Thursday, 24 July 2014


Thinking it isn't the same as doing it.

Maybe I should draw a graph, but intelligent people don't need one. All they need is a word to the wise and that word is: "When the death toll is only in the hundreds, PR matters a hell of a lot." So, it is for Israel in its latest messy little border war in Gaza.

The fact is that whatever happens in the next few days and weeks, at some point in the future the Jews of Israel are going to wake up to peace and possibly bird song, but Gaza with its teeming slums and festering loathing for them will still be there, breathing the same air – and so will the Palestinians on the West Bank, and the millions of Palestinians camped around the borders of Israel (or Palestine as they will continue to call it).

The problem will not have been solved because the only solution to this problem would be a "Final Solution," and the Jews, for obvious reasons, rightly balk at that, even though the power of Israel has never been stronger vis-a-vis its shambolic Arab neighbours.

In her own stupid and inhumane way, Ayelet Shaked, the Israeli politician and parliamentarian, who recently called for the deaths of the mothers of all Palestinians, has a certain grim logic on her side.

When two dogs can't stop fighting, one of the dogs has to be removed or put down, and humans have a long track record of expelling or genociding other tribes that threaten them, or which they simply don’t like. Right now this is happening to Northern Iraq's small Christian population, and few can doubt how the Palestinians would treat the Jews if by some miracle they had all the power.

The usual arguments used to support Israel.

As Ms. Shaked and some ultra-Zionists envision, 'removing' the remainder of the Palestinians is a necessary and logical step to create the defensible boundaries that a state – as detested by it neighbours as Israel is – needs to survive.

But talk, no matter how shocking it may occasionally be, is also cheap. The Jews are not Stalin or Genghis Khan, and their most successful mass murderers were used up in the Russian Revolution and the wars of the Neo-Cons. Most of them are a lot more moderate than Ms. Shaked, who herself looks like a typical western liberal who simply got on the wrong train and became a Jewish orthodox ultra-nationalist by mistake.

Ayelet Shaked: Kill them all!
Despite this there are many who believe that the Israeli government is secretly seeking to genocide the Palestinians, and that the images streaming out of Gaza are confirmation of this. But the numbers simply don't back this up. Quite the reverse. Even with Syria and Iraq falling apart and the crisis in the Ukraine to provide convenient diversions, the best the Israelis can do is kill a few hundred of an enemy population that breeds much faster than they do. One figure the media hasn't focused on too much is that Gaza has a birth rate almost double Israel's, and comparable with those of many Sub-Saharan African countries.

A few hundred deaths spread out over weeks! If that's all the killing they have in them, then why bother? It just makes survivors and bystanders hate them all the more without alterring the situation in any meaningful way. The Israelis are not going to solve the basic problem of living cheek-by-jowl with a people who will always despise them with that kind of kill rate, so it is only fair to give them the benefit of the doubt and accept that whatever they are doing by going into Gaza it is not genocide.

The usual arguments
used to support the Palestinians.
But if the Israelis can't follow the path of eliminating their opponents, they can't go the other way either, by doing a fair, mutually acceptable deal with the Palestinians. That would involve making concessions and trusting people whom they know have good reason to hate them. The Israelis suspect that any concessions made, such as territory returned or prisoners released, would simply be used against them at some point. So, in a sense, the Israelis are just as penned in as the long-suffering people of the Gaza concentration camp.

Then there's the problem of PR. Israel's position in the Middle East is as artificial and dependent as that of the Crusader States centuries earlier – reliant on the support and goodwill of those far oversees. By the way, this is the same "those far oversees" who thought Nelson Mandela would be a good deal for South Africa. For Israel PR really does count, and calls for genocide by Knesset members along with images of dead kids (hard to avoid as half the population of Gaza is under 18) are hard to spin, even for a country with so many friends in the media.

Another problem Israel has is that a lot of Jews simply don't live there. That state serves a useful function for them – effectively an "outsource" for their Jewish identity, which they tend to downplay in the countries they actually live in. But this "pariah baby-killer state" thing is something of an embarrassment.

So what are we to make of Ms. Shaked's outburst? Women, after all, often have a shamanic power to express the deeper currents in a society. Calling for the genocide of Palestinians without having the will to do it, is ultimately just another way of ringing Israel's own death knell. Deep down, I suspect, most Jews realize that Israel's ultimate fate is to shrivel and die, or to assimilate itself out of existence. Ms. Shaked's comments may just be her way of subconsciously channelling that sense of doom.

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