Text size

The face-off with our real arch rival - the Austrian soccer team - may have pushed all of last week's visions of war to the sidelines of the Israeli consciousness. We gladly forgot the pictures that once again made Israel look like a monster in the eyes of the world (but never in our own eyes): Israeli tanks crushing private cars in Bethlehem; soldiers barging into a home and "setting up a stronghold" between the children's room and the refrigerator; an armored vehicle raging through the streets of a city, wreaking havoc with no apparent reason; soldiers stretched out on a hotel bed wearing muddy boots and big smiles; and bulldozers uprooting homes, gardens, greenhouses, orchards.

Even if "the operation" - if this spew of anger can be called such - was grounded in some sort of military logic, it seems that not even the greatest anti-Israel director could have come up with such crude displays of vandal occupation. Taking a city and putting it under siege is one thing; but why vandalize cars and other property in the process? Setting up a military post may be borderline understandable, but why in the living room of an elderly couple? And why accompanied by photographers? And why laugh?

The "operation" began with an announcement by the IDF spokesman that, in itself, sounded like a parody on the American announcement regarding its ground assault in Afghanistan, and ended with the head of military intelligence saying that there would be many more terror attacks from now on.

So what, pray tell, was achieved? Granted, "in war as in war," but what was the object of the battle to begin with?

"The tenants moved out, and the paratroopers moved in," a TV reporter waxed poetically in one of those morale-boosting pieces that haven't changed in the last 50 years, with not a single insightful analysis or open-minded criticism. What does "moved out" mean? Where did "they move" to?

It's difficult to decide which is tougher, or too easy, to digest - the sights themselves, or the self-righteous explanations by reporters and commanders on the scene. Incidentally, with the coverage they have been giving, the reporters seem to have fully morphed with the military commanders: "A few civilians were killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time;" "The youthful enthusiasm of these soldiers is invincible;" "Finally, battle - as long as we're here, we may as well enjoy it;" "Regretfully, there are civilian casualties. I deeply, deeply regret it," one officer said, in line with the Israeli tradition of "shooting and crying" - as if reciting this mantra turns the fact that civilians were hurt into some great ethical feat.

The indifference with which we move in and out of all-out wars - with all our might, bashing our heads up against the wall - is astonishing. But this is the same violent indifference to which we have grown accustomed on the roads and in sadism against women, "who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Where the Palestinians are concerned, our obtuseness is multiplied, because, after all, it's not our concern. Leave all that stuff to reporters well-versed in such matters. Although, of course, we all deeply, deeply regret it.