Writing on the Wall

Reading the comments on the article written by Israeli MK Shai Hermesh on December 29th 2009,the overwhelming thing which struck me was the sheer lack of empathy on the part of CiF commentators both for the writer, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, and the thousands of others like him who have for so many years  endured living with the menace of terrorist attacks from Gaza.
This lack of empathy for the suffering of fellow human beings based purely upon their identity is unfortunately far from new. In the world of psychiatry, lack of empathy is a symptom of various disorders, but my feeling is that this is different; it would be too easy to dismiss what we see manifested below the line at CiF as the ramblings of unfortunate people. Lack of empathy for the suffering of Israelis is the result of years of concerted effort on the part of Arab political organisations such as Hamas and the PLO and their sympathisers in the Western Media.
However, it goes a long way beyond just not being sympathetic to Israeli suffering; this lack of empathy is the result of an orchestrated campaign to dehumanise Israelis, and it is having great success. For years now, whenever I have watched British TV coverage of the conflict in Israel, be it Cast Lead, Lebanon II or Defensive Shield, I have remarked to myself that the average person who does not have any other information as to what actually happens on the ground could easily come away with the impression that there are no ordinary people in Israel. All we ever see are Israeli government officials and spokespeople or uniformed anonymous soldiers. Contrast this with what we see from the other side of the conflict: abundant images of ordinary Gazans or Lebanese – often women and children – displaying emotional reactions to their circumstances. Palestinians or Lebanese are portrayed as individuals whereas Israelis are portrayed as an anonymous group. The same goes for the written media; how many ‘human interest’ stories about Israelis spring to mind?
I no longer see this phenomenon as lazy or accidental; I see it as a tactic of war. Just as the Jews were deliberately dehumanised before and during World War II to such an extent that the Holocaust could occur, so today Israelis have been dehumanised to such an extent that their experiences and suffering not only count for nothing in the wider world, they are even used against them as a further weapon on both a national and individual scale.
Examples of this were clearly in evidence on Shai Hermesh’s thread.

JJ139
29 Dec 2009, 8:21AM
The author uses ‘terrorism’ in the headline and makes liberal use of the term ‘terrorist’ throughout his piece. But the elephant in the room is the terrorism of the vastly bigger, vastly more resourced IDF.

TonyChinnery
29 Dec 2009, 8:39AM
We had the same propaganda justifying apartheid in South Africa.That the original inhabitants of South Africa should be content to live in their bantustans and work as servants for the Master Race. The fact is that Israel (just like the USA for that matter) is a state based on ethnic cleansing. They have already taken 80% of the former Palestine and its still going on, as witnessed by today’s news that they are planning 700 new illegal homes in the occupied territory.
The real terrorist here is of course the state of Israel, you can’t shift hundreds of thousands of people and enclose them behind concrete walls by asking them nicely. Israel is the world’s expert on terrorism, whilst shouting about the puny efforts of their opponents (a handful of deaths against the thousands killed by the Israeli army).

bass46
29 Dec 2009, 5:06PM
zdenekv
You demand evidence of war crimes when it’s already been found. You just brush the Goldstone report aside. Presumably you saw the white phosphorous falling to earth.
Mark Regev claimed on British TV that the entire child population of Gaza were little more than pawns in the evil Hamas machine, and that together they were conspiring, in the midst of their grief, with a coherent narrative forced on them by Hamas to make Israel look bad. In other words, when the tearful 9 year old boy described holding on to his brother bleed to death for almost 2 days, he was making it up.
Later, he went on to say that the white phosphorous shells were being manufactured by Hamas who were launching them at their own people, again, to make Israel look bad. It was all on News Night, bold as brass. If Hamas were able to manufacture artillery shells and then artillery pieces to fire them then what have the IDF been doing with their illegal siege?
The truth is that the IDF doesn’t need any help in looking bad.
With liars like this as official spokesmen, what chance Israel admitting to itself what it has done, or worse, not revelling in it?
These civilians weren’t killed by Hamas, they were killed by the IDF with Israel guns fired by Israeli’s who are telling themselves they had to do it. It’s a collective delusion inspired by Israel’s “World’s Permanent Victim” mentality.
The sooner Israel faces what it’s become, a war monger fronted by well dressed liars, the better for everyone.

