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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

July 20, 2017
Sebastian Friedrich – Gabriel Kuhn
A New Class Politics
Patrick Cockburn
The Massacre of Mosul: More Than 40,000 Civilians Feared Dead
Paul Street
The Abandonment: Reflections on James Foreman’s “Locking Up Our Own”
Kim Codella
A Practical Education
Frank Scott
America’s Trump, Not Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Clancy Sigal Goes Away
Don Monkerud
The Real Treason in DC: Turning Our Lives Over to Corporate
Brian Dew – Dean Baker
Are Amazon’s Shareholders Suckers?
Ralph Nader
Detecting What Unravels Our Society – Bottom-up and Top-down
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Covering Islam, Post-Jack Shaheen
Binoy Kampmark
Uhlmann’s Trump Problem
Patrick Walker
In Defense of Caitlin Johnstone
Barry Lando
Those Secret Putin-Trump Talks
Sean Marquis
Thank You, Donald Trump
July 19, 2017
Adam Ziemkowski and Rebekah Liebermann
How Seattle Voted to Tax the Rich
Patrick Cockburn
Why ISIS Fighters are Being Thrown Off Buildings in Mosul
John W. Whitehead
Zombies R Us: the Walking Dead of the American Police State
Mateo Pimentel
Net Neutrality’s Missing Persons
Adil E. Shamoo - Bonnie Bricker
Yemen Policy is Creating More Terrorists
L. Ali Khan
U.S. Misreads Pakistan’s Antifragility
David Macaray
Fear and Trembling in the Workplace
Brian Trautman, Gerry Condon and Samantha Ferguson
Veterans Call on U.S. to Sign Nuclear Ban Treaty
Binoy Kampmark
Militarising Civilian Life: Australia, Policing and Terrorism
Ricardo Vaz
Venezuelan Opposition “Consultation”: Playing Alone and Losing
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Cold-Hearted Agenda is Immoral
Raul Castro
We will Continue to Advance Along the Path Freely Chosen by Our People
July 18, 2017
James Bovard
Obama’s AWOL Anti-War Protesters
Gary Leupp
CNN: “Russia is an Adversary, Ukraine is Not.”
Ryan Shah
Beware the Radical Center
John Carroll Md
Cold Hands Don’t Need Narcotics
Derrick Jensen
Endangered Species Don’t Need an Ark – They Need a Living Planet!
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Canadian Conjucture
Arturo Lopez-Levy
Trump’s Cuba Restrictions: a Detour, Not the Future
Russell Mokhiber
State Street Bentley University Business Ethics and Corporate Crime
Laura Finley
Being Too Much
Robert J. Gould
What is Our Experience of our Flawed Democracy?
Taju Tijani
The Burden of Indivisible Nigeria
Guillaume Pitron
China Now Leads in Renewables
Ted Rall
How I Learned Courts are Off-Limits to the 99 Percent
Binoy Kampmark
Militarising Civilian Life: Australia, Policing and Terrorism
July 17, 2017
Gregory Wilpert
Time for the “International Left” to Take a Stand on Venezuela
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Embrace of the Saudi Crown Prince, and a Qatar Nightmare Scenario
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Liu Xiaobo: the West’s Model Chinese
Terry Simons
Why I Did Not Go to Vietnam
Jim Green
Nuclear Power’s Annus Horribilus
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail