It is not just the Iron Dome which prevents free thought. All belief systems and ideologies do that, whether they be Zionism, nationalism, ethno-centrism, racism, religion, sectarianism, Communism, Fascism or any “ism” whatsoever. To their credit, a few Israeli journalists have exposed Israeli atrocities and lies, at the risk of being labelled traitors by their country.
(Daily Times, 7 August 2014)
I never thought that one day I would write to defend the Islamic Brotherhood or Hamas, but such has been the turn of events lately that I am constrained to do so. I long ago shed the ideological straitjacket which I always found rather suffocating even as I proclaimed the glorious truth of my chosen ideology.
It amazes me that so many people continue to view the world through rigid ideological prisms till death does them part. Human nature and human history – indeed, the universe as a whole in all its complexities – are far too complicated to fit any ideological paradigm or belief system, whether religious or secular.
Even as I write, the Middle East’s strongest military power, Israel, employing the full might of the huge arsenal and latest military technology provided by the United States, is reducing to rubble an enclave 41 km long and 6-12 km wide, inhabited by 1.8 million men, women and children.
So far, 1,865 Palestinians have been killed (including nearly 300 children), about 9,000 wounded, over 3,000 homes destroyed and a quarter of the population turned into refugees (some for the second, third or fourth time). Israel has destroyed or damaged 136 schools, some of which were being used as shelters, 24 hospitals and clinics and 25 ambulances. The Hamas rockets – the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which provided the pretext for the invasion – killed three Israeli civilians. Combat with Hamas cost the lives of 64 Israeli soldiers.
Two Norwegian doctors, Prof. Mads Gilbert and Prof. Erik Fosse, who have worked in Gaza hospitals during the previous Israeli invasion (2112) as well as the current one, have categorically repudiated Israeli allegations that Hamas has been using civilians as “human shield” and storing weapons in hospitals and mosques.
Both foreign doctors say they haven’t seen a single armed man or any Hamas leaders at the Shifa hospital as alleged by Israel. Gilbert reckons that 90% of those killed are civilians, higher than the UN estimate of at least 70%.
To their credit, a few Israeli journalists have exposed Israeli atrocities and lies, at the risk of being labelled traitors by their country. Gideon Levy writes in the Haaretz (“It’s all Hamas’ fault, right Israel?” 31 July):
“It’s so easy to be an Israeli; your tender conscience is pure as the driven snow: Everything is Hamas’ fault. The rockets are the fault of Hamas; that can be taken for granted. Hamas started the war, for no reason; that, too, ‘goes without saying.’ Hamas is a vicious terrorist organization, beasts in human form, born to kill, fundamentalists – and apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? . . .
“It has reached the dimensions of a real massacre. But Israelis’ hands are clean and their consciences are quiet – so quiet you could cry. It’s Hamas’ fault. . . . But even through the malignant cloud of denial, even understanding how easy it is to blame everything on Hamas – Israel has never had such a convenient enemy, which can be framed for all its sins – we must ask whether everything really is the fault of Hamas. Is Israel genuinely completely innocent? In the face of bleeding, ruined Gaza, the work of Israeli hands, such denial is incomprehensible.”
Uri Misgav writes, also in the Haaretz (“The Iron Dome over our consciences”, 11 July): “The casualty numbers will continue to rise. But Israelis will continue to wallow in their exclusive misery and self-pity. It doesn’t appear in the technical specifications, but Iron Dome does not intercept only missiles. Apparently it intercepts free thought as well. It dooms its users to blindness, deafness and dementia. Has anyone asked himself how and why the “present round of escalation” began? Who escalated it? Whom and what does it serve?”
And how can I leave out the peerless 90 year-old Uri Avnery, who writes (“Meeting in a tunnel”, www.avnery-news.co.il/english): “For viewers of the Israeli media, Hamas is the incarnation of evil. We are fighting ‘terrorists’. We are bombing ‘terror targets’. Hamas fighters never withdraw, they ‘escape’. Their leaders are not commanding from underground command posts, they are ‘hiding’. They are storing their arms in mosques, schools and hospitals (as we did during British times). Tunnels are ‘terror tunnels’. Hamas is cynically using the civilian population as ‘human shields’ (as Winston Churchill used the London population). Gaza schools and hospitals are not hit by Israeli bombs, God forbid, but by Hamas rockets (which mysteriously lose their way) and so on.”
The practice of dehumanizing one’s enemy is age-old. We all know that the terms ‘hero’ and ‘villain’, ‘freedom fighter’ and ‘terrorist’, ‘patriot’ and ‘traitor’ are interchangeable. Menachem Begin, who as leader of Irgun ordered the bombing of King David Hotel in Jerusalem on July 22, 1946, which killed 91 persons, including 17 Jews, went on to become the prime minister of Israel (1977-83).
In complete disregard of international and humanitarian laws, Israel has kidnapped a whistle-blower from Italy (Mordechai Vanunu, 1986), poisoned a Hamas leader in Jordan (Khaled Mashal, 1997), killed a 67-year year old wheel chair-bound, quadriplegic, nearly blind Hamas ideologue with a hellfire missile fired from an Apache helicopter (Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, 2004), assassinated a Hamas leader in Dubai using foreign passports (Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, 2010) and bombed UN-designated safe havens, hospitals and children playing on a beach in Gaza, which it has invaded three times since turning the tiny enclave into an open-air prison in 2007.
Complicit in the Israeli atrocities against the people of Gaza are Egypt, which enforces the blockade along its own border with Gaza, and the United States, which, at the same time as it calls some Israeli actions “indefensible and unacceptable”, announces that it will immediately replenish Israel’s spent ammunition and authorizes a further $220 million to reinforce its Iron Dome.
Apparently it is not just the Iron Dome which prevents free thought. All belief systems and ideologies do that, whether they be Zionism, nationalism, ethno-centrism, racism, religion, sectarianism, Communism, Fascism or any “ism” whatsoever.
Perhaps those of us who find the Israeli propaganda against the Palestinians and Hamas despicable should ponder our own certainties on issues within the country and in the region. Our ability to be deluded and to be delusional is immense, like that of the Israeli public. There is nothing more wrong than self-righteousness and nothing less respectable than self-pity.
By Razi Azmi