What “Unimaginable Restraint” Looks Like For Israel

As the Israeli assault on Gaza enters its third week and the amount of civilian casualties keeps on rising relentlessly, Israel’s ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has some warm words for his country’s troops. Addressing the annual gala of America’s largest Christian-Zionist lobby group, the evangelical fundamentalists of Christians United for Israel, Dermer commended the IDF for its “unimaginable restraint”:

Some are shamelessly accusing Israel of genocide and would put us in the dock for war crimes. But the truth is that the Israeli Defense Forces should be given the Nobel Peace Prize … for fighting with unimaginable restraint. One day when the enemies of Israel are defeated and the moral idiots are silenced, people will look back and marvel at how the most threatened nation on earth never lost its nerve and always upheld its values.

Let’s take a second to digest that statement.

Apparently, for leading Israeli officials, dropping over 1,500 tons of explosives on an “open-air prison camp” half the size of New York City in two weeks’ time constitutes “unimaginable restraint.” Killing over 630 Palestinians, up to three quarters of them civilians and one third children, clearly constitutes unimaginable restraint. Destroying 18 health centers and 85 schools cannot be mistaken for anything but unimaginable restraint.

Killing two handicapped women while striking a home for the disabled – unimaginable restraint.

In fact, Israel’s restraint has been so thoroughly unimaginable that, in the words of one Norwegian doctor on the ground, it has drawn “lakes of blood” to Gaza’s hospitals — like when the bodies of 27 members of a single family were wheeled in after an Israeli bomb fell on their home while they were enjoying their traditional Ramadan feast. Of course, leveling an entire neighborhood to the ground and targeting the ambulances that try to evacuate the wounded — killing a paramedic inside — is another telltale sign of unimaginable restraint.

Or what about the IDF snipers who take aim at unarmed civilians as they search for surviving family members in their bombed-out homes, bravely shooting them as they lie wounded and eventually motionless on the ground? These Israeli heroes should surely be commended with the highest honors for the unimaginable restraint they display while repeatedly pulling the trigger on their helpless victims. Hell, with fathers forced to collect the various body parts of their dismembered children in plastic shopping bags, the inhabitants of Gaza should be absolutely relieved about — and truly grateful for — the unimaginable restraint Israel has shown so far.

With more than 100,000 Palestinians fleeing from their homes in absolute horror, Gaza still under total aerial, naval and land blockade, and Israel shelling a UN-run refugee shelter inside a school, there can be absolutely no doubt about it: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was completely right when hepraised the IDF as “the most humane and bravest army in the world.” After all, what other army uses tanks to wipe out 5-month-old babies, gunboats to exterminate young boys playing football on the beach, or remote-controlled drones to target women and children from the skies overhead? So humane. So brave.

Of course, if this is not enough of a reason to award the IDF next year’s Nobel Peace Prize, then killing members of the press surely should be! One can’t imagine the Norwegian Nobel Committee not being swayed by the two well-placed bullets that pierced through Al Jazeera’s 10th floor Gaza bureau, just a day after Foreign Minister Lieberman called for the station to be banned for airing ground-level reports on the unimaginable consequences of Israel’s unimaginable restraint on the lives of ordinary Palestinians.

The Israeli political establishment, too, has been showing unimaginable restraint in the face of Palestinian provocation, which has so far claimed the lives of two Israeli civilians — repeat: two Israeli civilians — one of whom died from a heart attack. Knesset member Ayelet Shaked displayed unimaginable restraint when she seemed to call for the killing of Palestinian mothers who give birth to “little snakes,” while Deputy Speaker Moshe Feiglin showed unimaginable restraint as he urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to cut off electricity to Gaza’s dialysis patients and when he called for the outright occupation and annexation of the Gaza Strip and the expulsion of its Palestinian inhabitants.

