By Ishai Rozen-Tsvi
April 4th, 2002
We are at war again.
What is this war intended for? Preventing Terrorism? This isn't even an unfunny joke. It is that clear, it is even embarrassing to repeat - that this kind of "operations" is the ultimate laboratory for the creation of terrorism. The occupation of towns and villages, the breaking and entry and vandalizing of homes, the cutting-off, the humiliation, the suppression, the killing, are the fastest and most effective factories of terrorism. The facts are simple and cry to high heaven; several years back, less than 20% of the Palestinians supported suicide bombings. Today, it is hard to find someone among them who will denounce this phenomenon. The current policy of the IDF in the occupied territories is a great "hothouse" for terror. Nobody believes that more occupation, more killing, destroying and humiliation will help to decimate it.
Therefore, what is the invasion of the territories for? First of all, it was meant to satisfy public opinion. Terror breeds a feeling of humiliation and impotence. This translates into rage, hatred and vengeance. "We must do something. We will show them who is the landlord here. The great IDF will show them indeed".This is a rationality of vengeance in all its nakedness. But the IDF can show nothing. It can spread destruction and loss, but it can never win. In an era of such a total "lights-out", we must repeat the simple facts. You can defeat and army, but how do you defeat a people? How do you get a people to accept being oppressed and without any rights? In every invasion into a village the IDF hits three terrorists and creates a hundred more. This is a reasoning leading to genocide. No, we are not there yet, but we can draw the course. Turning all the Palestinians into terrorists is a stage in the process. The more people we hit, more people join the circle of violence, then there is a need to hit more and more of them. This is the dynamics.
But looking for the answer in "public opinion" is too simple a solution. It is the politicians, with the generous assistance of the media, who create public opinion and direct it. In order to understand this war, we should go back to treading in small politics. Sharon is wielding war, not just because this is the only thing he knows how to do, but because this is the only way left open for him. The alternative is to start applying the Tenet and Mitchell reports, which means freezing the settlements. The day Sharon freezes one settlement, he will go down. Binyamin Netanyahu is waiting for this moment. Let there be no illusions, if Sharon only wanted, he had thousands of opportunities for immediate appliance of these reports, and the beginning of the dynamics of negotiations. But this is the horror script for him. What he needs now is unity, and unity means war.
In order to get unity behind such a stupid and crazy war, a well-oiled and sophisticated system, for manipulation of public opinion, is required. There, friends, this is where Sharon's genius is revealed, but nonetheless the folly of the society - with its media people and its "intellectuals" (the ones who keep quiet when we are all being lead into one of the greatest dangers in the history of Zionism, but scream and spill endless words on one silly expression of a respectable author). Emergency drafts, Announcements to the nation, urgent cabinet meetings, all these are meant to stage a background d?cor of war, because at times of war, as is well known, there is no place for questions.
This is the whole business of the siege on Arafat, as well. No one believes it can benefit the fight with terror in anything. On the contrary, even the most loyal generals understand that Arafat will not raise a White Flag, and that even if he would join the most extreme right wing Jewish party, he will not be able to stop the angry Palestinian street. They also understand that this kind of humiliation and debasement of their leader breeds a terrible rage in the Palestinian public and endless multiplications of the feelings of impotence and vengeance. Nevertheless, focusing on Arafat is a great media spin, magically redirecting the focus of attention from the occupation and its outcome, to the personality of the "Head". The "honor games" with Arafat are all intended to make the public forget the thousands and thousands of people, whom endless oppression and desperation lead to the most cruel and suicidal revenge actions, and to portray the resulting terrorism as if executed by a "push of a button" from the upstairs.
But, in order for us to buy such a childish vision, it is imperative to make sure we do not see the pictures, we do not know what is really going on, will not see how an occupation expresses itself de-facto. That we will not see how a "surgical" war is seen in the eyes of a child from Ramallah, whose brothers aged fourteen and up, after months of total siege and hunger, were gathered in the market square and taken away, while in the meantime, the walls of his house were demolished in order to enable soldiers pass through them. These are the photos of yesterday, of the previous invasion into the Palestinian towns, which now looks like a child's play. Today, it is no longer this, but much more terrible things, which are still being hidden from us.
The big newspapers seem eager to take the bait. The war supplements had already been out on the weekend, with description of daring fights and large sized color photographs. The radio had switched from memorial day songs, typical to days of terror, to songs of war and warriors' brotherhood. Oh, War, War! The color comes back to our faces, our backs straighten, and the song goes out on the road again. But we will not stop asking questions, jamming sticks into the wheels of this damn war.