BoredSilly
29 Dec 2009, 6:54PM
Israel has become a fascist state….. It’s genocidal actions won’t be forgotten for
generations, the author seems to care greatly for the Israeli victims but seems
to consider the Palestinian’s expendable. With an attitude like that you had better
get used to the sound of those rockets because I have a funny feeling they
won’t be stopping anytime soon.

An additional consequence of dehumanisation is projection, which we see very often on CiF; posters ‘know’ exactly how Israelis think and what their intentions are.

Oldtymer
29 Dec 2009, 8:23AM
The Zionists will never agree to peace till all the indigenous population, the rightful owners of the stolen country, have been driven out or killed.

We also see examples of those who demonstrate their lack of empathy by dismissing or diminishing Israeli suffering.

Emberplume
29 Dec 2009, 8:45AM
Oh, here we go again. 67, 73, Israel is a brave sliver always in danger of being pushed into the sea by the great mass of Araby, and so on and so forth.
That narrative won’t hunt in 2010.
How many actual casualties have the Qassam rockets inflicted? Let’s dispense with the sleight of hand of how many were fired and focus on that supposed bloody toll. The author knows very well that in comparison to the numbers of dead Palestinians as a result of the IDF incursion, the numbers of Israelis injured by this grave threat to national security are farcical.
How many casualties of the brutal siege of Gaza that followed, in terms of the ill and weak dying for lack of medicine, food, water? What about the irreparable damage to the society?
The imagery of frightened Israeli schoolchildren painted by Mr Hermesh is designed as an emotional appeal, plucking our heartstrings on behalf of a heartless long-term strategy by a powerful state. Unfortunately, fright is trumped by the starvation, bereavement and death on the other side. It would be good to have some kind of constructive exchange on the future of the crisis, but it cannot begin with an above-the-line article suffused with such sickening dishonesty.

HZabner
29 Dec 2009, 1:33PM
I was very surprised to learn that the Guardian (?The terrorists? power has been blunted?, December 29, 2009) found it necessary to publish a piece, which I assume was commissioned, by the Israeli war-monger Shai Hermesh, well known in Israel for his calling for the kind of operation undertaken by Israel a year ago; immoral, illegal and brutal as it was, it has not, as he argued, ?resolve the problem?. The problem, of course, is not the Qassam rockets, which in eight years have killed less people in Israel than die in a single weekend of road accidents. The problem is Israel?s continued, brutal and illegal occupation of Palestine. To read Mr. Hermesh, one gets the impression that what was faced by the Israelis around Gaza was worse than a combination of Auschwitz, the Blitz and Hiroshima, when in reality, the ones facing the Blitz are the Palestinians in Gaza, who had over one hundred dead (over 1400) for each Israeli killed (13, 4 of those killed by the IDF itself?). The idea of paralleling the two articles is also quite disturbing, I must admit. This equality of voice and stance is sickening. Would the Guardian think of giving a voice to a supporter of Apartheid beside a voice against it, in the 1980?s? Would it make sense, indeed, to give an equal voice to a Nazi propagandist, beside a Jew writing about Kristalnacht in 1938? To equate occupier and occupied, the powerful and the powerless, is unwise not only on moral grounds, but also on political ones.
I have a Dean at Sapir College, then controlled by Mr. Hermesh, until 2001, when I have left Israel because of its racist and aggressive policies, which I was always against, and could no longer stomach. Mr. Hermesh not only supported the illegal occupation, but was a consistent voice fanning the flames of conflict, and the fact you have chosen him to illuminate your readers on Israel?s brutal attack on Gaza, is highly questionable. While you are quite happy to give him a voice, you seem reluctant to afford the same right to those Jewish and Israeli voices of reason, arguing against Israeli atrocities, war crimes, and the continued illegal occupation. You may wish to review such a stance, if you wish to contribute to a lasting, just peace in the Middle East.
Prof. Haim Bresheeth

Haim Bresheeth, as he told me in person not long ago when we met on the set of a TV show, is a committed one-stater; he believes in and campaigns for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. His above comment, however, seems to have been deleted, so he re-posted it with the following introduction:

HZabner
29 Dec 2009, 5:00PM
My comment was removed from the list, though I believe there is no inaccuracy or offence in it, so I am posting it again for you to judge

He and others are not afraid to use Nazi analogies in their campaign to dehumanise and delegitimize Israel; after all, the modern mind rightly associates Nazis with the very worst of what human beings are capable of, and so to plant the link between Israelis and Nazis in the reader’s mind serves a purpose.

