The Real Danger to Israel


Israel is facing what many fear could be a point of no return. It must now decide which is the greater danger to its existence: the crude rockets fired from Gaza and immobilized by Israel’s Iron Dome, or the right-wing thugs running through the streets shouting “death to the Arabs” and beating up Israeli Palestinians and Jews protesting Israel’s deplorable and merciless assault on Gaza. Israel is fast slipping into a kind of neo-fascism. Is this what we Jews have learned from our own dreadful experience at the hands of the Nazi fascists, to become like them? We Jews, who suffered so mercilessly under fascism, ought to be especially alert to the danger signs of this menace stalking Israel. But are we?
These are the facts: Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank is illegal under international law. Period. Full stop. And Israel’s seven-year siege of Gaza is simply occupation by another name. Israel completely controls Gaza from the land, sea, and air, making it the world’s largest outdoor prison. The blockade is responsible for devastating the economy and infrastructure of Gaza’s 1.8 million people who have survived through sheer tenacity under unbearable living conditions. Throughout its illegal blockade, Israel has placed severe limits on critical food and medical supplies – measures that have resulted in numerous deaths and injuries, as well as malnutrition, disease, and other severe health risks – all of which have gone unreported in the mainstream media.
People under occupation have a right to resist and fight back. Whether or not one condemns or approves of Hamas’s rocket fire, one thing is clear: Israel is not really defending itself from rockets, it is instead defending its self-declared right to swallow up more and more Palestinian land and empty it of more and more Palestinians. If Israel were serious about peace, it would have welcomed the formation of a unity government between Fatah and Hamas with which it could have entered into negotiations. If Israel were serious about peace, it would have long ago accepted the Arab peace initiative of 2002, which the Arab League endorsed, and would have normalized relations between Israel and the entire Arab world. Even Israel’s so-called archenemy Iran endorsed the peace initiative, but Israel rejected it out of hand without even entering into further negotiations regarding the proposal.

Israel’s war on Gaza is a high-tech slaughter, an act of collective punishment imposed upon a civilian population, targeting hospitals, schools, homes, mosques, power stations, UN designated refugee shelters, and even kids playing soccer on the beach. There is no safe place in Gaza. These acts are the work of a nation in the grip of madness. They are war crimes, pure and simple. Moreover, despite the wanton destruction Israel is reigning down on Gaza’s civilians, Netanyahu has the chutzpa to proclaim, “We’re using our missile defense to protect our civilians and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.” Netanyahu has no shame. But he will never be able to cover up the barbarity and callousness of Israel’s crimes with his clever play on words. And the world is beginning to see this.
When Netanyahu said recently that there would be no Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as long as he is Prime Minister, he was merely stating a fundamental tenet of his Likud party publicly. Now it should be clear to all that the so-called peace process was always a cynical charade to hide Israel’s true intentions – a Greater Israel comprising the entirety of historic Palestine.
If Israel is under the mistaken belief the Palestinians will stop resisting their occupation, it has learned nothing from history. Nothing motivates people more than the urge for freedom and dignity. If Israel is to survive and if there is ever to be peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and the larger Arab world, Israel must free itself from the death grip of Zionism which has infected it with intolerance, racism, xenophobia, and a hyper nationalism that is a threat to peace and a far worse enemy than any rockets from Gaza could ever be.
The unconditional financial, military, and diplomatic support the U.S. gives Israel has helped turn it into a pariah state acting with blind cruelty and lawless impunity. In the end, this is no gift to Israel and it will only further inflame anti-American and anti-Jewish sentiment around the world.
Editor’s Note from Rabbi Michael Lerner: Many of us share David Glick’s righteous indignation at what Israel is doing in Gaza and his fear that Israel is drifting toward self-destructive racism toward its own Palestinian minority within the pre-67 borders of Israel. What is lacking is some compassion for the people and their experience, and hence any plausible way that coercion from outside is going to change rather than accelerate the dynamics Glick rightly opposes. What are the psychological interventions that might be taken to loosen the Israeli public’s increasing attraction to reactionary forms of nationalism in the face of mistaken perceptions that Israel’s existence is in danger? Does calling them neo-fascists make it easier or harder for Israelis and their supporters around the world (including, according to a CNN poll last week, 57% of the American public) to consider some other path besides the one that their leaders have shown them? It is this kind of discussion, rather than the labeling of a whole group of people, that seems more helpful for those of us concerned not only with “being right and righteous” but also of healing and transforming the realities we find so hurtful and destructive?
David Glick is a psychotherapist and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace. His writings have appeared in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and in Tikkun Magazine online. On his mother’s side, he is the grandson of a revered rabbi; and on his father’s side, he is the nephew of someone who helped thousands of Jews leave Germany during 1937-38 who otherwise would have perished in the Holocaust.

