Israel’s military has bombed whatever stands, lives and moves in Gaza, including the UN facilities and aid. No other state in the world has behaved, without facing dire diplomatic consequences, in such a way. The Israeli state which, although located in the Middle East, claims a ‘western’ civilizational link and heritage has surely fallen short of it. The Israeli government has failed totally in its actions: Hamas is still able to rocket blast South (and possibly North) Israel, the Israeli military actions have killed 130 ‘militants’ sacrificing about 630 civilians, it has prevented the rescue of the injured, causing the Red Cross to condemn the actions, and has attacked UN convoys (a “deja vu” since the Israeli army has a certain preference for “mistakenly” bombing the UN). Among the disturbing facts of the Israeli Kadima government is that 257 children have been killed and 1,080 wounded. It is a massacre, and one which only one ‘democracy’ in the entire world has the ‘privilege’ to perpetrate.
We may wish to ask: is this a collective punishment? I do not think so. Let’s face one fact, the Israeli government, as discussed in my previous post, would have lost the elections if they had not acted against Hamas’ rockets. We have also to recognize that a state has the right of self-defense (as any other country or people for what matter). The problem is where self-defense ends and mass murder begins. Surely Israel has misused its self-defense option in this case. To call, today, Israel’s actions self-defense is ridiculous. Like in the case of the last war in Lebanon, Israel has failed to acheive its targets, as Olmert has admitted, but this time it cannot give up: there are the elections.
They can only bomb and bomb, killing without a real solution, for any ceasefire which then results in Hamas launching new rockets will mean the political death of Kadima and allies. The Israeli government can today only espouse an ethos of death to cover its own failures. Unfortunately, many Israelis like many Palestinians, adhere to this ethos and believe it can deliver the peace they need. For this reason the Israeli government, and groups like Hamas, are so ready to adopt it, foster it and praise it.
The politics of the ‘ethos of death’ is based on the principal that death is necessary to convince that serious actions have been taken to protect, or achieve, the political aim. The ‘ethos of death’ works not only for Israel, which has to convince its own population that the government can guarantee security, but Hamas too, since death reinforces the group’s position and transforms, inevitably, Israel into a twenty-first century Herod: slaughtering so many children has never helped the image of a nation!
Israelis and Palestinians seem trapped in the cycle of the ‘ethos of death’ and the problem is that mediators seem unable to recognize it. Mediators are again focusing on technical aspects: stopping Israel’s carnage and Hamas’ rockets. This is not the issue. Both Israel and Hamas know that they have to reach, one day or another, a ceasefire, even though Israel will not be able to stop Hamas from possessing and using rockets, nor will Hamas stop the Israeli blockage of Gaza. The issue is that, when needed, the ‘ethos of death’ will be used again at the first political strategic opportunity.
Blood covers not only the bodyies of the dying but also the frustration of the Palestinian and Israeli people, often transformed by the ‘ethos of death’ into twenty-first century vampires seeking more and more blood from the ‘enemy’ in the name of survival. If both the people of Israel and Palestine do not reject the politics of the ‘ethos of death’, this new ceasefire will remain a mere parentheses of calm so that Palestinians in Gaza may bury families and mourn hundreds of relatives and friends dead, and the Israelis of the South may repair windows, ready to be soon broken again.