Luckily, the government’s international charm offensive has been bearing fruit, and Israeli society appears to have taken a cue from the unimaginable restraint displayed by its troops and leaders. When 17-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped, thrown into the back of a car, dragged into a forest, repeatedly beaten and kicked in the head, forced to drink petroleum and eventually burnt to death, Israeli citizens displayed a similar restraint as their soldiers and politicians — just as they did when they ran through the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv shouting “Death to Arabs!” and looking for random Arab-Israeli citizens to lynch or murder. Israel never lost its nerve.

Those who gather on top of the hill near Sderot each night in their camping chairs, clapping and cheering every time an explosion rocks another Gaza apartment block, should not be forgotten — they, too, are showing unimaginable restraint by applauding the deaths of innocent civilians. So brave. So humane. Like the true patriots who just beat up the pro-peace demonstrators in Tel Aviv and Haifa: did they not also display great restraint in settling their political differences in such democratic fashion? They must have learned something from Deputy Speaker Feiglin, who earlier kicked out three Arab representatives from the Knesset for daring to question the unimaginable restraint of the IDF.

How dare they criticize Israel’s heroes! Has the Jewish State not displayed enough restraint already? What about the police, did they not show unimaginable restraint when they savagely beat upMohammed Abu Khdeir’s 15-year-old cousin Tariq, a US citizen on a family visit in Jerusalem, just as they stand accused by the UN of torturing Palestinian children in prison and using them as human shields? Arresting scores of Arab pro-peace activists and dozens of minors for participating in (or simply standing too close to) anti-war and anti-brutality protests must surely qualify as unimaginable restraint as well.

Or what about the wise religious leaders who have been so exemplary in their display of restraint? Like Rabbi Bnei Akiva, Secretary General of the World Youth Movement, who called upon the government to turn the IDF into an “army of avengers which will not stop at 300 Philistine foreskins”? Or Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hebron, who just posted a Halakhic ruling stating that it is totally acceptable for Israelis to punish the civilian population of Gaza in any way possible, including “bomb[ing] the whole area … to exterminate the enemy,” giving the Minister of Defense explicit permission “to instruct even the destruction of Gaza.” A final solution to the Arab question? Israel always upheld its values.

The academic community has similarly played an exemplary role throughout the conflict. Just a few days ago, Dr Mordechai Kedar, a reputed Israeli expert of Arab literature and Palestinian culture, offered some basic insights — clearly obtained from a long and distinguished career of serious academic research — on how to show restraint in the face of Islamic terror: “The only thing that can deter terrorists,” the Professor stated on an Israeli radio program, “is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped.” Advocating rape as a weapon of war — if that does not win Israel a Nobel Peace Prize, then what will?

Now, with its bloodthirsty fanaticism on full display for all the world to see, any reasonable and well-informed observer should be left scratching their heads: if this is what “unimaginable restraint” looks like for Israeli officials, what kind of horrific atrocities would they be capable of unleashing if the country’s racist passions were allowed to run free…? The thought alone should make us shudder. The US and Europe urgently need to stop the monster they created — before it is too late.

Jerome Roos is a PhD researcher in International Political Economy at the European University Institute, and founding editor of ROAR Magazine.


  1. avatar
    Sanda Aronson July 25, 2014 8:45 pm 

    Interrupting my reading to ask a question and make a comment:
    (I like the point of view of the article. Very much.)
    Do you mean half the size of Manhattan rather than “half the size of NYC”?

    On language: the women in the “home for the disabled” who were killed were “disabled women”, not “handicapped”. Seems to be some kind of resistance to using the word disabled by some writers. (I’m disabled, so am sensitive about language usage around disability).

    I have done two pieces of art protesting my governments support of the Israeli murderous policy toward Palestinians: one piece was done on July 11, 2014 “#1 BULLY- U.S. SUPPORTS #2 BULLY-ISRAEL” re “collective punishment on people of Gaza” and includes the words “like sitting ducks”.