18 thoughts on “The Real Danger to Israel

  1. You seem to have left out the 30+ tunnels leading into Israel. Just an FYI. Israel does not occupy Gaza, Hamas does. Hamas seized power in Gaza after Israel’s withdraw and turned it into a lunch pad.

    • Simon,
      According to international law as well as according to the United Nations, Israel is the occupying power in Gaza. Israel controls its borders, its sea, and air space as well as controlling all movement to and from Gaza (apart from Rafah on the southern border which is controlled by Egypt).

      • I don’t think you know you law that well. In order to be an occupying power, Israel would be governing it. That is not the case. Where do people come up wit these things?

    • Simon,
      Before writing about Israel and showing the world how little you know, you should learn a little history about that country.
      You wrote: “No one gave them the green light to seize control of Gaza…”
      Actually, “confidential documents, originating from the US State Department, would prove that the United States collaborated with the Palestinian Authority and Israel to attempt the violent overthrow of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and that Hamas pre-empted the coup.” Wikipedia, “Battle of Gaza”

  2. You mean like the tunnels the Jews built from the Warsaw Ghetto? You mean supply tunnels? Freedom fighter tunnels?

  3. It seems as though Simon has a very short memory, or maybe he does not realize that the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had hundreds of tunnels. When you occupy a people, throw them into a ghetto/concentration camp, they are going to need to find other avenues to get supplies in and out. There is no evidence that the Palestinian resistance had 30 tunnels into Israel, although I’m sure they had some. More than 1000 tunnels were built between Gaza and Egypt, and, like the Jews of Warsaw, they were bringing animals through them for food.
    Hamas never seized power. It was rightfully elected. Unfortunately, Israel and the West have chosen not to honor the people’s will and have decided to demonize a resistance group. Or, Simon, are you telling us that the Palestinians have no right to resist the brutal and quite evil occupation of Palestine? All international bodies (except, of course, the rightwing nut jobs spoken of here) recognize that Gaza is still occupied by land, sea and air.

    • Oh Greta, that is an ill informed and insulting response. The Warsaw Ghetto was a waiting rom for a death camp[. gas chamber were the destinations of the ghetto. IN order to achieve shock value, people like you love to bring up the Warsaw Ghetto.
      Butting moving on to Hamas. They won control of parliament in the PA election, which means sharing power with Fatah’s President Abbas. No one gave the the grin light to seize control of Gaza and tun it into a rocket launching pad
      Regarding he tunnels, they were not built to acquire food and other supplies. They were using them i launch attacks inside of Israel. An overly transition after withdraw would her resulted in open borders. And yes, there is lots of space to grow crops. Gaza used to have a productive agriculture sector tat attracted Israeli shoppers.
      Please educate yourself. And also,since you are concerned with victims, I want you remind you of he atrocities in Syria where 200,000 have been killed

      • The Gaza siege is designed to exterminate, weaken ,deplete,destroy the Palestinians in Gaza slowly in hope the world would not notice. Israel, if learned anything from the Nazis, is not to do crimes in the open like they did, but never the less do them in a more covert way were the rest of the world can’t Notice.That is not happening, and the world sees it. Israel by its admission wanted to keep Gazas Palestinians on a diet, were they don’t die but end up wishing to die for the condition that Israel imposed on them. Israel intentionally is chocking the economy of the Palestinians and killing their capability to self sustain, and that is done purposely . You are not fooling any one,by your denial,Israel does not have a tremendous love for the Palestinians nor their existence . This is clearly stated by its leaders, actions and policies. Why does Israel has all the right in the world to defend its people and the Palestinians don’t? I believe if your neighbors next doors had some thugs attack their home to steal their belonging and hurt them, you would have no sympathy for the thugs, if the owner of the house hit them with a baseball bat that he had in his closet? You probably say; he was a hero! You need to use the same set of morales in judging , get rid of your prejudice and hate for the Palestinians and speak as a human not a biased Israeli supporter. You will make more sense then. The sense of justice has to be implemented for all so we can have peace.

