phone call. With the Israeli public and the world convinced that the teens were alive, Israeli troops ransacked the West Bank under the guise of a rescue mission, and embarked on a global propaganda campaign centering around the hashtag #BringBackOurBoys. The Israeli public was not emotionally prepared for the discovery of the teens’ bodies because they thought they would be returned home as Gilad Shalit was. So Netanyahu and his inner circle set the public up for a truly dangerous reaction (Blumenthal, guernicamag.com. 7/16/14).
This is not a new tactic for Israeli governments to use, even against their own people; it has been a tactic from the inception of the state when such manipulation of the Jewish immigrants arriving in Palestine began, as the papers in the Rhodes House Archives of Sir Richard C. Catling attest. The uniqueness in this instance comes with its expectation that the kidnapping would release an as yet unseen racism against the government’s target, Hamas, and link it to the Gazan population as complicit in its desire to destroy Israel.
As these next few weeks unravel, it will become ever more apparent to the nations of the world that there is a different Israel in the making, one formed by the admission into the state of rabid and demented minds twisted by beliefs forced into their heads by psychotic teachers. Blumenthal makes reference to this mindset and its source:
“In Goliath, I detailed the rise of anti-Arab mobs comprised of soccer thugs and of the burgeoning anti-miscegenation movement in Israel. Netanyahu’s manipulation of the kidnapping and his response to the discovery of the dead teens—he said, “Vengeance for the blood of a small child, Satan has not yet created”—validated these elements and emboldened them as they set out for revenge.”
Demented minds thrive on demeaning the economically less fortunate, those of a different complexion, those who speak a different language, and those not of the tribe and its beliefs. They revel in small groups actively engaged in damning others, confronting individuals who have strayed into their lairs and become baubles of delight as they humiliate an innocent. Conversely they in turn find fewer and fewer people to associate with resulting in isolation from the main stream except as members of their packs, left out of activities because they do not speak as the normal teen or young adult speaks, do not enjoy the same entertainments and find themselves alone among their peers. Here is Blumenthal’s rendering of what happened: “Those young men who abducted the Palestinian teen Mohamed Abu Khdeir met at one of the revenge rallies in Jerusalem; they were fans of the soccer club Beitar Jerusalem, which I wrote about in Goliath and whose racist history is absolutely legion. The killers forced Abu Khdeir to drink gasoline and burned him alive. In a place where an eliminationist strain of racism has been so thoroughly mainstreamed, it might actually be a misnomer to call them “extremists.”
Let me return now to the quote that heads this piece. Conrad’s quote offers an opportunity to speculate on its deeper meaning: “…strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others ….” As the world views the Israeli slaughter of the fenced in people in Gaza, where missiles sent silently from a ship off Gaza’s coast slice through the flesh of four boys on the beach as they run for safety from a fisherman’s shack, as 18 members of a family are killed in a mass slaughter, as the number of children and women mount despite Israel’s protestation that they are warning people to leave their homes and the military use only precision weapons, are they witnessing as well the “weakness” of Israel?
“Strength” in Conrad’s quote is allied with “accident” and they are coupled, in turn, with “weakness.” Consider the meaning of Israel’s “superior force” if it causes the people of the world to react viscerally time and again to acts determined by miscalculation, technology error or chance, or are, in fact, deliberate, and the voices of the world communities turn against the people of Israel and its government in anger, frustration and even hatred. And if that reaction is fed further by the conscious awareness that this spring’s invasion is only the latest in a repetitive series—Lebanon in 1982 with the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, the massacres at Rafah and Jenin camps, the fall 2006 invasion of Lebanon, the Christmas invasion of Gaza, the 2012 invasion of Gaza—all executed with impunity to international law and consequent destruction of life and property, then is it not probable that the people of the world might react with visible and understandable demands that the UN and the US cease all such inhumane actions and force justice through the International Court of Justice? In short, the Israeli government is its own weakness caused by its own conscienceless behavior against the people of Palestine.
Weakness need not be caused by external forces alone; weakness can be inherent in the state oblivious to the horror of its own acts. Conscienceless acts by the government, as we have just seen, are the first of the inherent weaknesses that plague Israel. But then there is the other, perhaps even more pitiable than the first. That weakness can be mental, a madness arising from inculcated indoctrination into beliefs that give identity to a tribe and hence to an individual of the tribe solidifying personal exceptionalism, hence uniqueness, rights, control and the arrogance to impose their will on those perceived inferior.
Consider the Knesset members who add to the cacophony of hatred that prowls the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Here is the voice of Ayelet Shaked the day before Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khudair was kidnapped and burned alive. Six Israeli Jewish youths have confessed to the murder. Israeli lawmaker Ayelet, whose youthful face masks her inhumanity, placed a call for genocide of the Palestinians on Facebook. “…the entire Palestinian people is the enemy…including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.” These words not only trumpet savagery against Palestinians they laud those who would undertake such a mission. Perhaps in time, if her voice today becomes a clarion call beyond the minds of Israeli youth and squatters and reaches to the compassion resident in the hearts of all nations beyond Israel and the United States, she will live to see the demise of the state she calls to slaughter. And perhaps in time as she shows the world a face of age with its wrinkles and experience, she will reveal a repentant soul weeping for those she has destroyed.
