Israel Is Losing This War

NEARLY SEVENTY YEARS ago, in the course of World War II, a heinous crime  was committed in the city of Leningrad. For more than a thousand days, a  gang of extremists called "the Red Army" held the millions of the town’s  inhabitants hostage and provoked retaliation from the German Wehrmacht  from inside the population centers. The Germans had no alternative but  to bomb and shell the population and to impose a total blockade, which  caused the death of hundreds of thousands.

Some time before that, a similar crime was committed in England. The  Churchill gang hid among the population of London, misusing the millions  of citizens as a human shield. The Germans were compelled to send their  Luftwaffe and reluctantly reduce the city to ruins. They called it the  Blitz.

This is the description that would now appear in the history books – if  the Germans had won the war.

Absurd? No more than the daily descriptions in our media, which are  being repeated ad nauseam: the Hamas terrorists use the inhabitants of  Gaza as "hostages" and exploit the women and children as "human  shields", they leave us no alternative but to carry out massive  bombardments, in which, to our deep sorrow, thousands of women, children  and unarmed men are killed and injured.

IN THIS WAR, as in any modern war, propaganda plays a major role. The  disparity between the forces, between the Israeli army – with its  airplanes, gunships, drones, warships, artillery and tanks – and the few  thousand lightly armed Hamas fighters, is one to a thousand, perhaps one  to a million. In the political arena the gap between them is even wider.  But in the propaganda war, the gap is almost infinite.

Almost all the Western media initially repeated the official Israeli  propaganda line. They almost entirely ignored the Palestinian side of  the story, not to mention the daily demonstrations of the Israeli peace  camp. The rationale of the Israeli government ("The state must defend  its citizens against the Qassam rockets") has been accepted as the whole  truth. The view from the other side, that the Qassams are a retaliation  for the siege that starves the one and a half million inhabitants of the  Gaza Strip, was not mentioned at all.

Only when the horrible scenes from Gaza started to appear on Western TV  screens, did world public opinion gradually begin to change.

True, Western and Israeli TV channels showed only a tiny fraction of the  dreadful events that appear 24 hours every day on Aljazeera’s Arabic  channel, but one picture of a dead baby in the arms of its terrified  father is more powerful than a thousand elegantly constructed sentences  from the Israeli army spokesman. And that is what is decisive, in the end.

War – every war – is the realm of lies. Whether called propaganda or  psychological warfare, everybody accepts that it is right to lie for  one’s country. Anyone who speaks the truth runs the risk of being  branded a traitor.

The trouble is that propaganda is most convincing for the propagandist  himself. And after you convince yourself that a lie is the truth and  falsification reality, you can no longer make rational decisions.

An example of this process surrounds the most shocking atrocity of this  war so far: the shelling of the UN Fakhura school in Jabaliya refugee camp.

Immediately after the incident became known throughout the world, the  army "revealed" that Hamas fighters had been firing mortars from near  the school entrance. As proof they released an aerial photo which indeed  showed the school and the mortar. But within a short time the official  army liar had to admit that the photo was more than a year old. In  brief: a falsification.

Later the official liar claimed that "our soldiers were shot at from  inside the school". Barely a day passed before the army had to admit to  UN personnel that that was a lie, too. Nobody had shot from inside the  school, no Hamas fighters were inside the school, which was full of  terrified refugees.

But the admission made hardly any difference anymore. By that time, the  Israeli public was completely convinced that "they shot from inside the  school", and TV announcers stated this as a simple fact.

So it went with the other atrocities. Every baby metamorphosed, in the  act of dying, into a Hamas terrorist. Every bombed mosque instantly  became a Hamas base, every apartment building an arms cache, every  school a terror command post, every civilian government building a  "symbol of Hamas rule". Thus the Israeli army retained its purity as the  "most moral army in the world".

THE TRUTH is that the atrocities are a direct result of the war plan.  This reflects the personality of Ehud Barak – a man whose way of  thinking and actions are clear evidence of what is called "moral  insanity", a sociopathic disorder.

The real aim (apart from gaining seats in the coming elections) is to  terminate the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In the imagination of the  planners, Hamas is an invader which has gained control of a foreign  country. The reality is, of course, entirely different.

The Hamas movement won the majority of the votes in the eminently  democratic elections that took place in the West Bank, East Jerusalem  and the Gaza Strip. It won because the Palestinians had come to the  conclusion that Fatah’s peaceful approach had gained precisely nothing  from Israel – neither a freeze of the settlements, nor release of the  prisoners, nor any significant steps toward ending the occupation and  creating the Palestinian state. Hamas is deeply rooted in the population  – not only as a resistance movement fighting the foreign occupier, like  the Irgun and the Stern Group in the past – but also as a political and  religious body that provides social, educational and medical services.

 From the point of view of the population, the Hamas fighters are not a  foreign body, but the sons of every family in the Strip and the other  Palestinian regions. They do not "hide behind the population", the  population views them as their only defenders.