Davidpalmer
29 Dec 2009, 6:23PM
One can say what wants about the dastardly Palestinians ,
HOWEVER ,Gaza is still a ghetto .

HZabner
29 Dec 2009, 6:28PMDavidPalmer
But I have to agree with your sentiment about Gaza being a ghetto, though I rather think it is more of a concentration camp now.

Another method of dehumanising Israelis is to avoid displaying any kind of empathy through the use of conspiracy theories.

HZabner
29 Dec 2009, 5:47PM
@HebrewHammer
Those who justify the brutal murder of civilians, whoever they are, cannot be called left, democratic, or even civilised, what ever title they give themselves. We see through this now, after many years of Israeli propaganda successes, it is helpless now. I know that the IDF has set up a special unit of bloggers to partake in such exchanges as this – this was widely reported in the media in Israel and abroad – so maybe some of the voices here are also working somewhere in Tel Aviv, doing their job? Somebody has to do it…

HZabner
29 Dec 2009, 6:02PM
Hebrew Hammer
I accept your claim that you are not paid; this is a pity. Where are the operatives today? I understand millions are being invested for exactly such a purpose, and none of them are online today? What a shambles!

raymonddelauney
29 Dec 2009, 12:58PM
zdenekv
Actually, helicopter gunships, rapid assault aircraft and tanks tend to require slightly more than a “knock on the door”….
Rubbish . The same principle applies obviously whether one uses artillery , mortars , helicopter gunships or aircraft. Secondly IDF uses code of conduct which strictly prohibits deliberate targeting of non combatants : this is a combination of international law, Israeli law, and the IDF’s own traditional ethical code – ruach tzahal, “the spirit of the IDF.” Reserve units and regular units too are taught the follow these rules. Your argument is obviously based on prejudice , speculation and guessing and not much more .
Excellent. Textbook Hasbara and GIYUS response.
Now can you turn your attentions as to how the IDF propose to collect some of the world’s most moral cluster bombs from the fields of southern Lebanon.
No doubt you’ll be leading the way.

Hornstein
29 Dec 2009, 2:14PM
I have one word for this author and his fellow Israeli apologists: GOLDSTONE. Just to remind you, he said that Israel’s aim is to “punish, humiliate and terrorise the civilian population of Gaza”. In case anyone missed it, I’ll repeat “terrorise” a civilian population. He called the siege of Gaza a war crime and a possible crime against humanity and the slaughter Israel calls “cast lead” a war crime. Israel’s reputation, whatever it was, is now in tethers. It’s hasbara does not work and everybody now knows them for what they are – murdering liars; a terrorist state. Perhaps unwittingly the author was correct in his choice of the headline – The terrorist power had been blunted.
And if this author thinks that by peddling the same regurgitated rubbish from an Israeli ministry is going to work, he ought to read this piece recently published in Redress.
http://www.redress.cc/zionism/redress20091226

Also on this thread we saw ample evidence of those who have bought into the Hamas-style ideology to such an extent that not only do they no longer pretend to want self –rule for Palestinians within the framework of the pre-1967 armistice line, their answer to an Israeli account of life under the threat of terror is a trite ‘you shouldn’t be there anyway’.

bergamo
29 Dec 2009, 9:45AM
I find appalling that Cast Lead is regarded as a success by most Israeli. It speaks volumes on the regard in which Israeli society holds human rights, at least when it comes to Palestinians.
Harvesting Palestinian organs (CIF 20 Dec.), torture, indefinite detention of prisoners, human shields and medical coercion of patients (UN Human rights press release 15 Dec.), a mayor preventing a Palestinian building a house on his own land (Haaretz Dec.14), the arson of a mosque by Israeli settlers, Orthodox Jews spitting on Christians (ICH, Nov.30), 53% of Israeli in favor of ethnic cleansing (IsraelNN Nov. 19),…
this is what finds in the press in the two latest months of 2009 on the Israeli’s disregard for the rights of others. Mr. Hermesh, this is the society you are building. Are you happy with it?
I understand your desire to live in peace. But don’t you realize that the others too have the same right, and that that right is denied to them by your government?
Do you realize Mr. Hermesh that you are living on the lands from which your government has forced out the original inhabitants only a couple of generations ago? It must be sad for a Palestinian cleansed out in the great Israel independence war, to see his land settled and made prosperous by those he cannot but consider thieves. Don’t you agree?
You are asking us to understand your plight. What about showing sympathy — and not just sympathetic words but something more concrete — to the plight of those your government actions have hurt these sixty latest years?

