[News] The Blood-Stained Monster Enters Gaza

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Mon Jan 12 11:21:49 EST 2009


http://www.counterpunch.org/

January 12, 2009


How Many Divisions?


The Blood-Stained Monster Enters Gaza

By URI AVNERY

Nearly seventy ago, in the course of World War 
II, a heinous crime was committed in the city of 
Leningrad. For more than a thousand days, a gang 
of extremists called “the Red Army” held the 
millions of the town’s inhabitants hostage and 
provoked retaliation from the German Wehrmacht 
from inside the population centers. The Germans 
had no alternative but to bomb and shell the 
population and to impose a total blockade, which 
caused the death of hundreds of thousands.

Some time before that, a similar crime was 
committed in England. The Churchill gang hid 
among the population of London, misusing the 
millions of citizens as a human shield. The 
Germans were compelled to send their Luftwaffe 
and reluctantly reduce the city to ruins. They called it the Blitz.

This is the description that would now appear in 
the history books – if the Germans had won the war.

Absurd? No more than the daily descriptions in 
our media, which are being repeated ad nauseam: 
the Hamas terrorists use the inhabitants of Gaza 
as “hostages” and exploit the women and children 
as “human shields”, they leave us no alternative 
but to carry out massive bombardments, in which, 
to our deep sorrow, thousands of women, children 
and unarmed men are killed and injured.

* * *

IN THIS WAR, as in any modern war, propaganda 
plays a major role. The disparity between the 
forces, between the Israeli army - with its 
airplanes, gunships, drones, warships, artillery 
and tanks - and the few thousand lightly armed 
Hamas fighters, is one to a thousand, perhaps one 
to a million. In the political arena the gap 
between them is even wider. But in the propaganda 
war, the gap is almost infinite.

Almost all the Western media initially repeated 
the official Israeli propaganda line. They almost 
entirely ignored the Palestinian side of the 
story, not to mention the daily demonstrations of 
the Israeli peace camp. The rationale of the 
Israeli government (“The state must defend its 
citizens against the Qassam rockets”) has been 
accepted as the whole truth. The view from the 
other side, that the Qassams are a retaliation 
for the siege that starves the one and a half 
million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, was not mentioned at all.

Only when the horrible scenes from Gaza started 
to appear on Western TV screens, did world public 
opinion gradually begin to change.

True, Western and Israeli TV channels showed only 
a tiny fraction of the dreadful events that 
appear 24 hours every day on Aljazeera’s Arabic 
channel, but one picture of a dead baby in the 
arms of its terrified father is more powerful 
than a thousand elegantly constructed sentences 
from the Israeli army spokesman. And that is what is decisive, in the end.

War – every war – is the realm of lies. Whether 
called propaganda or psychological warfare, 
everybody accepts that it is right to lie for 
one’s country. Anyone who speaks the truth runs 
the risk of being branded a traitor.

The trouble is that propaganda is most convincing 
for the propagandist himself. And after you 
convince yourself that a lie is the truth and 
falsification reality, you can no longer make rational decisions.

An example of this process surrounds the most 
shocking atrocity of this war so far: the 
shelling of the UN Fakhura school in Jabaliya refugee camp.

Immediately after the incident became known 
throughout the world, the army “revealed” that 
Hamas fighters had been firing mortars from near 
the school entrance. As proof they released an 
aerial photo which indeed showed the school and 
the mortar. But within a short time the official 
army liar had to admit that the photo was more 
than a year old. In brief: a falsification.

Later the official liar claimed that 
“our  soldiers were shot at from inside the 
school”. Barely a day passed before the army had 
to admit to UN personnel that that was a lie, 
too. Nobody had shot from inside the school, no 
Hamas fighters were inside the school, which was full of terrified refugees.

But the admission made hardly any difference 
anymore. By that time, the Israeli public was 
completely convinced that “they shot from inside 
the school”, and TV announcers stated this as a simple fact.

So it went with the other atrocities. Every baby 
metamorphosed, in the act of dying, into a Hamas 
terrorist. Every bombed mosque instantly became a 
Hamas base, every apartment building an arms 
cache, every school a terror command post, every 
civilian government building a “symbol of Hamas 
rule”. Thus the Israeli army retained its purity 
as the “most moral army in the world”.

* * *

THE TRUTH is that the atrocities are a direct 
result of the war plan. This reflects the 
personality of Ehud Barak – a man whose way of 
thinking and actions are clear evidence of what 
is called “moral insanity”, a sociopathic disorder.

The real aim (apart from gaining seats in the 
coming elections) is to terminate the rule of 
Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In the imagination of 
the planners, Hamas is an invader which has 
gained control of a foreign country. The reality 
is, of course, entirely different.

The Hamas movement won the majority of the votes 
in the eminently democratic elections that took 
place in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the 
Gaza Strip. It won because the Palestinians had 
come to the conclusion that Fatah’s peaceful 
approach had gained precisely nothing from Israel 
- neither a freeze of the settlements, nor 
release of the prisoners, nor any significant 
steps toward ending the occupation and creating 
the Palestinian state. Hamas is deeply rooted in 
the population – not only as a resistance 
movement fighting the foreign occupier, like the 
Irgun and the Stern Group in the past – but also 
as a political and religious body that provides 
social, educational and medical services.

 From the point of view of the population, the 
Hamas fighters are not a foreign body, but the 
sons of every family in the Strip and the other 
Palestinian regions. They do not “hide behind the 
population”, the population views them as their only defenders.