Therefore, the whole operation is based on erroneous assumptions.  Turning life into living hell does not cause the population to rise up  against Hamas, but on the contrary, it unites behind Hamas and  reinforces its determination not to surrender. The population of  Leningrad did not rise up against Stalin, any more than the Londoners  rose up against Churchill.

He who gives the order for such a war with such methods in a densely  populated area knows that it will cause dreadful slaughter of civilians.  Apparently that did not touch him. Or he believed that "they will change  their ways" and "it will sear their consciousness", so that in future  they will not dare to resist Israel.

A top priority for the planners was the need to minimize casualties  among the soldiers, knowing that the mood of a large part of the pro-war  public would change if reports of such casualties came in. That is what  happened in Lebanon Wars I and II.

This consideration played an especially important role because the  entire war is a part of the election campaign. Ehud Barak, who gained in  the polls in the first days of the war, knew that his ratings would  collapse if pictures of dead soldiers filled the TV screens.

Therefore, a new doctrine was applied: to avoid losses among our  soldiers by the total destruction of everything in their path. The  planners were not only ready to kill 80 Palestinians to save one Israeli  soldier, as has happened, but also 800. The avoidance of casualties on  our side is the overriding commandment, which is causing record numbers  of civilian casualties on the other side.

That means the conscious choice of an especially cruel kind of warfare –  and that has been its Achilles heel.

A person without imagination, like Barak (his election slogan: "Not a  Nice Guy, but a Leader") cannot imagine how decent people around the  world react to actions like the killing of whole extended families, the  destruction of houses over the heads of their inhabitants, the rows of  boys and girls in white shrouds ready for burial, the reports about  people bleeding to death over days because ambulances are not allowed to  reach them, the killing of doctors and medics on their way to save  lives, the killing of UN drivers bringing in food. The pictures of the  hospitals, with the dead, the dying and the injured lying together on  the floor for lack of space, have shocked the world. No argument has any  force next to an image of a wounded little girl lying on the floor,  twisting with pain and crying out: "Mama! Mama!"

The planners thought that they could stop the world from seeing these  images by forcibly preventing press coverage. The Israeli journalists,  to their shame, agreed to be satisfied with the reports and photos  provided by the Army Spokesman, as if they were authentic news, while  they themselves remained miles away from the events. Foreign journalists  were not allowed in either, until they protested and were taken for  quick tours in selected and supervised groups. But in a modern war, such  a sterile manufactured view cannot completely exclude all others – the  cameras are inside the strip, in the middle of the hell, and cannot be  controlled. Aljazeera broadcasts the pictures around the clock and  reaches every home.

THE BATTLE for the TV screen is one of the decisive battles of the war.

Hundreds of millions of Arabs from Mauritania to Iraq, more than a  billion Muslims from Nigeria to Indonesia see the pictures and are  horrified. This has a strong impact on the war. Many of the viewers see  the rulers of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority as  collaborators with Israel in carrying out these atrocities against their  Palestinian brothers.

The security services of the Arab regimes are registering a dangerous  ferment among the peoples. Hosny Mubarak, the most exposed Arab leader  because of his closing of the Rafah crossing in the face of terrified  refugees, started to pressure the decision-makers in Washington, who  until that time had blocked all calls for a cease-fire. These began to  understand the menace to vital American interests in the Arab world and  suddenly changed their attitude – causing consternation among the  complacent Israeli diplomats.

People with moral insanity cannot really understand the motives of  normal people and must guess their reactions. "How many divisions has  the Pope?" Stalin sneered. "How many divisions have people of  conscience?" Ehud Barak may well be asking.

As it turns out, they do have some. Not numerous. Not very quick to  react. Not very strong and organized. But at a certain moment, when the  atrocities overflow and masses of protesters come together, that can  decide a war.

THE FAILURE to grasp the nature of Hamas has caused a failure to grasp  the predictable results. Not only is Israel unable to win the war, Hamas  cannot lose it.

Even if the Israeli army were to succeed in killing every Hamas fighter  to the last man, even then Hamas would win. The Hamas fighters would be  seen as the paragons of the Arab nation, the heroes of the Palestinian  people, models for emulation by every youngster in the Arab world. The  West Bank would fall into the hands of Hamas like a ripe fruit, Fatah  would drown in a sea of contempt, the Arab regimes would be threatened  with collapse.

If the war ends with Hamas still standing, bloodied but unvanquished, in  face of the mighty Israeli military machine, it will look like a  fantastic victory, a victory of mind over matter.

What will be seared into the consciousness of the world will be the  image of Israel as a blood-stained monster, ready at any moment to  commit war crimes and not prepared to abide by any moral restraints.  This will have severe consequences for our long-term future, our  standing in the world, our chance of achieving peace and quiet.

In the end, this war is a crime against ourselves too, a crime against  the State of Israel.

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