      • Since it has been raised on this forum, the question of how the Warsaw ghetto uprising is connected to the war in Gaza should be confronted.
        There are two central concepts that Israelis have about the war in Gaza:
        (a) That the IDF is the most moral army in the world is proved by its unequalled care in trying to limit civilian casualties as much as possible.
        (b) Hamas is fundamentally despicable and deadly to its own people since it hides its weapons inside civilian buildings such homes, schools, hospitals and mosques.
        Let’s analyze these two concepts by taking a quick look at one of the most potent symbols of Israel as a home for the Jews. The Warsaw Ghetto uprising is the scene of the heroic struggle of the Jews to fight back against the Nazi war machine bent upon destroying European Jewry to the last living soul. Even if it the uprising was doomed from the start, its heroic meaning is fundamental in the way Israel sees itself in the world. In other words, “Never Again!”
        Now, if we look at the Warsaw uprising we plainly see that the partisans had to hide their weapons and their people inside homes, schools, etc. because there was no other way to act. There was no reason to separate partisan from civilian: They were one and the same. Even though the active armed partisans were always a small number compared to the civilian non-fighters, they were very much (although not unanimously) supported by them.
        By the second day after IDF moved into Gaza, it was clear that Hamas was well prepared for urban warfare and was beginning to cause the IDF surprisingly heavy casualties. I remember an Israeli officer saying on the evening news that the army was taken aback by this, but that it was quickly learning how to deal with the new situation.
        I immediately and instinctively knew what he meant. In order to grasp what the change was, let’s go back to the Warsaw Ghetto, because something very similar happened to the Germans. At first, they were completely surprised by the partisan’s guerilla tactics of popping up and fighting from the rubble of half destroyed buildings, underground sewers etc.
        It also took the Germans a day or so to understand how to combat these tactics. Since the Germans had overwhelming military superiority, their counterattack was based on, not killing the individual partisan fighter, but by massively destroying every building and every neighborhood till everything was leveled to the ground. Any civilian left in that area was doomed, and even the partisans had nowhere to hide and nowhere to fight from. They could only surrender or escape down the sewers.
        For the Germans, the partisans were “terrorists” since they endangered German war goals as well as civilian “stability” in the occupied countries. Civilians killed was the price to be paid by the enemy for daring to contest German control.
        So there you have it. How sad it is that the IDF has become a mirror image of our worst enemies, while Hamas echoes our greatest national heroes.

        • The Warsaw uprising was started by the remaining residents of the ghetto. Bu them most of the Jews had been stuffed into train cars and sent to death camps. Word came back of what was happening in the death camps and there was nothing left to do. I am sorry if you compare this to Gaza, that could her been a successful region after withdraw. Sorry to read this intellectually dishonest comparison,

        • Amazing editorial yesterday from the Haaretz newspaper.
          The Israeli army relies too much on air force, neglects ground forces, a failure most prominent in handling of Hamas’ tunnels. Haaretz Editorial | Aug. 1, 2014
          Absent high-quality intelligence and battle plans, the IDF chose the Operation Cast Lead solution – massive fire at populated zones, with major harm to civilians. The number of Palestinian dead has reached 1,400, most of them civilians. Hundreds of thousands have become refugees; many homes have been destroyed….
          Despite the cloak of legal approval with which the army covers itself, it is hard to be persuaded that a real effort has been made to limit harm to the innocent, to maintain the morality of the fighting, and to avoid deepening the hatred of our neighbors, next to whom we will have to live when the weapons fall silent….
          “massive fire at populated zones”, “cloak of legal approval”, etc. Proves the the point I made.