Netanyahu has not had to resort to a publicity campaign as Livni did because he is encrusted in his own deception; Israel obeys only Israel because it controls the American veto and walks with impunity across the world’s stage fearful of none as it cries victim of all. That is an unbeatable combination that buries the weakness behind curtains of arrogance oblivious to the visceral response from the world community that sees in Israel a horror loose both in the UN and in the world.
The thugs Blumenthal describes in his interview do not dress as Livni’s Ambassador to the UN Daniel Gillerman dressed as he adorned himself in righteous rhetoric defending his state against those who would malign Israel’s efforts to “defend itself” against Palestinians out to “wipe Israel off of the map.” The nonsense of his comments speak for themselves; a wealthy state unleashes the fourth most state of the art military against a people surrounded by walls and an ocean and a sky controlled by Israel, invade a land packed with 1.6 million people who have no military to defend them and he asks the world to sympathize with this state that must defend itself though it has no borders, no constitution, and no acceptance of international law. But he sits there at the UN resplendent in gleaming suit and tie, lapel pin in place, tone appropriate to the anguish he claims to feel for those hurt in this need Israel must assert—how tender, how gratifying, how hypocritical. Yet that is what the world witnessed then. Now with the unveiling of “social media” the world is witness to something else.
The PR campaign Livni had to resort to cannot cover the reality of the demented that have voices in the Knesset, in the rants of right wing Rabbis, or in the gangs that control the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Nor can the New York Times reporters carry on as they have and here described by Blumenthal:
Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kershner and the rest of the reporters at the New York Times Jerusalem bureau actually have to devote endless stores of energy to avoid reporting on all of the outrages unfolding all around them. Instead of reporting on the Prawer Plan to ethnically cleanse Bedouin citizens of Israel, for example, or the anti-African race riots in Tel Aviv—pivotal events in the history of the state of Israel—Rudoren covers a beauty contest for Holocaust survivors or takes to Facebook to complain about how she missed her spinning class but made up for it by scaling the steps of a building in Gaza destroyed by Israeli bombing. And when Kershner covers the national campaign to expel non-Jewish Africans, she focuses the story on the liberal Israelis and their anguished souls, rather than on the Africans who are being rounded up and placed in camps for the crime of not being Jewish. Just imagine if they went out and covered what was actually happening on the ground and clinically detailed the logic and planning behind it.
Even more ironic of course is the recent need for the Washington Post to run a story from Tel Aviv by William Booth, Jerusalem bureau chief, about the killing of four young boys playing on the beach, killed by missile fire from a ship off the coast. Reporters in the sea side beach hotel witnessed the carnage and grasped its implications as destructive to the Israeli contention of controlled intervention. How could the paper not report this incident?
We could smell the charge. I wondered: Did Hamas just fire a rocket? But it was the sound of an incoming round. We saw a small fisherman’s shack on the quay, churning with gray smoke.
Then we saw a gang of kids running from the shack, down the breakwater and onto the sand, hurtling toward al-Deira. A couple of waiters, the cook and a few journalists started waving at them. Run here! Then a second strike landed right behind them.
The staff were yelling, “They’re hurt!”
A half-dozen kids made it to the hotel. A young man also reached safety and fainted. He was bleeding from the abdomen. He was scooped up and carried to a taxi by a big, friendly bear of a bellman, room cleaner and night watchman named Mahmoud Abu Zbaidah.
Israel as a state embodies the weaknesses of all states over the centuries as it contains within it the infection of its own demise. Confidence nourishes it for a time, arrogance becomes its mantra, expectation of immortality feeds its greed and its lust for on-going power, and in its glory it forgets that others witness and others suffer the bloated ferociousness of its beliefs in its own “exceptionalism,” its ordained purpose in its G-d’s anointment of His chosen. But that G-d is their invention, a G-d of war according to their own book of Exodus, designed for another century when competing tribes roamed the middle east each with its own god, and they in time defeated the G-d of war forcing His chosen to roam the earth.
And thus will history repeat itself and the arrogant will become the agonized and the defeated will become the destroyer. Unless…unless the Jewish state and the people of the 193 nations that constitute the United Nations sit together in council to agree that all signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all must abide by them. There is no God of exceptionalism; there is only a people that inhabit the earth given to them from time immemorial by the forces that enabled it to be. It alone is the means for all, born in this or a century yet to come, to live, and thrive, and endure by sharing the gifts that are the world and make possible a heaven for all.
William A. Cook’s latest book is Decade of Deceit.