FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israel’s Disproportionate Responses

Prime Minister Olmert warned Hamas a few days ago (February 1) that a renewal of the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israeli territory would evoke a “harsh and disproportionate” response from Israel. This pointed choice of words was sobering and even shocking, given the repeated appearance of the same word, “disproportionate,” in the world-wide condemnation of Israel in recent weeks, for the scale of the destruction it had just wrought in Gaza.

I can think of two examples of “harsh and disproportionate” response on the part of a nation finding itself under attack.

The first occurred at the beginning of this year, when 1300 Palestinians, confined by blockade to the crowded and desperately under-provisioned territory of Gaza, were killed in the course of massive Israeli attacks over a period of 22 days. That swift savaging of Gaza, which brought with it also the total or partial destruction of 22,000 homes and civic buildings, was in response to 8 years of nasty rocket attacks on Israel, launched intermittently and erratically from Gaza. Those rocket attacks, an inchoate protest against Israel’s decades-long Occupation and subsequent sealing up of Palestinian territory, cost 28 Israeli lives and brought apprehension and uncertainty to the lives of tens of thousands of Israeli citizens.

1300 lives in 22 days was the price paid for 28 other lives taken over a period of 8 years. Disproportionate indeed.

The other example of a “harsh and disproportionate” response that comes to mind occurred on June 10, 1942. In retaliation for the assassination by Czech resistance fighters of Reinhard Heydrich, the Nazi “Protector” of Czechoslovakia , “All the residents of Lidice, a village ten miles outside of Prague, were taken from their homes [and] shot in batches of ten at a time behind a barn. By late afternoon, 192 men and boys and 71 women had been murdered…. The SS then razed the town and tried to eradicate it from memory.”

This account of the destruction of Lidice is from a text that is kept, fittingly, in the United States Holocaust Museum, a repository of memory. It appears also, and again fittingly, in an article published by Yad Vashem, the “Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority” of Israel, another repository of memory.

From 1942 in Lidice to 2009 in Gaza, from “harsh disproportion” to “harsh disproportion,” and from the conversion of a victim-people into yet another state inflicting collective punishment on a civilian population, the history of Israel has turned upon itself strangely, in the figure of a serpent mindlessly swallowing its own tail.

Fact or imputation, this contortion of history is something that any Prime Minister of Israel should not be too busy with other affairs of state to reflect on.

Prophetically, in 1918, thirty years before the State of Israel was established, the great Jewish philosopher of the 20th century, Martin Buber, said he rejected the concept of a “Jewish state with cannons, flags, and military decorations.”

Now, ninety years after Buber wrote those words, one can wonder if he sensed that, so outfitted, some Israel of the future would develop the brawn and unseeing stare of a new Goliath, as readily and surely as any other nation has done in recorded history.

JULES RABIN is a writer, political critic, and longtime resident of Marshfield, Vermont.

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
Graham Peebles
A Global Battle of Values and Ideals
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
January 17, 2019
Stan Cox
That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal? It’s Malignant
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail