How ironic that, around the same time President Barrack Obama authorises American airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq to prevent ‘genocide’ of Christians and Yazidis, senior and influential figures in Israel are reported to be advocating ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, if not outright genocide…?
Ostensibly this looks as though the US will take decisive action to protect minorities in northern Iraq but will ignore butchery of the Palestinians.
On 4 August Moshe Feiglin, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party, was reported by some media – eg: the Daily Mail’s Jill Reilly – to have posted on Facebook a detailed plan for the “conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, and annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters”. The survivors from “maximum fire power” would be put in what are effectively concentration camps, prior to being shipped out of the remains of Gaza to “relevant emigration destinations”.
In other words, ethnic cleansing.
An influential rabbi, Levi Brackman, has used the Torah to justify such a course: “Some 3,500 years ago, as our ancestors, the ancient Israelites, prepared to enter into the Land of Israel, Moses warns: ‘If you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those of whom you leave will become pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides and they will harass you on the land upon which you dwell.’ (Numbers 33:55)”
As if that were not concerning enough, Knesset member Ayelet Shaked, the protege of Naftali Bennett, potential future prime minister, has posted what commentators such as The Electronic Infitada’s Ali Abunimah have taken as a call for genocide of the Palestinians: “They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
Such comments – and they are just some of the more high profile ones – combined with the relentless images of dead and mutilated Gazans crowding internet forums and the TV news bulletins are going to make it harder and harder for Israel’s ‘only real friend’, the United States, to carry on turning a blind eye to what Israel does to the Palestinians.
When even Hassidic Jews are seen protesting on New York streets against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, it’s an indication that the tide may turn and it may become less expedient for American presidents to support Israel, regardless.
Hamas are the winners!
In the original Israeli Stupidity in Gaza! , I wrote: “Ostensibly it’s Jews having a field day killing Arabs. That’s how it comes across on thousands of TV channels and internet news sites right around the world. Just imagine what the radical imams are ranting in the mosques!”
It still looks like that – especially when Israelis are shown sitting on picnic chairs on the hillside observing the destruction of Gaza as though it’s a sporting event.
The problem, as I wrote over 5 years ago, is how it is perceived around the world. As reported by The Guardian’s Jon Henley, anti-Semitism and attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions are estimated to be at their highest in Europe since the end of World War II. There is usually an increase in anti-Semitic incidents each time the Israeli-Palestinian conflict flares up, Henley writes, but the current Israeli onslaught in Gaza seems to have brought incidents to a new high right across Europe.
Far from enhancing the security of Jews around the world, the Israeli stupidity in Gaza is making things worse for Jewry.
1-0 to Hamas.
Of course, what the Israeli establishment seems to miss time and time again is that Hamas, by default, have better PR. As I wrote 5 years ago: “They’re the plucky little guys with peashooters taking on jets and tanks in the name of Allah. And, when they’re killed, why, they’re brave warriors for Allah, guaranteed a place in heaven.”
The idea voiced by Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev that blasting Hamas will strengthen Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah is ludicrous. Regev is either being disingenuous or he hasn’t the slightest idea how the PURPLE vMEME works. The Gaza survivors will not blame Hamas for the slaughter. They will blame the Israelis and those like Abbas who seek some kind of accommodation with them.
Hamas will carefully curate all the audio and video of the carnage and use it to inculcate young Gazans, their children and their children’s children, etc, etc, as to how evil and merciless the Jews are and how they are not fit to live, thus legitimising Hamas’ stated intention of destroying the State of Israel.
As for Abbas, he will be vilified as a collaborator on the same level as the Vichy French who worked with the Nazis.
2-0 to Hamas.
Since the start of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, the Palestinian cause has been rather sidelined by the tumultuous events elsewhere in the Arab world. Along the way, Hamas have managed to offend Iran, Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad’s government by backing the Syrian rebels while their affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood has earned the displeasure of Egypt’s (renewed) military rulers.
And, of course, the ongoing East/West crisis in Ukraine seems to have taken the world’s attention from everything else, if only for a few weeks.
So it’s a major victory for Hamas to have Gaza back on the front pages and Muslims around the world outraged by Israeli slaughter of Palestinian civilians and crying out for vengeance.
3-0 to Hamas.
It’s important for Hamas to milk every last drop of Palestinian blood for their cause.
Every time it seems like a ceasefire might hold or there might be the possibility of more substantive talks emerging, Hamas shoot off a few of their rockets. Just like they did yesterday morning. The rockets, as usual are destroyed by the Israeli Iron Dome defence system or turn out to be duds, anyway. As usual the Israelis stupidly bombard Gaza and dozens of Gazans die or are maimed as their streets are turned into rubble.
Just when they risked being dropped from the front pages, the Palestinians’ plight and the Hamas cause are back in the headlines.
4-0 to Hamas.
