“Liberal” Israelis: Still Crying And Shooting After All These Years

Interesting take on the situation by Lawernce of Cyberia:


“Crying and shooting” is the term used in Israeli political discourse to describe those Israelis who agonize over what they are doing to the Palestinians, but carry on doing it anyway. It’s a way for Israelis to feel better about themselves, by reasserting their liberal, progressive and humanitarian values, even as they carry out illiberal, regressive and murderous actions.

There was a wonderful example of the phenomenon last week in a column written for Ha’aretz by Bradley Burston. He wrote an agonized column – Our Defense Forces, our war crimes, our terrorism – about the disproportionate number of civilians among the Palestinians killed by the IDF, and specifically about Israeli’s collective refusal to acknowledge their responsibility for the killings.

But his column is like one of those non-apologies you make when you know you should apologize for something, but you’re not really sorry. When instead of saying “I’m sorry for what I did”, you say “I’m sorry if you were offended”, as if it’s the offended feelings that are the problem, not the fact that you said something offensive in the first place.

incident that set off Burston’s “soul-searching” was the killing of Myassar Abu Mu’attaq, and her four children – Rudayna (6) Hana (3), Saleh (4) and Mousad (15 months), photo left by Mohammed Abed for AFP – whose home was destroyed by an Israeli shell as the family sat down to breakfast.

(The IDF initially acknowledged the family had been killed by one of their tank shells which had gone off course, but subsequently claimed that they weren’t really responsible because although they had fired the shell, it had not really hit the house, but had struck instead two nearby Palestinian gunmen who were carrying large amounts of explosives that were detonated by the Israeli shell and indirectly
blew up the Abu Mu’attaq house. This is a variant of the “Ghalia Defence” that the IDF came up with when it shelled a Gaza beach in June 2006, but denied any responsibility for the deaths of the Ghalia
family who had been having a picnic there, claiming that although they fired six shells at the beach – one of which they could not account for – the errant shell could not have killed the Ghalia family who
must have been killed instead by Palestinian munitions hidden under the sand that might have been inadvertantly detonated by the Israeli bombardment. That’s a close echo of what the IDF claims about the Abu Mu’attaq killings: the IDF knows it fired the shells, knows the civilians at the receiving end are dead, but subsequently introduces some intermediate mechanism – mines under the beach, exploding backpacks – that deflects responsibility to an intermediate agent, and allows the army that fires the shells to maintain the pretense that even when it kills civilians its intentions are pure. There’s probably a technical name in medical literature for this phenomenon of shifting blame for guilty actions to an intermediate party).

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