Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Country, 'tis of Thee

You never bomb a school. No matter how much you are being shot at from within it. There are situations in which an army is blocked. It happens in chess, it happens at war. I'm no military expert, but there are ways to deal with being shot at from a school that has become a safe haven for civilians. You must consider it a fortress surrounded by an extra wall, one that will only be removed when all civilians are evacuated, and if they can't be evacuated, you retreat. The IDF prides itself on warning people to run away from buildings that are to be bombed, a few days ago it actually showered Gaza neighborhoods with leaflets calling for residents to evacuate, but where exactly? The Gaza strip is the most populated region on earth, it's a fenced corral. Everyone within it is trapped.

You never bomb a building that is home to families that escaped from homes you already bombed. My nation's military did it tonight, killing between 30 and 40 people and wounding scores. My tax money paid for the ammunition.

My country 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.

But what really kills me is how Israeli news media refuses to even refer to this as a tragedy; they only talk about how difficult it would be to justify this in the face of international press. We have ceased to be human. Everything boils now into "but they shoot qassams at us", the difficult living conditions in the south justify use of limitless force in the eyes of Israelis. They fail to see how the completely impossible living conditions in besieged Gaza were used to justify the use of force there. As in September 11th, the "terrorists" are "evil doers" without motives. They deserve the most brutal treatment, even when that treatment costs Israeli soldiers their lives, even when no long term, pragmatic plan is discussed, even when over 180 children are killed within a week.

We certainly gained a lot from bombing that school, we gained security for the south, no more rockets will fly there. We made good neighbors by bombing that school. We weakened Hamas. Now everybody in Gaza loves us and hates them! War makes wonderful sense. These words are written from an Israel in which racism is going through the roof and empathy has become nonexistent. Jaffa is lit in blinking blue, full of police cars waiting to arrest protesters. In the case of Jaffa protests, the participants (mostly Arab) get photographed and arrested after they return home.

Tomorrow I'm heading south to Ashdod to visit a bomb shelter and experience the anxiety there, but this war has already marked me with anxiety. Thank heavens for good friends, for Wassail and Jacques Brel. They help me go through this dark time, but if any darker times are in score, I will be singing of my country a very dark song.

17 comments:

Yaelian said...

I slmost threw up when I heard of that bombing of the school. I hate this war.

Anonymous said...

These are dark days indeed. I can only imagine what you must be dealing with as an Israeli citizen in opposition to this action and the policy that stands behind it.

I would like to share something that may shed some light on what is happening. It is from Giorgio Agamben's essay, "What is a Camp?".

"Inasmuch as its inhabitants have been stripped of every political status and reduced completely to naked life, the camp is also the most absolute biopolitical space that has ever been realized--a space in which power confronts nothing other than pure biological life without any mediation."

And he continues, "it would be more honest, and above all, more useful to investigate carefully how human beings could have been so completely deprived of their rights and prerogatives to the point that committing any act toward them would no longer appear as a crime (at this point, in fact, truly anything had become possible)."

Some might object that Gaza cannot be equated with a camp; however Agamben is referring not only to the concentration camp but to detainment camps, which have become a semi-permanent feature of modern states. The anything goes that Agamben mentions has, I fear, come to pass in Gaza. We are only witnessing the latest stage of it.

Theology Jen said...

Thank you for posting this. You are very brave.

Anonymous said...

"we have ceased to be human" says it all about Israel's current government and the people that support it.

Well done also for creating 40 more years of terrorism for yourselves for this generation of people caught in this who will understandably be radicalised.

I am off to protest outside the London's Israel embassy, and I have never protested against anything in my life (and I am neither an arab or Muslim).

I also will NEVER buy any Israeli goods or services for the rest of my life. Roll on Obama's inauguration...

Hira said...

I don't know how the world can even bear to go on with such brutality going on in its midst.

I came across your blog through the Guardian and I am relieved to see that there are Israelis like you too. Just wish there were more.

Guy Yanai said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

hi yuval.

well, you dont fire rockets from a school.
the article should have been titled: "bring hamas leaders to hague for crimes against humanity." but you can't see so far. your logic is exactly what hamas wants, 1+1. no more than that. because if you add a few things you see how war criminal scum are turning you into a yo yo. bat yeor wrote this years ago.

here are some links for you and your readers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmXXUOs27lI&eurl=http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123120586642556073.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/middleeastCrisis/idUSL05686115

you should be proud of israel now, and that your tax money went to pound the real darkness.

Anonymous said...

If anyone should be tried at the Hague for crimes against humanity it should be Bush. Washington can and should stop this despicable action. As for giving Hamas what they want that's exactly what the Israeli military and political imbeciles have done! Martyrs, disdain for Israel and guaranteed recruitment for the next generation of suicide bombers.

Anonymous said...

As a Schoolteacher I was horrified.
Facts: The Blue UN Flag was flying over the building.
Your army had been given the exact co-ordinates of these Buildings.
The UN disputes your version of events.

Quote 99.9 % certain there were no militants in the School.

Proud of yourselves ? That's 3 Schools you have blitzed.

I wish my Government would do what Venezuela has done.

Just to remind you when Britain faced frequent attack from the IRA, it didn't immediately request Bombing of West Belfast or Dublin.

You Israelis don't know the meanng of the word peace !

julio said...

you are brave , it takes a man to go against the current, and I know that there are many israelis feeling the way you do.
Others happily pull the trigger.......
Thank you for remind me and others that jews are not necessarily zionist.

Yuval said...

Thank you all for your important input. In the good tradition of Jewish debating ("hitpalpelut"), I choose to refer to a challenging comment, The one that opens with: "Well, you don't fire rockets from a school".

If Hamas did shoot from the school that is of course murderous. Nonetheless, bombing it is never justified. Imagine that Hamas had taken over an Israeli school full of Jewish refugees and were shooting from it. would you still consider bombing it a natural response?

Anonymous said...

Yuval, You know my feelings for what you are writing on this blog... I am John S, and I wrote you an email earlier today, with an attachment in it, and I sent it to the address on the blog website.

I have just read your tremendous insight now, your scenario, asking whether the IDF or whoever gives them orders "would still consider it a natural response to bomb an Israeli school full of Jewish refugees if Hamas had taken it over and were shooting from it." It takes immense self analysis, self-control and a vast respect for the Other to come up with a scenario like that.

You are a beacon in these dark times. Thank you.

Moreover, you wrote that comment in spite of the aggressiveness of that contribution by Anonymous... who I feel ought to have known better than to be so agressive, when writing in your blog, a blog that is so deeply sincere, so human and so full of anguish. I wish s/he controlled his or her harshness when writing in your blog.

I look forward to your replying to my email.

John S.

Dimi Reider said...

Just about the part where the IDF prides itself on evacuating civilians etc - it managed to kick even that pretense by bombing on Jan 4th a building soldiers filled up with refugees on Jan 3rd. Despicable and unforgivable

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