The Israelis can continue pounding Gaza all they want. Every dead Palestinian child is another victory for Hamas. Every threat of ethnic cleansing or even genocide makes the Hamas victory even sweeter. And just let the concentration camps actually get set up…!
If it could only be quantified, for the past couple of months…
- …how many more young Muslims are joining jihadist organisations with an explicitly anti-Jewish agenda
- …how much Jewish-owned businesses have lost through consumer boycotts in Europe and, to some extent, the United States
- …how many unreported attacks on synagogues and other Jewish institutions have taken place
- …how many unreported verbal as well as physical attacks on Jewish individuals have taken place
- …how many undocumented conversations are taking place in European capitals amongst leaders relieved that they are not overtly tied to Israel
- …how many undocumented conversations there have been in the White House and amongst Congressional leaders about how increasingly difficult it is to be seen to be giving Israel carte blanche with regard to the Palestinians
…then the Israelis might realise just how badly they have lost the war with Hamas.
Hamas are driven by a vMEME harmonic of RED and BLUE that makes them callous zealots.
Nothing matters to them but THE CAUSE.
Dead and maimed Palestinians – civilians who, for the most part, just wanted to be able to live and have some kind of future for their children – are just gruesome evidence of Israeli aggression. Those people in themselves have little or no value to Hamas
There is, of course, a nasty racist sub-text to the Hamas cause, fed by the PURPLE vMEME which accentuates the differences between the Israelis and the Palestinians and uses a harmonic with Islamic BLUE to denigrate the Jews as those who have gone astray from God – eg: Surah 4:46. They want the State of Israeli destroyed and every Jew is a legitimate target. Jews outside Israel are often seen as legitimate targets too – part of the problem of having a race, a religion and a national state so closely tied together.
Dead Palestinians in Gaza can happily be compensated for by Jewish tourists killed in Paris or synagogues burned down or bombed in London and Berlin. Even greater compensation is gained by nations around the world turning against Israel. The London Evening Standard’s Joseph Watts reporting Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s announcement that the Coalition Government will be placing certain restrictions on arms sales to Israel will be celebrated loudly by Hamas.
How much longer the US can really continue maintain its ‘blind eye stance’ is going to be increasingly a moot point, especially if more talk of ethnic cleansing emerges.
Israel and the ‘victim identity’
If the current Gaza conflict has been a PR disaster for Israel in the eyes of the world, as The Independent on Sunday’s Patrick Cockburn (2014b) asked last weekend: what has it done for Israelis?
Cockburn asserts that Israeli military victories over Hamas are essentially meaningless because “deliberate threat inflation by the Israeli government redounds to the advantage of Hamas.” He gives the example of Netanyahu talking about “the ‘tunnels of terror’ as if they undermined every home in Israel. A story spread on the internet claims that thousands of Hamas fighters dressed in Israeli army uniforms had been planning to surge through the tunnels into Israel in a sort of underground D-Day landing….Every opponent of Israel, however puny, is treated by Israeli governments and much of the Israeli media as representing an existential threat.”
This is a stunning example of memes spreading as a psychological/cultural virus.
In one sense, it’s astonishing that an advanced neo-Western state like Israel, dominated by ORANGE in its technology and commerce, is so dominated by childlike gothic nightmares, the stuff of PURPLE’s fantastic fears. Yet, as Cockburn expounds, Israelis en masse “are indoctrinated from the age of three in the spirit of Jewish victimhood and superiority”.
Cockburn may well have been influenced in his conclusions by Gideon Levy, an Israeli author who told The Independent’s Johann Hari (2010): “There’s a whole machinery of brainwashing in Israel which really accompanies each of us from early childhood, and I’m a product of this machinery as much as anyone else. [We are taught] a few narratives that it’s very hard to break. That we Israelis are the ultimate and only victims. That the Palestinians are born to kill, and their hatred is irrational. That the Palestinians are not human beings like us… So you get a society without any moral doubts, without any questions marks, with hardly public debate.”
Levy implies the Israeli state socialises its citizens into being victims and needing to demonstrate their superiority to the hated Palestinians – an example of classic ruling class socialisation of the rest as defined by Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels (1848).
This confluence of race, religion and national state in the Jewish State of Israel is arguably unique in the world – but the underpinning belief that the Jews are the favoured people of God has produced its own form of racial superiority. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a former chief rabbi of Israel and spiritual leader of many Middle Eastern Jews, was reported by blogger Richard Silverstein in 2010 to have said: “The Goyim [non-Jews] were only created to serve us. If that wasn’t the case they would have no place in the world… Jews earn eternal life in the days of the messiah. Goyim don’t. Like all people, they must die. But they earn long life. Why? Think about someone’s donkey. If it dies, he loses it, the money. The same with a servant. You also lose money [when he dies]. That’s why Goyim are given long life so they may work well for the Jews…. Why do Goyim exist? So that they work [for Jews]. They thresh, they plant, they harvest, while we [Jews] sit like effendi and eat [our fill]. That’s why Goyim were created.”
