One single, solitary thing will be noted to Ehud Barak’s credit: in contrast to many others, he did not dub the bullying rage of the Israeli army in Gaza as a “war”, but made due with the term “operation”.
War is a concept that immediately results in the orgasm of numerous Israelis, particularly journalists. We are stuffed to the point of vomiting from the voices, trembling from unrestrained satisfaction, of broadcasters and field reporters of Israeli channels 2 and 10 as they describe how “our forces have just now entered…” and “the air force successfully completed its mission, and our planes returned safely to their bases(!)” and “in an heroic battle above the skies of Gaza, our planes skillfully dodged the Palestinian anti-aircraft defence and our air force defeated the Palestinian air force, excuse me, the Hamas air force! Just like the RAF in the skies of London in 1940! There is also nothing to brag about in the ground operation: thousands of soldiers and hundreds of tanks succeeded in breaking through enemy lines in the city of Gaza! And to the generals and regiment commanders who are preening like peacocks and bragging about their success, I want to say one thing: if for you Gaza is a test of success in war, then what will happen in a real war, one in front of another, tank in front of tank, regiment in front of regiment? You are practicing on women and children and think that this way you will know how to fight against a true army?
I remember that during the Intifada we used to ridicule soldiers who bullied children, and we said to them that in a real battle, against real soldiers, they will not know what to do as they practiced on defenceless civilians. And indeed, the second Lebanon war came and they were defeated – and not by a professional army but a militia of several thousand brave fighters, substantially inferior in regards to equipment and means of combat.
Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak are bragging about “achieving all the goals of the operation”. Really? Rockets continue to fall on Israel’s southern cities and the shooting can begin again the minute Hamas concludes that the ceasefire is working against it. The smuggling of arms into Gaza continues and will continue, and no amount of American experts will be of help. Hamas is weakened? The organization did suffer harsh losses, particularly of officers who acted, to the surprise of the commentators-experts, in “another” way, but its popularity grew. Not only in the Gaza Strip, but also in the West Bank, the Arab world and the world in general. Moreover, Hamas essentially became, through the negotiations over a ceasefire, a dialogue partner of Israel, and even the United States is no longer concealing that it is conducting ongoing contacts with the organization!
“To etch in the consciousness” is the goal of every colonial operation and this time also, as in Operation Defensive Shield, the Israeli strategists wanted to etch in the Palestinian consciousness. According to reports this goal was also not achieved, as the Gazans refuse to bow their heads even when thousands of tonnes of cast lead, with an addition of white phosphorous, falls on them.
And another goal: to bring Abu Mazen back to Gaza. They should try! And if the Israeli leaders are cynical, and behind the words of affection and love for Mahmoud Abbas there lurked a hidden intention to get him out of the way, they would not have acted differently. However, they are not cynical (in this context) and they believed, with typical colonial arrogance, that the operation would return the rule of the beloved chairperson over the Gaza Strip. Another failure: apart from Ramallah, there is doubt that after his collaboration with those who slaughtered members of his people in Gaza, Abu Mazen could walk through any Palestinian city without hundreds of police trained by General Dayton: Operation Cast Lead removed the crumbs of popular legitimacy that he still had. By the way, according to the Palestinian constitution, the temporary chairperson, until the elections, is the deputy chairperson of the legislative council, who is a Hamas member. Abu Mazen has no legitimacy apart from that given by the occupation government and the global colonial powers. With great trepidation and following long deliberations I write “collaboration”, but there comes a time when it must be called for what it is.
Mahmoud Abbas finished his career, Hamas strengthened its popularity amongst its people: what a success! If we add the image of Israel in the eyes of the world as a bully state in which, as the Foreign Minister admitted, “the landlord went crazy”, the hatred in every home in the Arab world, from Iraq to Morocco, what can Israeli leaders mark to their credit? Not even an electoral achievement, as in a discourse that is all brutality and bullying, Liberman and Netanyahu are those who will take all. A real success.