Orwellian Language Expresses an Upside-down World

As in the Lebanon War, so in the Gaza war, the aims change on a daily basis. That is what happens when the war has no clear political aim in the first place.

Maybe I would have supported the policy of "an eye for an eye" had I not discovered that the new law does not restrict overdrafts in the eye and tooth bank. Therefore, before we tear out our enemies' eyes and pull out their teeth, we had better preserve the apple of our eye. This is not easy: Through the dust of the improved Qassam rocket in Ashkelon, it is hard to see Gilad; and with all the racket of the microphones, it is hard to hear his call from the depths. His father's voice has also been swallowed up.

Esther Wachsman, the mother of the late Nachshon Wachsman (an Israel Defense Forces soldier kidnapped and killed by Hamas in 1994), was right when she wrote this week that she no longer knows whether we are living in George Orwell's 1984, in Chelm or in Sodom. The bereaved mother did not take another possibility into account: Since doublespeak and triplespeak are not a contraindication of foolishness, and since foolishness is not a contraindication of wickedness, it is quite possible that we are living in a place that is a combination of Animal Farm and Chelm and Sodom.

By the time operation Summer Rains ends, the reason for it will have been completely forgotten. The longer the operation goes on, the more removed it becomes from its original purpose - to rescue Corporal Gilad Shalit. Now they are already talking about "a new order" or about "changing the strategic situation" or about "rehabilitating our deterrent power," and it is impossible not to recall with horror the "new order" in Lebanon 24 years ago: Ariel Sharon, may sleep be lifted from your eyelids - you have successors worthy of your name.

And as in the Lebanon War, so in the Gaza war, the aims change on a daily basis. That is what happens when the war has no clear political aim in the first place, and at the moment it is designed to save Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. The "new order" in the territories will look like the new order in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, and "rehabilitated deterrent power" will look like it does in North Korea and Iran.

Not only do the aims change constantly according to the mood at breakfast time, so do the "red lines": another red line is erased and already the new line becomes apparent, and immediately the old one is replaced by the new. Perhaps the defense minister has not noticed that the line was recently crossed on the threshold of his home: Qassam rockets on Sderot and Ashkelon are terror; shells on Beit Hanun and Beit Lahiya are terror; leaflets from heaven, which are meant to scare entire families and make them flee, are also terror. The attack on an IDF outpost is not terror, it is war.

The IDF, which is enveloping itself in self-pity, always receives the support it demands, whereas the residents of Sderot, like those of Kiryat Shmona in the past, are the ones who feel exposed. And it should have been the opposite, because civilians who are attacked from all sides are always right. Instead of accusing them of panic and hysteria, Shimon Peres should have accused his panicky colleagues in the cabinet and the clueless army commanders, and himself as well.

What can one expect from a government in which Peres serves as the educator of its cadets? This week, on the 50th anniversary of the Sinai Campaign, he once again regarded it with longing and described it as "the most successful of Israel's wars," because only 172 soldiers were killed. It was also the stupidest of wars, and those "only 172" were victims who died in vain: Its successes quickly turned sour, because the Sinai Campaign had no achievable political aim either: It was the last colonial-imperialistic twitching of Britain and France, and our first. If that was "the most successful of wars," and Grapes of Wrath (the 1996 bombardment of South Lebanon), from Peres' vineyard, was the most successful of operations, then we can imagine what the vice premier and acting minister of history thinks of the present operation: What was is what will be, and he who was, is at present and will be.

Orwellian language, which is upside-down and changeable, as usual expresses an upside-down world: "a new order" is worse than an old order, civilians are fighters at the front, soldiers are innocent and helpless civilians, and unsuccessful wars are successful and worthy of imitation. And a captive soldier, to whom our hearts go out, is also a pawn, who at the beginning of the game is placed in the front row of the chess board, and afterward is sacrificed in one move.