Ranong
29 Dec 2009, 10:20AM
A missive from The Heart of Darkness by GonePostal. Thank you for sharing.
But, to be fair, at least he doesn’t pretend like Mr Hermesh that the huge loss of life was greeted with “sorrow” by most Israelis.
Come to think of it, the article becomes more bizarre on a second reading.
I enjoyed the use of the word “entered” for what others call an invasion. The IDF was “just saying hallo” I assume. It certainly left its calling-card.
And the “deadly” rockets that occasionally dislodged roof tiles in the town of Najd. Or to give it its post-ethnic cleansed name , Sderot.

raymonddelauney
29 Dec 2009, 11:25AM
mantoani
Now cynical can you get,when Hamas shooting missiles into Israel killing women and children is considered dislodging a few roof tiles,of the houses in Ashdot and Shederot..
Interesting history particularly about Sderot. All the sponsored fact finding missions that MPs go on never gives the complete picture. Have a look at the little village of Najd. “Liberated” by the Negev Brigade on 12-13 May 1948.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Najd,_Gaza

Indigenous1
29 Dec 2009, 11:30AM
Yes Ranong –
“Sderot” is stolen Palestinian land. Fact.

Khondakar
29 Dec 2009, 2:48PM
Shai Hermesh
“About 30 years ago, my wife and I established our home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, a few kilometres from the Gaza Strip, and raised our five children”
Th land is not was not your land.Those children were raised in illgeal and stolen ground . Never forget that simple truth.Dont forget another piece of facts that GAZA has been a zoo encircled with the barb wires enforced by Isareli miltary after it had left the area.
Who was it Rabin or Ariel Sharon I am forgetting ,who confirmed in one of their lucid moments that he would have been a suicide bomber or terrorist if he were a Palestininan?
World did not believe Stalin/Hitler/Pol Pot .They have no better reason to belive Israeli -pro settlers views on Gaza.

ernardus
29 Dec 2009, 3:01PM
We all know that in spite of a quiet one year after “Cast Lead” (horrible euphemism for mass murder), the blockade of Gaza is as much in place as it was one year ago. This alone tells us that it was not the Qassam missiles that are the problem. We knew that all along. In the past 4 years there have been long periods during which Hamas scrupulously observed agreed cease-fires. These invariably collapsed after Israeli provocations. Israel demonstrated clearly it did not want to sit down with Hamas and come to a modus vivendi.
A clear demonstration of this came after Hamas won the parliamentary elections in Jan 2006 and moderates like prime minister Ismail Haniye made positive moves towards Israel. Israel’s response was typical. In February 2006 Dov Weinglass announced his infamous plan, that Gaza was going to be put “on a diet” and that the “peace process” was going to be put in “formaldehyde”. This was when the blockade of Gaza first started.
It does not matter if there is peace and quiet. It won’t even matter if Hamas releases Gilad Shalit. The fact that Hamas represents a Palestinian resistance movement, that Israel cannot control/influence/manipulate like the PA Vichy regime is the real reason for Israel’s continued onslaught against the Gaza Strip.
Israel wants to destroy Hamas politically and militarily, that is the real objective.
It tried to destroy Hamas during Cast Lead by punishing the civilian population for its support for Hamas. It destroyed the civilian infrastructure of the Gaza Strip to such an extent that Israel knew that many civilians would be killed.
The world witness on tv the war crimes committed against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
None of this one will read in the piece of Mr Hermesh. Does he still think that Europeans, Americans and the rest of the world have not become better informed about the situation. Does he not know that in 1949-50 the Palestinian peasants who owned and worked the land around Gaza were put in trucks and dumped across the border in the sandy Gaza Strip, condemned to a life of destitution?
He can learn a thing or two from Moshe Dayan.. I recall the funeral speech Dayan held in 1956 or so for a kibbutz member after he had been killed by a Palestinian feda’y near the Strip. He said: “Let us not today cast blame on the murderers. What can we say against their terrible hatred for us? For eight years now they have sat in the refugee camps of Gaza and have watched how, before their very eyes, we have turned their lands and villages, where they and their forefathers previously dwelled, into our home.”
So better remember, Mr Hermesh, that you made your home in Kfar Azza on land that was stolen from Palestinian peasants. They, their children and grandchildren still are on the other side of the fence. Being peasants they will never forget their land and the injustice inflicted on them.
A final piece of advice: read Joe Sacco’s “Footnotes in Gaza” if you want to know how Gazans feel.