In Yosef’s statement, we see a PURPLE discrimination of ‘others’ (non-Jews) as being not-of-our-tribe and fit only to be used by Jews.
Unsurprisingly then, when the non-Jews become troublesome, Josef reveals a RED/BLUE zealotry every bit as vicious as that of Hamas: “God should strike them with a plague…these Palestinians…evil, bitter enemies of Israel….It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.” (Haaretz Service, 2010)
In Josef’s statement, we can see the philosophical and religious roots of Ayelet Shaked’s seeming call to genocide.
Since at least the time of the ‘Great Revolt (66–73 CE) and the resultant diaspora, Jews have often tended to have a ‘victim identity’ – all too often suffering racial discrimination, sometimes in the form of violent pogroms and, of course, reaching a horrific peak with the Holocaust.
From their past persecutions, many Jews, both inside and outside of Israel, share a sense of belonging in their ‘victim identity’. Their PURPLE binds them in the collective identity of ‘We Jews who suffer’. And some will hold that they suffer because they are God’s chosen – the superior ones the rest of the world is jealous of and some wish to destroy because of that jealousy. So that legitimises Israel destroying those who would destroy it as a result of that jealousy.
In so many ways, this narrative fits Henri Tajfel & John Turner’s (1979) Social Identity Theory. First PURPLE categories the Jews as ‘us’ (in-group), with everybody else as ‘them’ (out-group). Then it believes all the ‘good’ things about ‘us’ and all the ‘bad’ things about ‘them’ – social identification – including the stories of hostility towards God’s chosen – ‘victim identity’. Finally, RED and RED/BLUE lead ‘us’ to act out against ‘them’ to demonstrate our (racial) superiority – social comparison.
Together ‘victim identity’ and sense of God-given racial superiority make Israel a callous enemy and an intractable negotiating partner…and the perfect ‘stupid’ to play into Hamas’ manipulative strategies.
Thankfully, far from all Israelis have remained passively socialised into the Jewish ‘victim-but-superior’ ethos. Gideon Levy clearly is one.
Another notable dissenter is Reuven Moskovitz, a Holocaust survivor, who see the Israeli blockade of Gaza as effectively imprisoning the population in a massive concentration camp.
There are many others too – though with polls showing the Gaza offensive to be immensely popular with Israelis – 86% according to The Guardians’ Harriet Sherwood – it is not always politick to voice your objections in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
The fate of Gaza
Hamas has to be destroyed. In every sense of the word, their military wing are terrorists. Unless there are signs of a shift from their RED/BLUE zealotry, they cannot be reasoned with…so they must be destroyed. See Killing the Terrorists.
Pounding Gaza to rubble is not the way to do it, though. PURPLE will only build that into the Palestinian’s own narrative of ‘victim identity’. Stealthy and secretive assassinations (‘accidents’) and disappearances would be a far more better way of defeating Hamas. It’s strongly rumoured that such strategies employed by British intelligence agencies were one of the factors that brought the IRA to the negotiating table in the 1990s.
As Israel’s only current ‘true friend’, the United States has a unique responsibility in a carrot-and-stick approach to encourage the Israelis to take another approach to Hamas other than all-out bombardment. It will be difficult, though hopefully not impossible, for Israel to wean itself off huge ‘shock-and-awe’ demonstrations which actually do more for Hamas’ publicity than they please picnic chair soldiers in Israel.
Israel also has to find its identity beyond “Jewish victimhood and superiority”. Though they are currently very much on the margins, there are Israelis such as Neri Bar-On, Rafael Nasser and Integral Israel who are pursuing that debate. To stimulate the debate on a larger scale, Israel has to realise both just how it is perceived currently in the rest of the world and that it has a lot of potential friends who are only too willing to help the child frightened by its PURPLE nightmares to grow up and move beyond them. Many countries want a beneficent Israel, hedged in with international guarantees, that will serve as a model and stabilising force in the Middle East. (What they don’t want is a psychotic child armed with massive weaponry lashing out at its even more immature neighbours.)
In the longer term, Israeli moderates need to engage with Palestinian moderates to seek a viable solution to a centuries-brewed conflict. The Assimilation-Contrast Effect should enable collaborating moderates, driven by ORANGE and above, to isolate the extremists on all sides and minimise their influence.
One example of such collaboration is that of Integral Israel engaging with Elza Maalouf and the Centre of Human Emergence Middle East to take a Gravesian-flavoured approach to understanding the forces that drive conflict in the region and working with those natural flows to develop long-term sustainable solutions.
Obviously there is a hell of a long way to go and thousands are likely to die before real solutions can be implemented…but sociopsychological tools are there to be used, if only more will take them up.