Opinion

Gantz Is Running – to The Hague

In Gaza destruction election videos, is Netanyahu contender subconsciously fulfilling the well-known saying that a criminal always returns to the scene of the crime?

File photo: Israeli military chief Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz attends a news conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 28, 2014.
Nir Elias/Reuters

What is missing with Benny Gantz, head of the Hosen L’Yisrael party and a serious contender for the premiership? He’s tall and handsome, with a winning smile, and even the gray in his hair speaks of a renewed mischief. So why does he insist on tying himself to the hell of Gaza in his election videos?

It could be that Gantz made a mistake, so it’s important to remind him that we’re talking about running for the prime minister’s seat, and not a mass murder’s competition that lands one a place at The Hague. Or is Gantz subconsciously fulfilling the well-known saying that a criminal always returns to the scene of the crime? But in Israeli terms, Gantz is not a criminal; he’s a hero. After all, he did no differently than his predecessors who were smarter and more careful.

>> 'Only the strong wins': Netanyahu rival Gantz touts Gaza destruction in new campaign ads | Watch ■ Fact-check: Did Netanyahu challenger Benny Gantz really kill 1,364 'terrorists' in Gaza?

On this festive occasion of counting dead Palestinians, I would like to whisper in Gantz’s ear that the monstrous ISIS is no more murderous or cruel than other regimes in the region and the world. Many other regimes have carried out ethnic cleansing and even genocide, and the world remained silent, because those regimes did not boast about their actions. They killed huge numbers of people, but in their propaganda videos they would display happy children playing in pastoral settings.

ISIS, on the other hand, chose to show off. That’s the only difference. And that’s how ISIS managed to unite the entire world against it. But with regard to the crimes of Saudi Arabia, which is ISIS’ spiritual mother, there has been silence. Only after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi did the world start to wake up – except for the United States, of course.

But why go so far afield? I’m a son of the village of Ma’alul in the Galilee, whose homes were destroyed in the events of 1948, and not even a photograph remains of its ruins or the ruins of some 500 other villages destroyed at the time. On the contrary, whoever visits Ma’alul today will get an amazing view; what was left of the village was covered by an abundance of greenery, reminiscent of European landscapes.

That’s why I allow myself to say to Gantz: The joy of destruction and killing should be kept deep inside. Yes, it’s hard to restrain oneself given these achievements, but now, instead of jurists breaking their heads over investigations and testimonies, all they have to do is play his videos before the judges of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

I don’t know if this propaganda line was Gantz’s idea, but it’s clear that his senior advisers looked into what the people want and built this monstrous strategy accordingly – to display the enormous destruction in Gaza, the ruins and the dead, who, for lack of time, were represented by a run of numbers. After all, if there were 1,364 killed, each killing can’t be presented separately. And the public eager for action is in a hurry to see the result.

But where does Gantz get the idea that those who were killed were terrorists? According to B’Tselem, 1,391 people – 63 percent of the 2,202 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces during Operation Protective Edge – were noncombatants, while 526, a quarter of those killed, were children. It seems that Gantz has adopted Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s definition of terrorist. Erdan’s definition includes Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint List. If so, even a newborn child can be regarded as an arch terrorist.

After these scenes of horror, reminiscent of the rubble in Europe after World War II, Gantz offers us dessert: He isn’t prepared to have a generation live here without hope. Really, General Gantz? As the number of dead continues to climb and the homes remain ground to a pulp, is there a grain of hope left? After such scenes, if people can just maintain their sanity, that would be an accomplishment.