Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Article published by Gideon Levy in Haaretz (12/03/2009)
Suddenly we're all in consensus: The recent war in Gaza was a failure. The bon ton now is to list its flaws. Flip-floppers say its "achievements" were squandered; leftists say the war "should never have started" and rightists will say the war "should have lasted longer." But on this they all agree: It was a blunder.
Because we consider the war to have been almost cost-free, with just 13 Israeli dead, it will be the first in 36 years without a Commission of Inquiry formed in its wake.
Of course, the war's blunder was just as serious as its predecessors, but because we did more killing than being killed, because we caused more damage than we sustained, there's nothing deemed worthy of investigation.
It was all in vain: no progress made, no goal achieved, nothing. Deterrence wasn't reestablished, arms smuggling into Gaza was not stopped, Hamas was not weakened and abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was not freed. On these facts we all agree.
Moreover, we paid a huge price: Hamas is stronger, the hurt Palestinian people are even more hateful toward us, and Israel is viewed as a pariah in world public opinion, with rioting on a basketball court in Ankara where an Israeli team played and the banning of spectators from Israel's Davis Cup tennis encounter with Sweden in Malmo, as the last of the rogue states.
Nobody has to answer for all this, neither the politicians who launched this crazy war nor the army commanders who were their contractors. No one will be impeached, never mind tried in court. Israel's aggressive and violent war machine won't even suffer a tiny dent.
And what of the cheerleaders who sat on the sidelines of this hellish nightmare? Perhaps we should at least hold them accountable? They sat in their television studios and at their newspaper desks. Oh, how the commentators were excited and stirred excitement. They goaded and urged, pushed and applied pressure, begging for more and more war. For months they had been clamoring for their "wide-scale operation," their hearts' desire. When their wish came true they cheered in support and whistled in excitement.
Do not take their actions lightly. They could have had an immense influence over the feeble politicians and graying officers. "Strike out at them," their baritone voices echoed from one part of the country to the other. They asserted it was a just and successful war without peer. They covered the brilliant military maneuvers with gusto, iniquitously hid the horrors, presented an unrestrained offensive against a non-existent enemy as a two-sided war, described troops' unchallenged advances as real combat and a military maneuver carried out on the back of a helpless population as a success.
They appeared at their studios with their mouths still covered with foam left over from their previous successful horror show, the Second Lebanon War. The retired generals and Tarzan commentators, whose coverage of the war in Lebanon was an abominable failure, recycled the same cliches and propaganda dictates. No one considered replacing them after their previous failure. They learned nothing and forgot nothing, and the vast majority of us nodded thoughtlessly at their words, as though they came from above.
The deja vu is striking: Again, just like after the Second Lebanon War, they suddenly became the war's biggest critics, only after it already ended - a matter of timing.
Showing no remorse and much vanity, they now shamelessly admit that the war whose praises they sang has failed. Why did it fail? Because we didn't kill enough people, they explain. If we would have given it a little push and killed 200 more children or massacred 500 more women, then we would have achieved victory.
None of them are asked what would have happened had the war continued. Would Shalit have been freed? Would Hamas have waved the white flag? Would the Palestinian people have joined the Zionist movement?
Now, get ready for the next treat. They've already begun to clamor for a new war in Gaza or Lebanon, whichever comes first. When they get what they ask for they will return to their studios. In the beginning they will offer their support for the war, and then come out against it.
No one will hold them accountable for their vile acts, and there will be nothing new under the sun.
Picture: Mazen Kerbaj