The Doomsday Weapon

Blind cooperation between the defense establishment and the media holds the promise of another round of fighting.

Every few weeks you have to sow fear, every few months you need to make threats, and once every year or two you have to have another little war. Blind cooperation between the defense establishment and the media holds the promise of another round of fighting. In that way, it's possible to escape some of the blame from the Goldstone report and wallow in the conditions we love best: being the victim, feeling threatened and uniting in the face of the great external danger allegedly in the offing.

The Israel Defense Forces will be above it all and cleanse itself of a series of suspicions and failures. This can also translate into huge budgets, glorified importance and influence for both the generals and the military commentators. It also creates good television ratings and sells sensationalist newspapers and advanced weapon systems. What's better than that for us?

The most recent cry of alarm: NASA in Palestine, Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in Gaza. Hamas launches an Iranian rocket - it must be Iranian - 60 kilometers. The head of Military Intelligence reported on it, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke immediately about missile systems, and the media immediately broke into its favorite war dance. "Three million citizens within range," "Confrontation in December," "Are you within range?" "Outskirts of Tel Aviv in danger," "Doomsday weapons" - frightening headlines accompanied by no less scary maps. "This is a new dimension confronting the IDF. It's not a simple matter. It's really a different story altogether. We should remember that there will be many casualties on the home front," roared the national baritone - the military commentator on television.

So again we are dealing with the grotesque - a strip of land under siege wallowing in its distress and ruins, with a pitiful paramilitary organization whose weapons arsenal would be an embarrassment to an IDF basic training camp. And it already proved its inadequacy in the last war. But the militants are portrayed to us as a superpower. That's how they create the scenario for the next war. That's how they empower not just the enemy, but first and foremost the IDF, which can beat the enemy.

The warmongering military commentators say war will come early, maybe even next month. The furious predictions of the commentators will again be a self-fulfilling prophesy. As with the horrible earlier incarnations, we can soon expect a series of "incidents" that are "heating up the front" - bombing a tunnel or shelling a weapons lab. A few helpless peasants who dare approach the security fence, rusty plows in hand, will be killed after being depicted as terrorists laying explosives, and the Palestinians will fire hollow Qassams in response, sowing fear in the Negev and creating pressure on the government to "do something."

"The top brass are not asking if there will be another military confrontation with Hamas, but when," according to the cliche about the next war. But of course the only important question is not asked: "Why?" rather than whether or when. This is the question that reverberates.

It would be funny if it were not so depressing. Even satire would not be as ridiculous as this constantly recurring reality. No lessons are learned. A thousand commissions of inquiry will not spare us this march of folly. Gaza is locked up and quiet, relatively speaking. True, it will not remain calm if the siege is not lifted and its residents are not allowed to enjoy humane living conditions. Those who want another criminal and unnecessary war in December are invited to join the celebration of insanity that is overcoming us, orchestrated by the barons of war - the generals and commentators.

Those who want to try to stop this vicious cycle are welcome to think of an alternative: the immediate lifting of the siege, the rehabilitation of Gaza, the release of Gilad Shalit at the stated price, an effort to bring Hamas into the peace process and an attempt to reach a long-term agreement with it. It's possible. It has never been tried, but there's a catch. What will the generals and commentators do if, God forbid, the calm in the south continues?