Therefore, the whole operation is based on 
erroneous assumptions. Turning life into living 
hell does not cause the population to rise up 
against Hamas, but on the contrary, it unites 
behind Hamas and reinforces its determination not 
to surrender. The population of Leningrad did not 
rise up against Stalin, any more than the Londoners rose up against Churchill.

He who gives the order for such a war with such 
methods in a densely populated area knows that it 
will cause dreadful slaughter of civilians. 
Apparently that did not touch him. Or he believed 
that “they will change their ways” and “it will 
sear their consciousness”, so that in future they 
will not dare to resist Israel.

A top priority for the planners was the need to 
minimize casualties among the soldiers, knowing 
that the mood of a large part of the pro-war 
public would change if reports of such casualties 
came in. That is what happened in Lebanon Wars I and II.

This consideration played an especially important 
role because the entire war is a part of the 
election campaign. Ehud Barak, who gained in the 
polls in the first days of the war, knew that his 
ratings would collapse if pictures of dead soldiers filled the TV screens.

Therefore, a new doctrine was applied: to avoid 
losses among our soldiers by the total 
destruction of everything in their path. The 
planners were not only ready to kill 80 
Palestinians to save one Israeli soldier, as has 
happened, but also 800. The avoidance of 
casualties on our side is the overriding 
commandment, which is causing record numbers of 
civilian casualties on the other side.

That means the conscious choice of an especially 
cruel kind of warfare – and that has been its Achilles heel.

A person without imagination, like Barak (his 
election slogan: “Not a Nice Guy, but a Leader”) 
cannot imagine how decent people around the world 
react to actions like the killing of whole 
extended families, the destruction of houses over 
the heads of their inhabitants, the rows of boys 
and girls in white shrouds ready for burial, the 
reports about people bleeding to death over days 
because ambulances are not allowed to reach them, 
the killing of doctors and medics on their way to 
save lives, the killing of UN drivers bringing in 
food. The pictures of the hospitals, with the 
dead, the dying and the injured lying together on 
the floor for lack of space, have shocked the 
world. No argument has any force next to an image 
of a wounded little girl lying on the floor, 
twisting with pain and crying out: “Mama! Mama!”

The planners thought that they could stop the 
world from seeing these images by forcibly 
preventing press coverage. The Israeli 
journalists, to their shame, agreed to be 
satisfied with the reports and photos provided by 
the Army Spokesman, as if they were authentic 
news, while they themselves remained miles away 
from the events. Foreign journalists were not 
allowed in either, until they protested and were 
taken for quick tours in selected and supervised 
groups. But in a modern war, such a sterile 
manufactured view cannot completely exclude all 
others – the cameras are inside the strip, in the 
middle of the hell, and cannot be controlled. 
Aljazeera broadcasts the pictures around the clock and reaches every home.

* * *

THE BATTLE for the TV screen is one of the decisive battles of the war.

Hundreds of millions of Arabs from Mauritania to 
Iraq, more than a billion Muslims from Nigeria to 
Indonesia see the pictures and are horrified. 
This has a strong impact on the war. Many of the 
viewers see the rulers of Egypt, Jordan and the 
Palestinian Authority as collaborators with 
Israel in carrying out these atrocities against their Palestinian brothers.

The security services of the Arab regimes are 
registering a dangerous ferment among the 
peoples. Hosny Mubarak, the most exposed Arab 
leader because of his closing of the Rafah 
crossing in the face of terrified refugees, 
started to pressure the decision-makers in 
Washington, who until that time had blocked all 
calls for a cease-fire. These began to understand 
the menace to vital American interests in the 
Arab world and suddenly changed their attitude – 
causing consternation among the complacent Israeli diplomats.

People with moral insanity cannot really 
understand the motives of normal people and must 
guess their reactions. “How many divisions has 
the Pope?” Stalin sneered. “How many divisions 
have people of conscience?” Ehud Barak may well be asking.

As it turns out, they do have some. Not numerous. 
Not very quick to react. Not very strong and 
organized. But at a certain moment, when the 
atrocities overflow and masses of protesters come 
together, that can decide a war.



THE FAILURE to grasp the nature of Hamas has 
caused a failure to grasp the predictable 
results. Not only is Israel unable to win the war, Hamas cannot lose it.

Even if the Israeli army were to succeed in 
killing every Hamas fighter to the last man, even 
then Hamas would win. The Hamas fighters would be 
seen as the paragons of the Arab nation, the 
heroes of the Palestinian people, models for 
emulation by every youngster in the Arab world. 
The West Bank would fall into the hands of Hamas 
like a ripe fruit, Fatah would drown in a sea of 
contempt, the Arab regimes would be threatened with collapse.

If the war ends with Hamas still standing, 
bloodied but unvanquished, in face of the mighty 
Israeli military machine, it will look like a 
fantastic victory, a victory of mind over matter.

What will be seared into the consciousness of the 
world will be the image of Israel as a 
blood-stained monster, ready at any moment to 
commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by 
any moral restraints. This will have severe 
consequences for our long-term future, our 
standing in the world, our chance of achieving peace and quiet.

In the end, this war is a crime against ourselves 
too, a crime against the State of Israel.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace 
activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to 
CounterPunch's book 
<http://www.easycartsecure.com/CounterPunch/CounterPunch_Books.html>The 
Politics of Anti-Semitism.




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