Aluf Benn’s violence-serving narcissism is stereotypical of Israelis

by Yaniv Reich on January 19, 2011

In an op-ed today, Aluf Benn argues that Israel cannot stop Palestinian independence except through the “terrible” options of bombing Iran, calling early elections (like this is equivalently “terrible”), or taking retaliatory action against the Palestinian Authority for daring to seek international support for a state.  “Terrible” is the one adjective Benn manages to produce to describe the notion of bombing a large, sovereign country in order to avoid having to give up your colonies.

But his total failure to view the world, and ethics, from any perspective other than his own navel is perhaps best captured in the first paragraph.

They will go out into Jerusalem’s summer heat and march down Saladin Street toward the Old City walls. Fifty Palestinians, then 100, then 200 and 1,000 and 10,000. Marching and shouting “Istiqlal,” independence. Not because they support Ehud Barak’s new party, Atzmaut (the Hebrew word for independence ), but to get Israel out of the territories beyond the Green Line and establish a Palestinian state there. Just like the demonstrators in Tunisia got rid of Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali.

How will Israel react? Will it shoot the demonstrators and kill them before cameras from all over the world? A public relations disaster. Will it jail thousands for holding an unauthorized demonstration? Not practical. Will it blame the Palestinian Authority? Irrelevant. And what if the demonstrators keep marching, day after day, supported by international sympathy and all the international news media?

Indeed, one of Israel’s foremost analysts imagines how Israel will react to widespread, democratic protests in the West Bank.  Of course, in the process, he ignores the weekly, unarmed protests that have been going on for years, organized by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committees.  We can look to them if we care to learn exactly how Israel will respond: with arbitrary arrests, extraordinary violence, and endless propaganda to try and whitewash its crimes.

What’s the problem with regularly attacking unarmed demonstrators demanding the end to the theft of their land?  “A public relations disaster,” Benn sagely informs us.   What’s the main concern with arbitrarily detaining thousands of unarmed demonstrators?  “Not practical.”

Are you f***king kidding?  This inability to process elementary features of human ethics and democratic principles in the modern world is one of the most serious problems facing Aluf Benn specifically, and Israelis more generally.  So accustomed are we to staring at our neuroses in our mirrors and television sets that we cannot fathom for a minute the one very good reason to not murder or arrest people with justification: it is morally reprehensible.

PS: Calling unarmed, popular demonstrations a “white intifada” is racist. Period.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Liane January 19, 2011 at 11:01 am

Yaniv, what depresses me about his article is that, like most others, he does not seem to understand that the US and EU are prepared to back pretty much anything Israel does, as long as Israel can pass their actions off as a response to violence.

They didn’t moan much about the Israeli violence of the first intifada, even though the Palestinian violence kicked off only some months into it. Neither did they object to the Israeli violence of the second intifada, even though we learned that the IDF basically fired 1.3 million bullets at unarmed masses in the first 3 weeks while no Israelis were dying. They didn’t complain about Cast Lead, even though the IDF broke the cease fire with Hamas that led to it.

We cannot expect of the Palestinians to remain peaceful indefinitely while incredible violence is perpetrated on them, and the moment the Palestinians do something moderately violent, then Israel manages to pass off their far greater violence to the rest of the world as an acceptable response. So unlike what Aluf Benn thinks, shooting another 1.3 million bullets at another batch of unarmed protests in East Jerusalem is something that Israel can get away with easily enough.

Now, anti-depressants or something.

2 Yaniv Reich January 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Unfortunately, I think you are exactly right. As I alluded to in the post, Israel already gets away with extraordinarily violent suppression of nonviolent protest (and you are of course right that during the First and Second Intifadas it was much more brutal still), so there is not much reason to think anything will change if the current PRCC protests expand.

With that said, these things are on the international and media radar in a way they never were before, so there is some small hope for cautious optimism that Israel’s concerns about its image might actually constrain its violence.

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