An Israeli friend alerted me this afternoon:
…The Israeli news now talk about “heavy fire exchanges” which in previous conflicts has usually been codeword for “be prepared to hear of more IDF casualties soon.”
Sure enough, by early this evening he reported to me a major self-inflicted IDF disaster:
It turns out a Gaza building with a whole Golani unit in it collapsed, apparently after being hit by “friendly” IDF tank fire. 3 dead, one fighting for his life, a few badly injured, and a whole regiment busy evacuating the unit the entire night last night.
While it’s important to note that the IDF has suffered similar self-inflicted wounds in previous conflicts, it’s also important to point out that Israeli deaths in combat especially involving friendly fire have a severe impact on public perceptions of the war.
David Grossman’s speech at the Yitzhak Rabin memorial–after he’d lost his own brave son in the last day of the war–in which flayed Ehud Olmert played a major role in turning public perception against that conflict.
Unfortunately, four Israeli dead in such an incident has much more impact than the death of 400 or even 4,000 Palestinians, because Israelis are inured to the suffering of the enemy. But their own suffering they understand. Thank God they have that much human feeling.
It is customary to talk of such losses as korbanot (“sacrifices”) for the nation. I see them as sacrifices as well. But in a different sense. These soldiers are sacrifices on the altar of Ehud Barak’s folly. If Israelis begin to reconsider the costs of implementing Barak’s folly, then their sacrifice will not have been in vain.
Haaretz reports about 100 Palestinian dead today alone with many of them civilians. This would raise the total to somewhere close to 600 dead for the whole conflict. The IDF wiped out three entire Gazan families totalling 19 souls in separate attacks.
Peter D says
Of course, it will be only after heavy Israeli military casualties that the public will turn against the war, again for the wrong reason. The same way it turned against the Second Lebanon Fiasco without even once mentioning the 1000+ Lebanese civilians killed. Now, I insist on “military”, since, as was noted by many in the past, civilians just don’t count the same in Israel as soldiers. Perverted, but true. Yossi Sarid once has a nice op-ed about it in Haaretz, but I cannot seem to find it online anymore.
am i wrong or do you richard relish reporting on “sacrifices on the altar of Ehud Barak’s folly”? quite pathetic of you. there 5000 non-violent ways gazans could have expressed their angst at their situation – instead they launched 5000 rockets at sderot… and so the need for military action. now you gloat when israelis die due to friendly fire. quite pathetic of you. what is it that you represent? some awful form of jewish self-loathing. get thee to a therapist.
Richard – While I generally identify with much of your writing, I’ve found your posts on the war lacking in balance and empathy for the Israeli side. To call the current fighting “Barak’s folly” is simplistic at best… I think Haim Oron (Meretz) has struck a better balance – justifying military action after the Hamas announced an end to the tahadiyeh and fired dozens of missiles at Israel, but then immediately pressing for a cease-fire
there 5000 non-violent ways gazans could have expressed their angst at their situation – instead they launched 5000 rockets at sderot…
tzvee the Palestinians and international community have tried 10.000 peaceful ways of solving the crisis for decades. Instead Israel has continued building settlements and raised the level of occupation violence to unseen limits for a civilized democracy, which Israel claims to be. One could say that those x rockets from Gaza were a x messages, negotiate.
I personally see it as hypocritical when Israelis and pro-Israelis demand Palestinians to show non violence, but completely deny that the violence is caused by the occupation. Israel has had 40 years to solve the problem in peaceful manner but has managed only to make the problem worse using constant violence. So there are many reasons for Jewish self-loathing, much more than for Jewish self-praising.
Maybe it is you tzvee who is most in need of a therapist.
Richard Silverstein says
@tzvee: I am deeply offended at your overblown, inaccurate and churlish mangling of my real views on this.
First Hamas did not fire 5,000 rockets at Israel. Hamas is one of many groups firing rockets. During ceasefire Hamas fires virtually no rockets at Israel (though other groups do). Second, what could Hamas have done “non-violently” that would’ve moved Israel in any way? Tzvee, you’re not a fool. I know this. Yet you really believe that Israel would’ve responded if Hamas had engaged in Ghandian civil disobedience?
There was NO need for military action if Israel had ceased its criminal siege of Gaza. I hear not a word from you about the suffering this induced on the 1.5 million Palestinian CIVILIANS there.
That is an ODIOUS lie. And if you ever say anything remotely similar here you will never publish another comment in this blog. I am trying with difficulty to preserve my respect for you, Tzvee as we agree on many other things. BUt you will NEVER get to say that I gloat over the death of ANYONE, least of all Israeli soldiers. ANd you will NEVER say that I am a self-loathing Jew. In fact, I loathe YOU for saying this. ANd if you had an ounce of derech eretz you would be apologizing sometime before the Days of Awe for smearing my Jewishness.
Saying they died for Barak’s folly is NOT gloating over their death. In fact, I see them as korbanot in the goal of eventually ending this war. Unfortunately, it will take more dead Israeli troops before this happens.
The Israelis are like Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. Nothing will stop them from their madness. Only deaths of their own boys will do so. I do not gloat about this. In fact, I think Olmert, Livni and Barak should have these boys on their consciences for a very long time.
Richard Silverstein says
Are your eyes open, man??? 100 to 1! How much empathy can I have when one side is using F-16s to pulverize civilians neighborhoods and the other is using the equivalent of very powerful slingshots. I know. David killed Goliath with such a slingshot. It can be done. But F-16s do a much more effective job.
When Hamas gets its first F-16 I’ll be extremely sympathetic to Israel’s suffering. Don’t get me wrong. I do feel sympathy for the suffering of those living under Hamas rockets. But again, they are victims of a miserably failed government policy. It is not so much that I lack empathy with the victims as that I am angry at the government that inflicts such suffering on them for the sake of making a bankrupt political point that Hamas can never be a legitimate political party for Palestinians.
Ira is a clown. Balance? Maybe there is no balance in the reporting or commentary because there is no balance in the reality, you clown.
Richard, might I remind you that the Gazan population voted Hamas in as their preferred form of government? Might I also remind you that constant bombardment by “very powerful slingshots” is not the sort of relationship any country wants to have with its neighbours, even if they are certified terrorist groups.
Exactly what did you expect, a “level playing field”? The establishing of superiority is intrinsic to the waging of war. Creating overwhelming superiority over the enemy by all means possible is how they are won. All except you seem to know this.
de Tocqueville said that “in a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.” Gazans have theirs. So it seems that democracies do go to war with each other 🙂
Richard Silverstein says
What YOU do not “seem to know” is that in insurgencies it does not matter how much power the superior force brings to bear. The insurgents win just by surviving. And survive, Hamas will indeed do. This is a war that Israel cannot win unless it gives up the idea that it CAN win the war by military means alone. This struggle can only end through negotiations no matter how much you or Israel object to the idea.