by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
Why are Israelis so indignant
at the international outrage that has greeted their country’s lethal
attack last week on a flotilla of civilian ships taking aid to Gaza?
Israelis have not responded in
any of the ways we might have expected. There has been little
soul-searching about the morality, let alone legality, of soldiers
invading ships in international waters and killing civilians. In the
main, Israelis have not been interested in asking tough questions of
their political and military leaders about why the incident was handled
so badly. And only a few commentators appear concerned about the
Instead, Israelis are engaged in
a Kafkaesque conversation in which the military attack on the civilian
ships is characterised as a legitimate “act of self-defence”, as Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it, and the killing of nine aid
activists is transformed into an attempted “lynching of our soldiers” by
Benny Begin, a government
minister whose famous father, Menachem, became an Israeli prime minister
after being what today would be called a terrorist as the leader of the
notorious Irgun militia, told BBC World TV that the commandos had been
viciously assaulted after “arriving almost barefoot”. Ynet, Israel’s
most popular news website, meanwhile, reported that the commandos had
This strange discourse can only
be deciphered if we understand the two apparently contradictory themes
that have come to dominate the emotional landscape of Israel. The first
is a trenchant belief that Israel exists to realise Jewish power; the
second is an equally strong sense that Israel embodies the Jewish
people’s collective experience as the eternal victims of history.
Israelis are not entirely
unaware of this paradoxical state of mind, sometimes referring to it as
the “shooting and crying” syndrome.
It is the reason, for example,
that most believe their army is the “most moral in the world”. The
“soldier as victim” has been given dramatic form in Gilad Shalit, the
“innocent” soldier held by Hamas for the past four years who, when he
was captured, was enforcing Israel’s illegal occupation of Gaza.
One commentator in Israel’s
Haaretz newspaper summed up the feelings of Israelis brought to the fore
by the flotilla episode as the “helplessness of a poor lonely victim,
confronting the rage of a lynch mob and frantically realising that these
are his last moments”. This “psychosis”, as he called it, is not
surprising: it derives from the sanctified place of the Holocaust in the
Israeli education system.
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
The Holocaust’s lesson for most
Israelis is not a universal one that might inspire them to oppose
racism, or fanatical dictators or the bullying herd mentality that can
all too quickly grip nations, or even state-sponsored genocide.
Instead, Israelis have been
taught to see in the Holocaust a different message: that the world is
plagued by a unique and ineradicable hatred of Jews, and that the only
safety for the Jewish people is to be found in the creation of a
super-power Jewish state that answers to no one. Put bluntly, Israel’s
motto is: only Jewish power can prevent Jewish victimhood.
That is why Israel acquired a
nuclear weapon as fast it could, and why it is now marshalling every
effort to stop any other state in the region from breaking its nuclear
monopoly. It is also why the Israeli programme’s sole whistle-blower,
Mordechai Vanunu, is a pariah 24 years after committing his “offence”.
Six years on from his release to a form of loose house arrest, his
hounding by the authorities -- he was jailed again last month for
talking to foreigners -- has attracted absolutely no interest or
sympathy in Israel.
If Mr Vanunu’s continuing abuse
highlights Israel’s oppressive desire for Jewish power, Israelis’
self-righteousness about their navy’s attack on the Gaza flotilla
reveals the flipside of this pyschosis.
The angry demonstrations
sweeping the country against the world’s denunciations; the calls to
revoke the citizenship of the Israeli Arab MP on board -- or worse, to
execute her -- for treason; and the local media’s endless recycling of
the soldiers’ testimonies of being “bullied” by the activists
demonstrate the desperate need of Israelis to justify every injustice or
atrocity while clinging to the illusion of victimhood.
The lessons imbibed from this
episode -- like the lessons Israelis learnt from the Goldstone report
last year into the war crimes committed during Israel’s attack on Gaza,
or the international criticisms of the massive firepower unleashed on
Lebanon before that -- are the same: that the world hates us, and that
we are alone.
If the confrontation with the
activists on the flotilla has proved to Israelis that the unarmed
passengers were really terrorists, the world’s refusal to stay quiet has
confirmed what Israelis already knew: that, deep down, non-Jews are all
Meanwhile, the lesson the rest
of us need to draw from the deadly commando raid is that the world can
no longer afford to indulge these delusions.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and
journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and
the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle
East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments
in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.