nanohistory
29 Dec 2009, 5:34PM
The real question is why are the West Bank occupiers there in the first place? It’s they that are endangering their own children in order to oust the rightful residents of the West Bank and Arab Jerusalem.
I wouldn’t want my children to live in fear either, but nor would I want to use them as props to collectively punish an entire people who have the actual right to be there. It really is like apartheid South Africa — just look at the sinister “pass laws” that the Israeli government has enacted in order to prevent free passage from one Palestinian town or village to another.
If only we could hear more from the Israeli Left who are against the settlements, but the Western media rarely publishes their point of view.

Those with apparently less of a need for sophistry just go for out and out racism.

teds
29 Dec 2009, 3:18PM
Who will end the state terror of the zionist entity?

teds
29 Dec 2009, 3:55PM
The root cause of this conflict is zionism i.e. an exclusive, exclusionary an discriminatory jewish colonial-settler state supported unconditionally by the USA for geopolitical and geostrategic reasons.

bass46
29 Dec 2009, 5:06PM
zdenekv
You demand evidence of war crimes when it’s already been found. You just brush the Goldstone report aside. Presumably you saw the white phosphorous falling to earth.
Mark Regev claimed on British TV that the entire child population of Gaza were little more than pawns in the evil Hamas machine, and that together they were conspiring, in the midst of their grief, with a coherent narrative forced on them by Hamas to make Israel look bad. In other words, when the tearful 9 year old boy described holding on to his brother bleed to death for almost 2 days, he was making it up.
Later, he went on to say that the white phosphorous shells were being manufactured by Hamas who were launching them at their own people, again, to make Israel look bad. It was all on News Night, bold as brass. If Hamas were able to manufacture artillery shells and then artillery pieces to fire them then what have the IDF been doing with their illegal siege?
The truth is that the IDF doesn’t need any help in looking bad.
With liars like this as official spokesmen, what chance Israel admitting to itself what it has done, or worse, not revelling in it?
These civilians weren’t killed by Hamas, they were killed by the IDF with Israel guns fired by Israeli’s who are telling themselves they had to do it. It’s a collective delusion inspired by Israel’s “World’s Permanent Victim” mentality.
The sooner Israel faces what it’s become, a war monger fronted by well dressed liars, the better for everyone.

Rapport
29 Dec 2009, 9:32AM
I join fellow readers for the humanitarian appeal to rebuild Israel after the attacks and immediately lift of the air/land/sea siege of Tel-Aviv.
Does the author think, we are blind and can’t see and read?

I’m not a fan of youtube, but this 10 minute video explains a lot about the situation in Gaza:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0aEo59c7zU&NR=1&feature=fvwp
It’s a special time of the year but for those who live in Gaza, it’s the more of the same; if not worse.

Now, check out the comments in the Youtube link Rapport provides:


And finally, the obligatory deleted pro-Israel comment of the day:

DrJohnZoidberg
29 Dec 2009, 8:15AM
i’m sure that there be those who come on here to explain that the missiles will only be targetted at ‘zionists’ rather than ordinary israeli citizens…
the euroleft will of course never express their true thoughts, that they really wish that the ‘zionist problem’ had been ‘solved’ prior to 1945…but not for any sinister reasons, honest…

The comments we encounter daily on CiF are clearly indicative of just how far the campaign to dehumanise Israelis has come. Let us not forget that this dehumanisation is a tactic in a war being waged against Jews who have the temerity to want to self-determine. Men and women of conscience need right now to cast their minds back to the last time in history when Jews were dehumanised on such a scale and remember the consequences. This has already gone too far; this time dehumanisation of Jews and incitement against them in the media must be stopped before it gets any further out of control, and action must be taken by those who call themselves leaders in this country if they want to be worthy of that title.

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