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Burning Tires

Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús | CC BY 2.0

“The terrorists! The snakes! The cockroaches! Burning tires to poison our brave men and women protecting us at the fence! And horrible, too, for the environment! But Hamas doesn’t care…”

I’ve seen all these assertions in Israeli articles and comments since the Great March of Return began, and crowds gathered weekly at the Gazan fence. “What country would put up with this?” “What would you do if someone invaded your home?”

Well, ok, what would I do if a pre-announced set of 100 snipers (not soldiers, mind you, but “snipers”) were lined up behind and atop huge berms of earth for self-protection, and their scopes and rifles were pointed my way?

If I were clever enough, I’d try to become less visible to their shoot-to-kill-or-permanently-damage intentions. Hence the tactic of holding a celebration/demonstration behind a screen of smoke – not from high tech military chemists, but from the only available source – burning old tires. Brilliant. Daring (depending on wind or windlessness), cheap, camera-worthy.

The irony of Israelis objecting to a smokescreen is really too much to bear. Israel is one huge smokescreen. I’d put a smokescreen as the central image on their flag.

Consider:

+ the whole “peace process” since Oslo, which simply disguised the creation of illegal settlements for half a million illegal settlers in the Palestinian territories.

+ the whole “Israel has the right to defend ourselves” gambit, using that excuse to slaughter, starve, and control whole populations of Palestinians with small arms at most, or handmade resistance weapons against modern high tech weaponry supplied as needed by the US. Self-defense — a smokescreen more lethal and long-lasting than the Israeli tear gas and phosphorus in the skies.

+ “they want to push us into the sea” smoke-canard. Who? How push? (no room given the Israeli nuclear submarines.) When was the last time you heard any Arab make such a statement?

+ the Israeli policy of “non-declared” nuclear weapons. Such a smokescreen allows Israel to proceed with its weapons program without inspections, or responsibility to non-proliferation treaties, destroying the possibility of a nuclear weapons-free Middle East.

+ the labeling of everyone killed by an Israeli bullet as a terrorist, or in the case of young children, as a potential terrorist or “human shield”. But who are the victims? What were they doing? Can’t see through the screen of label-smoke. “We will investigate. If necessary.”

+ interesting psychological smokescreens that go with all this: The most recent I’ve seen was the idea that killing a few at the fence was “good for the Palestinians”. Why? Because it would keep down the possibility of some getting across the fence, and establishing a “ terrorist beach head” in Israel – in which case far more slaughter would have to occur in order to wipe them out…

+ …even “mowing the lawn” – the regular massive attacks on the imprisoned Gaza population, whenever Israel feels the need for political or “defense” purposes. A huge smokescreen surrounds the whole business of having “withdrawn” from Gaza, so no longer an occupation – when in fact Israel takes sadistic pleasure in controlling export and imports, movement in and out, even for medical reasons, air space, sea space. Best to starve or cripple the next generation.

+  less lethal smokescreens are white-coated, or colored green or pink.  In 2006, Israeli foreign ministry officially launched the “Brand Israel” campaign, and with the help of US marketing executives, is currently pouring in enormous resources to “rebrand” Israel in a positive light upon the world, and at the same time to legally shut down any criticism or pro-Boycott Divestment and Sanctions activity at home and abroad, especially on US campuses.

As the smoke from burning Israeli tires continues to engorge the world, we must continue our efforts to disperse it.

Marc Estrin is a  novelist, among other pursuits. His most recent work is titled Kafka’s Roach. He lives in Vermont.

More articles by:

Marc Estrin is a novelist, cellist and publisher. His latest book is And Kings Shall be Thy Nursing Fathers. He lives in Vermont.

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