    My first piece of art posted on the same page, my Flickr public photostream page, was a Jan.3, 2009 xerographic, photo of, posted in 2012, I think, listing the four places the attack on Gaza suggested to me: Guernica, Warsaw, Fallujah, Gaza. I hope I have not done a Cassand_a, as the first three were pretty much decimated (Warsaw referring to the Jewish ghetto), Guernica and Fallujah (2004, for the latter, I think, by the U.S.).
    The art for Jan.3, 2009 is at the bottom of the page, because Flickr posts newest last. There are a total of 39 pieces of protest art. The new Gaza piece is in the second row.

  2. george patterson July 25, 2014 4:18 pm 

    Yes, Israel should not be blamed for protecting their own people. But it is morally indefensible to excuse their using disproportionate force that attacks civilians indiscriminately in a massive way. That is a war crime. They should protect their own people by withdrawing from Gaza and the West Bank, by ending the air land , and sea blockade of Gaza, by ending the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, by dismantling them, by ending the Annexation Wall in the West Bank, by stopping the demolition of homes in the West Bank, and by terminating the occupation of the West Bank. A similar analogy can be applied to the British who occupied my country, the US, during the time of the colonies and the American Revolution against British colonial rule in that the British forces had every right to defend themselves but without force against the Americans that meant that they should withdraw. Likewise, Israel should withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza, and cease its colonial domination of the Palestinians, thereby resulting in a permanent, viable two state solution. One more note, Israel’s air, land, and sea blockade of Gaza is a systematic and slow genocide. It is a violation of international humanitarian law. To set the record straight further, the firing of rockets into Israel indiscriminately against civilians by Hamas and other militant and extremist groups from Gaza is a war crime. They must cease doing it immediately.

  3. Romanus Njaka July 25, 2014 2:51 pm 

    Great piece Doc Roos, although one would have expected a more balanced perspective on this issue. We must not forget how this latest crisis began and it has always been the same. I think it is high time we all joined in persuading the Palestinians, especially the hardlined HAMAS, to understand the consequences whenever they expose their own people to such devastating punishments from the Israelis who by no means, should be blamed for protecting their own people.

    The killing of those three innocent Jewish boys must not be hastily forgotten as being the spark-off of this latest violence. Had HAMAS condemned the killings outright and apologized to the families of those boys, there wouldn’t be this fracas today. Instead they came out hailing such a dastardly act!!

    Peace must not be sought on one side only, it must be a two way project. Besides, the Palestinians know how Israeli response to such killings have always been in the past yet they keep soliciting its occurrence. Why? Even when they know how defensively incapacitated they are against a very sophisticated Israeli military?

    It is as if the leaders of HAMAS are more satisfied with international sympathies and accruing financial support, than the value of their own people’s lives, that using them as human shields has become a norm for continued relevance! Using a civilian home, in a civilian neighborhood, to fire rockets at a target with ferocious precision warheads ready to retaliate, is a foolhardy war game to play! And ofcourse the consequences are obvious. But it is unfortunate that you have chosen to highlight only those consequences without touching on what triggered them. No peace can come from such a skewed analysis.

    Come to think of it; who, on the Palestinian side is responsible for these rocket attacks on Israel? Obviously, they are not a conventional army which is why nobody knows whom they are! So how is Israel supposed to fight a ‘restrained’ battle with a faceless ‘freedom’ fighter cum ‘terrorist’? What would we say, if these rockets slam their intended targets and decimate Israelis in their numbers? These folks stock rockets and bombs in civilian homes, mosques, schools and even community centers from where they operate. How is Israel supposed to stop them?

    We must be careful with the onesided views we offer in this conflicts as it adds no value to efforts at bringing peace. Israel cannot evaporate from that region as most conservative Arabs believe and work to achieve. The only positive way forward is mellowing on the blame games and focusing on forging ahead with peace; and that must include calling HAMAS to order while persuading Israel to agree to a compromise deal that will lead to a two state solution.

    R. Njaka
    Fayetteville, NC

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