Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Letter to the General

GENERAL, YOUR TANK IS A POWERFUL VEHICLE It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men. But it has one defect: It needs a driver.

Bertolt Brecht

Dear General,

In your letter to me, you wrote that “given the ongoing war in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, and in view of the military needs,” I am called upon to “participate in army operations” in the West Bank.

I am writing to tell you that I do not intend to heed your call.

During the 1980s, Ariel Sharon erected dozens of settler colonies in the heart of the occupied territories, a strategy whose ultimate goal was the subjugation of the Palestinian people and the expropriation of their land. Today, these colonies control nearly half of the occupied territories and are strangling Palestinian cities and villages as well as obstructing — if not altogether prohibiting — the movement of their residents. Sharon is now prime minister, and in the past year he has been advancing towards the definitive stage of the initiative he began twenty years ago. Indeed, Sharon gave his order to his lackey, the Defense Minister, and from there it trickled down the chain of command.

The Chief of Staff has announced that the Palestinians constitute a cancerous threat and has commanded that chemotherapy be applied against them. The brigadier has imposed curfews without time limits, and the colonel has ordered the destruction of Palestinian fields. The division commander has placed tanks on the hills between their houses, and has not allowed ambulances to evacuate their wounded. The lieutenant colonel announced that the open-fire regulations have been amended to an indiscriminate order “fire!” The tank commander, in turn, spotted a number of people and ordered his artilleryman to launch a missile.

I am that artilleryman. I am the small screw in the perfect war machine. I am the last and smallest link in the chain of command. I am supposed to simply follow orders — to reduce my existence down to stimulus and reaction, to hear the sound of “fire” and pull the trigger, to bring the overall plan to completion. And I am supposed to do all this with the simplicity and naturalness of a robot, who — at most — feels the shaking tremor of the tank as the missile is launched towards the target.

But as Bertolt Brecht wrote: General, man is very useful. He can fly and he can kill. But he has one defect: He can think.

And indeed, general, whoever you may be– colonel, brigadier, chief of staff, defense minister, prime minister, or all of the above– I can think. Perhaps I am not capable of much more than that. I confess that I am not an especially gifted or courageous soldier; I am not the best shot, and my technical skills are minimal. I am not even very athletic, and my uniform does not sit comfortably on my body. But I am capable of thinking.

I can see where you are leading me. I understand that we will kill, destroy, get hurt and die, and that there is no end in sight. I know that the “ongoing war” of which you speak, will go on and on. I can see that if the “military needs” lead us to lay siege to, hunt down, and starve a whole people, then something about these “needs” is terribly wrong.

I am therefore forced to disobey your call. I will not pull the trigger.

I do not delude myself, of course. You will shoo me away. You will find another artilleryman — one who is more obedient and talented than I. There is no dearth of such soldiers. Your tank will continue to roll; a gadfly like me cannot stop a rolling tank, surely not a column of tanks, and definitely not the entire march of folly. But a gadfly can buzz, annoy, nudge, and at times even bite.

Eventually other artillerymen, drivers, and commanders, who will observe the senseless killings and endless cycle of violence will also begin to think and buzz. We are already hundreds strong. And at the end of the day, our buzzing will turn into a deafening roar, a roar that will echo in your ears and in those of your children. Our protest will be recorded in the history books, for all generations to see.

So general, before you shoo me away, perhaps you too should begin to think.

Sincerely,

YIGAL BRONNER

Dr. YIGAL BRONNER teaches Sanskrit at Tel-Aviv University, and will be able to respond to letters after completing his 28 day term in prison. He can be reached at yigalbronner@yahoo.com

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail