Israel's Chilled Corpses and Frozen Thinking

The terrorists' bodies can’t be handed over to the families because the corpses' chilling cold might ignite a fire that inflames the territories.

AFP

Chilled merchandise is stored in the police’s refrigeration rooms waiting for the go-ahead to be sold. There are buyers but the sellers are afraid. They will only deliver the goods under the table and only on condition that the merchandise doesn’t create a commotion.

Clearly the goods – the bodies of Palestinian attackers – require a funeral, and funerals are attended by mourners filled with emotion, railing against Israel and those who in Israeli parlance “neutralized” the attackers. The outbursts foment further waves of anger and hatred, and all this could disturb the serene relations that would continue uninterrupted if it weren’t for the bodies.

How can this reasoning be hidden from the public? The Israeli government says Palestinian incitement is the only cause of the Palestinian revolt, the lone-wolf attacks. It’s as if the incitement had no background or historical context.

It isn’t based on “truth” or “facts.” It’s an act of nature, just as the attacks by Palestinians before they became bodies had no rational explanation.

That’s just the way it is. Palestinians just got up one morning and, contrary to any prognostication, started killing Jews. They are lone wolves, usually not members of an organization, and they don’t announce in advance where and when they’ll attack.

No model applies to them. No description fits their deeds: a lone-wolf intifada, an intifada reflecting a certain mood, a stabbing intifada, or however we dub this wild behavior. Because without defining it, we can’t craft a plan of action or describe reality.

It’s a good thing the deus ex machina hasn’t disappointed this time either. Once again, incitement has been trotted out as an explanation for every phenomenon. That’s what’s motivating the terrorists, what’s halting the peace talks and depriving Israel of a negotiating partner.

And most importantly, incitement can obscure the existence of the occupation and neutralize the party to blame. After all, it’s not the occupation’s fault, it’s the incitement’s fault.

That’s what supports the twisted ironclad logic that has the power to surgically pinpoint the sources of incitement. Once, a long time before the first intifada began in 1987, it was Palestinian flags or slogans spray-painted on walls. In those days too the military administration viewed these dangerous displays as a strategic threat.

Children were forced to climb electricity poles to remove the flags, and the elderly were pulled from their homes in the middle of the night to erase the slogans. The incitement ended, but the occupation continued as usual – until the second intifada, which of course was also based on incitement rather than being a revolt against the occupation.

Now social media are to blame for everything. If it were only possible to shut down the servers and wipe out the cellphone networks, if it were only possible to bleep out every comment that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas makes on the occupation or the settlements, the Palestinians would never have thought the situation was that bad.

Fortunately, Israel now possesses the ultimate weapon: cold bodies, bodies that can’t be handed over to the families because the bodies’ chilling cold might ignite a fire that inflames the territories.

The Palestinians, after all, accept the killing of the attackers with understanding. The death of a shahid, a martyr, is part of their culture, but bodies? That’s something else. That provides a means to apply pressure.

Of course, the security asset in the refrigerator overshadows any ethical consideration. As usual, any immoral act comes with an irresistible security explanation, because Hamas and Hezbollah have to be dealt with using their own methods.

The inciters have to be told that when you trade in corpses you have to stick to the rules of the game: body for body, or body for quiet, whichever’s considered more valuable. That’s the only language the Palestinians understand. It’s also a language that Israel speaks fluently.