At this point at which attention is focused on the Israeli air strikes on targets in Syria, the usual protests against occupation seem irrelevant. What does it matter if some Palestinian farmers have been denied access to this or that field by the army or settlers, when Israel’s security is at stake? What does it matter if this or that building has been demolished by Israeli occupation forces in this or that Area C West Bank village when the murderous chaos in Syria threatens to flow over into Israel? What does it matter that this or that house in the East Jerusalem area of Sheikh Jarrah has been taken over by right-wing Jewish settlers when the real question is whether Hezbollah will possess Fateh-110 missiles , Israel’s sworn arch-enemy? Why make a headline report about an incident (on the same day as the air strike) near Ramallah, where 12 Palestinians were injured in clashes with settlers and soldiers who burst into Ras Karkar village? Doesn’t it seem hopelessly naïve for Israeli peace activists to be demonstrating about some uprooted olive groves and the route of the Separation Barrier in the West Bank when, as they really should have understood from kindergarten, Israel is a small country surrounded by enemies, and without the Israeli Defence Forces, would have been wiped off the map years ago?
And so, we sensible Israelis should put in the proper context the growing tension in the West Bank and Gaza that was evident last week, including the murder of Israeli settler Evyatar Burovsky (the first Israeli fatality on the West bank since September 2011), the subsequent rioting of settlers under the noses (and sometimes protection) of the Israeli security forces, the arrests of terrified Palestinian children in Hebron for alleged stone-throwing by Israeli troops (who threw a Swedish observer into the mix of arrests for good measure). Mairav Zonszein wrote on the +972 blog in relation to those and other events that “violence is a cruel reminder of a reality that is neither calm nor stable,” and in light of the Israeli strikes on Syria we should (if we are sensible) misunderstand her message to mean that of course “the situation” (as Israelis refer to our complicated reality) is not ever really calm, other than the calm brought to us by our security forces, the Rock of Israel. Another disturbance in the calm last week was the first Israeli targeted killing of an alleged Global Jihad militant, Haitham Ziad Ibrahim Sahali, in Gaza, since last November’s “Pillar of Cloud,” on the grounds that he was involved in the recent rocket attack on Eilat. So, you see, it’s really the same pattern that always repeats itself: they attack us and we are forced to defend ourselves. It can hardly be surprising that there was only a lukewarm Israeli response to the Arab League’s hint at softening the terms of its 2002 peace plan in a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry, on April 30th 2013. Only naïve peaceniks (and opposition politicians hoping for a headline) concern themselves with such hypothetical matters, when Israeli common sense focuses on the serious threats that come from outside. Maybe tomorrow there will be time for peace; now (a long now) it’s time for war.
At a time like this, a sensible Israeli should watch Channel 2 news, taking a cue from the ever serious looking anchor Yonit Levi to take utterly seriously the very important and wise things that the authoritative men at her side, the security commentators Ehud Ya’ari and Ronnie Daniel are telling us. They know, after all, what the guardians of our security cannot tell us in detail just yet, about how they are defending us. We should pay close attention, so that we understand why it is very unlikely that either the Syrian regime or its Hezbollah ally will retaliate, why it is important to prevent these particular arms from falling into the hands of Hezbollah (on top of all the other rockets they have), how carefully calculated each Israeli military strike is, what’s going on with the Turks, the Russians, the Americans, and which precise message the air strikes send and to whom (because simply texting wouldn’t possibly communicate effectively). We should be reassured that the Home Front Command has issued no special instructions and Prime Minister Netanyahu has set off for China as planned, though local government officials in the north of the country are making sure that they are ready just in case. The question we can ask ourselves (so long as we remain sensible and think first and foremost about security), as Amos Harel puts it in Ha’aretz, is whether the Syrians will respond, in which case, the government might have some explaining to do. Perhaps, despite the clarifications on Channel 2 and other Israeli media, someone in Syria or Lebanon has misunderstood the message (but surely they too hang on every word of Israeli TV news?). And if the situation does heat up, Ya’ari and Daniel will be reinforced in the studio by other authoritative and serious men in suits or leather jackets whose security expertise will protect us from confusion and questioning.
Certainly, because we’re sensible and put security before and above all other issues, we shouldn’t ask the kind of questions that Larry Derfner suggests in his +972 blog, in which he points out that nobody in Israel is asking too many questions or protesting because no missiles have stated falling on Israel from either Lebanon or Syria. Nobody asks too closely which ‘game’ the weapons that Israeli attacks targeted would change, so Derfner tells us (though he lacks the proper qualifications of the security experts):
The game of Israeli military superiority, of the Israeli “qualitative edge.” The rules of this game are that Israel continually flies spy planes over Lebanon, bombs Syria now, and may bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities later, secure in its belief that the targets can’t do much in return.
The key question we shouldn’t ask is why is Israel provoking a war? As we know, we sensible Israelis, that question doesn’t make sense, because we don’t provoke wars, they (Syrians, Hezbollah, Global Jihadists) do. Only the naïve peaceniks who protest the trivial side-effects of the occupation we have to sustain because they don’t want peace would take seriously the sort of polemic expressed by Secretary-General of Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Mustafa Barghouti. In response to the violence at Ras Karkar he stated that the ongoing and escalating attacks carried out by the settlers are “a repetition of what Zionist gangs did in Palestine, and the massacres they committed in 1947 and 1948”. It’s as if, according to some twisted logic, we sensible Israelis who know that security matters above all else have some responsibility for our lack of security, as if reliance on armed force to secure ourselves, in the fields and villages of Palestine in 1948 or the skies above Damascus in 2013, has not brought us security, but continued insecurity. To be so naïve as to ask questions about the false security of superior armed might would be suggest that the naïve are those who believe in the fantasy of security without peace.