        • Haaretz newspapaer published an amazing editorial yesterday. It reads, in part:
          “The Israeli army relies too much on air force, neglects ground forces, a failure most prominent in handling of Hamas’ tunnels. Haaretz Editorial | Aug. 1, 2014”
          “Absent high-quality intelligence and battle plans, the IDF chose the Operation Cast Lead solution – massive fire at populated zones, with major harm to civilians. The number of Palestinian dead has reached 1,400, most of them civilians. Hundreds of thousands have become refugees; many homes have been destroyed.”
          “Despite the cloak of legal approval with which the army covers itself, it is hard to be persuaded that a real effort has been made to limit harm to the innocent, to maintain the morality of the fighting, and to avoid deepening the hatred of our neighbors, next to whom we will have to live when the weapons fall silent.”
          “massive fire at populated areas with major harm to civilians”, “Despite the cloak of legal approval… [no] real effort to limit harm to civilians”, etc., etc.
          Proves my point: Gaza = Warsaw

  4. Response to Rabbi Lerner:
    I believe my good friend Rabbi Michael misunderstands what I wrote in some important ways. First, I am not simply writing from a place of righteous indignation at Israel. Rather I am writing from a place of deep sorrow for the victims of the carnage that is being visited upon Gaza. To be candid, the immense power differential between Israel and the Palestinians and the vastly disproportionate use of force and loss of life make it difficult for me to be equally compassionate toward both peoples. Mea Culpa. But that does not mean I lack compassion and concern for Israelis. I would hope it is understood that my worry about the unchecked right-wing forces in Israel and the danger of a slide into some kind of neofascism is both a concern for the well-being of Israel as well as that of the Palestinian people who would bear the lion’s share of that catastrophe..
    One disagreement between the Rabbi and myself is that I believe he errs in treating what is at bottom a political problem as if it were a psychological one. In that we are both psychologists, I am of course sympathetic to the need to bring as much psychological understanding to the issue as is helpful. But one can err in this regard as well. Rabbi Michael asks what “psychological interventions” might be taken to diminish the attraction of Israelis to reactionary forms of nationalism. That is a good question. But I would contend that the unconditional financial, military and diplomatic support Israel receives from the world’s super power is the equivalent of a psychological intervention intended to make Israel feel safe and protected and that its fears are understood. Yet it is never enough. For many years the American Jewish community has lavished an abundance of care, support, and understanding on Israel as well. I would contend that the problem is that this is having the reverse effect. It is supporting a sense of entitlement and a feeling that Israel is uniquely special and beyond any blame or responsibility for its part in the conflict with the Palestinians. I believe this has had a corrosive and unhealthy effect on a country we both care about.
    Finally, I believe if there is to be a psychological intervention, it has to come in the form of an intervention in the Israeli school system itself which systematically inculcates a sense of insecurity, fear, and hatred of the other from the earliest age. Later on students are taken on trips to the death camps. Then the military recruits are sworn in at Masada with the psychological weight of all that entails. What is the message of all of this. That the world hates us, that we must stand alone, and that we must be ever vigilant and ruthless in protecting ourselves. Look if you give a gun to someone who has been saturated with fear and hatred in what is essentially a system of indoctrination, what would one expect except the tragedy that is unfolding before our very eyes.
    David Glick

    • David and rabbi Michael: I share your anguish about the tragic loss if lives. Though as always we diverge on putting all of this on Israel. There is plenty of incitement in Palestinian schools teaching children to be shahid etc. I think it’s a false choice to focus on internal issues or external threats as David suggests. I think both are needed in both societies. I’ve also noticed that there is polarization among those who believe Hamas are freedom fighters and those who believe their charter that unequivocally calls for destruction of Israel and all Jews. No easy answers in this complex dilemma for both people’s.

  5. Rachel Eryn: I think the innocent children of Gaza–hundreds of whom are dead and maimed from Israel’s merciless assault on Gaza, and the rest of whom are terrorized and traumatized with no safe place to hide–deserve more than your anguish which regrettably is of little purchase under the circumstance. Not that long ago the world turned a deaf ear to our unspeakable suffering and we must not do the same to theirs. If only you could point to something concrete Israel has actually done, not just said but done, to demonstrate its absolute commitment to ending the occupation which is the most immediate source of the hostilities.

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