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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail