My friend Eldad Yaniv happened to be in his apartment building’s stairwell yesterday when the siren went off. “Where in the world is there another place where they shoot at civilians?” one of the angry neighbors complained. In Gaza, Eldad replied. The neighbors responded: “Gaza? I wish 10 children would die there every day,” “They’re all born animals there, anyway,” and “To hell with the state of Tel Aviv.”
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The building, by the way, is in north Tel Aviv and the people my friend ran into experience a siren or two a day followed by an immediate, successful interception. Mission accomplished. The Israelis are morons again.
The Iron Dome developers have created a technological wonder and saved many lives. But on the strategic level their brilliant invention is not without its damaging effects. It enables Israelis to feel protected while continuing their life almost without a hitch. They can blow up their feelings of victimization and misery to new heights, while going on about their business relatively comfortably. They can be glued to the radio and television while at the same time remaining exempt from any soul searching or critical scrutiny of the repeated, unending cycle of hostility and violence.
Iron Dome is the Israeli governments’ doomsday weapon. It enables them to launch a “limited operation” once every two years, to refill the hatred and demonization reserves and renew the confidence of their obedient subjects, who only a day or two ago began to realize that their government was deceiving them. With one swipe the government has wiped away the reports of recession, the defense budget, the senior officials’ wages, police corruption, the rightists’ frenzied rampage and the incitement. And all for the bearable price of a limited operation.
What an outstanding device the geniuses at Rafael have developed for us. One that “gives the government breathing space” while the “nation is united” and “the home front displays restraint.”
Restraint? I’d like to see how Israelis would act and speak if just once an F-16 squadron swooped down on a residential neighborhood and dropped a ton of smart bombs on it. Unity? Not far from that stairwell, the tenants of a luxury high-rise refused to let the residents of the nearby Givat Amal neighborhood into their shelters when they knocked on their locked doors with their children.
Only hatred still serves as glue. Many dozens of Palestinians have already been killed and hundreds wounded in this limited, compassionate and surgical operation. A complete city, the most densely populated one in the world, is being pounded. After all, the editor of Israel Today demanded “to return Gaza to the Stone Age.”
The casualty numbers will continue to rise. But Israelis will continue to wallow in their exclusive misery and self-pity. It doesn’t appear in the technical specifications, but Iron Dome does not intercept only missiles. Apparently it intercepts free thought as well. It dooms its users to blindness, deafness and dementia. Has anyone asked himself how and why the “present round of escalation” began? Who escalated it? Whom and what does it serve? Why are rockets suddenly falling out of the sky?
To the government’s credit, it made it clear to its subjects immediately after the youths were abducted that it was waging an all-out war against Hamas and the Palestinian unity. Despite this, Israelis continue to recite obediently, at the government’s behest, that the war was intended “to bring the quiet back to the residents of the south.” That is a lie. You can’t bring back something that doesn’t exist.
The residents of the south have been living under fire for 14 years. So have Gaza’s beleaguered residents. If our leaders really want them to have quiet, they must strive courageously and creatively for an overall solution. They must install above us all the iron dome of a negotiated political settlement. But apparently it doesn’t pay to manufacture such an item.