The impressive unity behind such a foolish and hopeless operation can only be explained with the alternative, which is to admit that there is only one solution, ending the occupation and returning to a sane state with borders. The collective swallowing of the gibbering of the Head of the General Staff about a strong position that will crush the terrorism is the last barricade in the face of the recognition that any colonial war is doomed to fail, and that occupation breeds terrorism. This is a damn equation, but it is true all over the world, as well as in Israel. The problem is not with the spirit of the nation, or with unity. No morality can support such an oppression regime for long. We will run away with our tail between our legs, not because we were short of strong standing, or Jewish pride, but because this is the doom of any and all occupations. Anybody who shouts this from the rooftops is not "hurting the spirit of the people" but is doing a great patriotic service. We have been to this movie already, from South Africa to Algiers. There has always been terror, terrible and awful terror. There have always been generals with authoritative bass voice, promising to overpower it with blood and fire, and always, in the end, the occupation loses. It cannot be otherwise. This is the way it is going to happen here too. The only question is how many thousands of people will have to die by than. So simple, so terrible.
This is going to be worse and worse. Write it down. We are going to miss these terrible days. The Palestinians will not stop the terror. They have no reason to do so. Don't tell me about brainwash. This is not enough, and it always existed. A whole public which is going to suicide does it because it reached such depth of despair it has nothing to lose, and the Palestinians today have nothing to lose. What awaits them on the day after the "cease fire" and the commitment to end the terror? What does Sharon promise them? The same damn stew of occupation and oppression, wrapped in all kinds of sophisticated words. Only one who doesn't see on the other side people like himself, who want and are entitle for full freedom and liberty like he has - no quarter and no third - can think it has any chance.
But no, it doesn't end with this, since war has its own dynamics, and it is difficult to say where it would lead. Over the years (in a fascinating process requiring a separate study) the Palestinian public had come to accept the existence of Israel - much more than the Jewish public had recognized the Palestinians - and wishes to establish a state beyond the 67 borders. But Sharon's hate and destruction operation, the one erasing all differences, may erase this as well, and bring on a total struggle. Everyone who hasn't lost his memory entirely smells the "Lebanonization" process of the occupied territories, which end nobody can fathom. This means that whoever is participating in this war, not only doesn't defend the homeland, not only takes part in a needless and forbidden killing, he is an active part in the real threat to the existence of Israel.
In the past year and a half, Sharon's administration had managed to reach unprecedented "achievements" in the history of the conflict.
But this is just the beginning. It doesn't end with the Palestinian public. A similar move is developing in regards to all the Arab states. Just a few weeks ago, The Arab league (in the absence of the more moderate stares - Egypt and Jordan) had issued an historically unprecedented decision - it reached its hand in peace for Israel, offering normalization in exchange for the end of the occupation. The government of Israel (assisted by the Israeli media, to whom we will later remind these dark days) succeeded, with great talent, that doesn't fall short of the aforementioned "achievements", to dissolve this initiative entirely, and make it disappear. It is interesting that the same people who always listened carefully to the decisions of the Arab league, and knew to quote - word to word - the decisions negating all negotiations with Israel (These people still remind us of the conference in Khartoum in 1970!), suddenly forgot entirely the importance of the Arab league when it reaches a hand in peace. Suddenly, this decision is fiction. Indeed, here as well, the alchemy of Sharon's government works wonders, managing in making everything into a uniform production line of hatred and vengeance. There, Egypt announced the suspension of its relations with Israel. Indeed, we made it. The entire world is against us again. Exactly what was to prove.
Finally, it is impossible without "but Barak had agreed to give them everything"? Once I used to think the fail in this sentence was in the word "Everything". How much did Barak really offered? What did the negotiation failed for? Who was more stubborn, and whose fault it is the talks disintegrated. Today I believe the failure is much deeper. It is in the words "agreed to give". Barak in his noble generosity had agreed to far reaching giveaways. Sharon gives away less, Ben-Eliezer more, Peres even more than this. But everybody are "giving away". Everybody conceived the agreement as an experiment, trying to get some peace and quiet by "giving away", "going towards" "granting" etc. Some are willing to give more, some less, but the picture of the conflict is identical. The master gives something to his slave in order to get silence. The crucial difference in today's politics is note between those who are willing to give more or less, but between those who speak the masterful language of granting and giving to the bothersome natives, and those who speak the language of the end of the occupation. The fault line is between those who can see the other side and empathize with its suffering and those who don't. Do not disillusion yourselves, the un-willingness to see the other side ("Don't tell me now about the suffering of the Palestinians, with all this terror around") is what had brought upon us the total inability to understand the machinery of terror and its motives. A war on terror is not possible without the understanding of the places it is born at. Even in this aspect, the understanding of the terrible injustice we inflicted and are still inflicting on the Palestinians every hour of the day is not a luxury these days, but a necessity. Today it is possible to say clearly that the other way will lead only to destruction killing and annihilation.
Don't talk about peace. Netanyahu talks about peace also. Talk about the end of the occupation.