Nothing Will Come of Israel’s Quiet

The dead died and the killers killed in Gaza only to ensure another brief interlude of quiet for Israelis.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Enjoying the WiFi in sunny Rothschild Street.
Enjoying the WiFi in sunny Rothschild Street. Credit: Kfir Sivan
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The Tel Aviv Port was bustling again this weekend. A boisterous Indian food festival took place in the farmer’s market and hordes of screaming children were riding the merry-go-round — a retro model with old-fashioned cars as the speakers blasted songs from yesteryear. Thousands of Israelis filled the eateries, went shopping for trifles and strolled to the sound of breaking waves. Did a war really just happen?

We still haven’t reached an agreement, yet that agreement is already behind us. The papers are eking out one more round of stories on courage, and in the homes of the bereaved parents the grief is there to stay. The wounded and shock victims are recovering and the south is still apprehensive, but it's still summer and Israel is merry again.

The sirens are silent, the experts have gone and the nonsense is back. Israel is back to its bubble. Protective Edge, what was that? Was that before Pillar of Defense or after Summer Rains?

A momentary sense of oppression and fear has dissipated. After all, what did Israel seek? Quiet. What else could it ask for? One or two more years of denial, repression, illusion and living a lie — but mainly inaction.

This is what the masses clamored for in the biggest protest during the war — for quiet for the south. Quiet. Simply quiet. Who could be for terror and against quiet? “Send me quiet in a box, from a distant land,” wrote the poet Yona Wallach.

This must be Israelis' most self-righteous and revolting demand. They want quiet and the hell with the surrounding noise and its causes. Let Gaza suffocate and the West Bank bow its head, as long as we have quiet.

The victims didn’t die for nothing; they died for the benefit of our quiet. The rubble didn’t just pile up, it served the goal of achieving quiet. The lives of dozens of soldiers and 2,000 Palestinians were sacrificed to the phony quiet. International condemnation, fissures in our democracy, blows to our economy, thousands maimed, hundreds of thousands of homeless, the hatred over there — all in the service of Israel’s quiet.

“Silence is filth – sacrifice blood and spirit for the hidden glory,” wrote right-wing leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky in that song before the state was established.

This was a war of choice. This was obvious when Israel launched its wild hunt for Hamas men in the West Bank after the kidnapping and murder of the three teenagers. It was a war of choice fought for nothing, as is evident now.

Aside from the destruction of the tunnels, which were discovered by surprise and whose threat has been exaggerated, the war will bring no benefit to Israel. Nothing. The dead died and the killers killed only to ensure another brief interlude of quiet for Israelis. This is the price they paid, and Gaza paid a thousand times more just so Israelis could enjoy themselves at the Tel Aviv Port.

If the border crossings had been opened and prisoners released before the first shot was fired, everything might have been avoided. But Israel, which always proves that it only understands force, is only ready for small concessions after the fighting. It only lets violent organizations chalk up achievements. The negotiations with Hamas are more serious than any held with the Palestinian Authority, and Israel has already given Hamas more than it ever gave PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel only wants quiet so it can bury its head in the sand for a few more years. Quiet in Israel during a siege of Gaza? There’s no such thing. During the next quiet period, Israel once again won't lift a finger. Gaza will be forgotten and the West Bank will disappear, both the siege and the occupation. When the rockets start falling again in a year or two, Israel will awaken and complain bitterly.

How dare they? How dare they do this to us again? What gall to interrupt us just when we’re strolling in the port, which Israel has and Gaza will never have. This is Israel’s only goal – to maintain the present situation and sanctify the quiet. The Palestinians can go to hell. Don’t disturb Sleeping Beauty during her afternoon nap, or ever for that matter.

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