Local radio and television channels had a hard time defining Friday's events in Hebron. Israel Radio's Friday night news forced the term "Hebron massacre" into every possible sentence - "the organization assumed responsibility for the Hebron massacre;" "its leader lauded the men who performed the Hebron massacre;" "our UN ambassador strongly protested about the Hebron massacre;" "the Foreign Ministry has instructed that the Hebron massacre be referred to as `the Sabbath eve massacre.'" Perhaps the media were aligning themselves with the PR formula of the new Foreign Minister.
The tune changed the next morning, when the events were referred to as "the terrorist attack" - even "the fierce battle". The change of heart illustrates the dissonance in which we live. We must win the PR war - at least until we retaliate heavy-handedly - by stressing that we are the poor victims. However, what kind of message are we sending in this way, and what does this do to the IDF's mythical heroism and deterrent power?
And besides, what is this "PR" really all about? Let's say we exceed our wildest expectations and the entire world is truly convinced that every face-off we lose is an act of terror and a vile murder, and every dead soldier is a slain lamb. What do we expect will happen then? Do we truly believe that the world will urge the Palestinians and not us to withdraw from the occupied territories?
The war we have been fighting for more than two years has no name. This is no coincidence - it has no name because to us it has no goal or objective. Whatever the body count comes to on either side, the end result will be the same - a Palestinian state, as even Ariel Sharon himself admits).
This isn't even a "war" in the usual sense. This is a squabble to the death between two communities that are both becoming increasingly chaotic. Since the war has no name, goal or objective, concepts like "victory" or "defeat" are meaningless. In this war it is not even clear what should be called a "battle," and what the difference is between that and arbitrary retaliation, terror, murder, assassination, massacre or "preventive action."
This may be the only conflict in the world in which each side can only score points. The provisional victor is the one who suffers the highest number of casualties in each round, and proves to the world that it has failed more bitterly, and that its bereavement is more heart-wrenching than that which it had inflicted on the enemy. This victory holds until the "heavy-handed retaliation", which loses the avenger PR points, and so on and so forth.
This is how it was in Jenin and in Hebron, and how it will continue to be in this bloody cycle of murder, vengeance and retaliation. The reasoning of the Hamas chiefs as to why terror must continue - "because we cannot stop in the middle after all the martyrs and sacrifice we have made" - makes it abundantly clear that normal human values cannot be applied in this region. Not even age-old truths apply, like a la guerre comme a la guerre (with the war as with the war), or "There is no squabbling so violent as that between people who accepted an idea yesterday and those who will accept the same idea tomorrow."
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