Operation Mini Cast Lead

IN FOCUS, 7 Jun 2010

Gideon Levy - Haaretz

Like in “Mini-Israel,” the park where there is everything, but smaller, Israel embarked yesterday on a mini Operation Cast Lead. Like its larger, losing predecessor, this operation had it all: the usual false claim that is was they who had started it – and not the landing of commandos from helicopters on a ship in open sea, away from Israeli territorial waters. There was the claim that the first act of violence came not from the soldiers, but the rioting activists on Mavi Marmara; that the blockade on Gaza is legal and that the flotilla to its shores is against the law – God knows which law.

Again came the claim of self defense, that “they lynched us” and that all the dead are on their side. Once more the use of violence and excessive and lethal force was in play and once more civilians wound up dead.

This action also featured the pathetic focus on “public relations,” as if there is something to explain, and again the sick question was asked: Why didn’t the soldiers use more force.

Again Israel will pay a heavy diplomatic price, once which had not been considered ahead of time. Again, the Israeli propaganda machine has managed to convince only brainwashed Israelis, and once more no one asked the question: What was it for? Why were our soldiers thrown into this trap of pipes and ball bearings? What did we get out of it?

If Cast Lead was a turning point in the attitude of the world toward us, this operation is the second horror film of the apparently ongoing series. Israel proved yesterday that it learned nothing from the first movie.

Yesterday’s fiasco could and should have been prevented. This flotilla should have been allowed to pass and the blockade should be brought to an end.

This should have happened a long time ago. In four years Hamas has not weakened and Gilad Shalit was not released. There was not even a sign of a gain.

And what have we instead? A country that is quickly becoming completely isolated. This is a place that turns away intellectuals, shoots peace activists, cuts off Gaza and now finds itself in an international blockade. Once more yesterday it seemed, and not for the first time, that Israel is increasingly breaking away from the mother ship, and losing touch with the world – which does not accept its actions and does not understand its motives.

Yesterday there was no one on the planet, not a newsman or analyst, except for its conscripted chorus, who could say a good word about the lethal takeover.

The Israel Defense Forces too came out looking bad again. The magic evaporated long ago, the most moral army in the world, that was once the best army in the world, failed again. More and more there is the impression that nearly everything it touches causes harm to Israel.

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Gideon Levy is a Haaretz columnist and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. Levy was the recipient of the Euro-Med Journalist Prize for 2008; the Leipzig Freedom Prize in 2001; the Israeli Journalists’ Union Prize in 1997; and The Association of Human Rights in Israel Award for 1996. His new book, The Punishment of Gaza, has just been published by Verso Publishing House in London and New York.

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