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Israel’s war is just beginning and has never ended

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This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Is it time for commentary on Israel’s war that is just beginning and has never ended?


The airwaves are full of pumped up pro-Israel armchair warriors. It’s also full of moral outrage on behalf of Palestinians. A virtual war. Don’t be distracted. The real war isn’t on TV or Facebook. The real war is on the ground. The days and weeks ahead are going to be brutal.

No mercy will be allowed. War is like that.

As per usual, America has Israel’s back. Egypt does too. The United Nations has much more bark than bite. Israel has a free hand.

The hope for change, well, it hasn’t arrived. Not even close.

Some refer to the rockets from Gaza as “resistance missiles.” Nice touch. But Israeli warplanes hitting targets in Gaza and soldiers gathering on Gaza’s borders are the real deal.

Netanyahu wants to finish Hamas off as part of his legacy. Or is it his intention to set Hamas back enough to keep it in place?

As for Secretary of State John Kerry, now you have it – the predictable, logical and official end of your vaunted final, settle all claims peace process.

On the moral outrage and appeal to humanity front, save it. We’ve been through this countless times. The world is even deafer today than it was when outrage was first ramped up during Israel’s various military adventurers in the 1980s. Lebanon and the first intifada are distant memories. The lessons weren’t learned. The openings weren’t taken.

Action alerts and appeals for a cease-fire are important to produce and distribute. Even so, Israel will stop when it’s in Israel’s interest to stop. Not before.

As for the notion that Gaza is Israel’s quagmire, somewhat like America in Vietnam, try a different angle. Gaza is Israel’s military testing ground. Tried and true. Always available.

Depressing for those of us watching Israel’s war machine once again exert its control? Worse for those who are being targeted. Much worse.

The days ahead, blood and more blood. And more blood beyond that.

Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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12 Responses

  1. ohiojoes on July 9, 2014, 11:41 am

    Powerful stuff. I will wager that no one writing today has as much knowledge of the reality of warfare as Marc Ellis.

  2. seafoid on July 9, 2014, 12:32 pm

    “Gaza is Israel’s military testing ground”

    Gaza is the graveyard for all the naïve morality Judaism developed in Galut.
    Gaza is real life Jewish power in action. It’s the projection of ghetto thinking in real time with American weaponry. It’s Blut und Eisen , Yahudi style.

    And they’ll tell you it’s the only alternative to intermarriage. It’s the war against the shiksas in the US too, in a funny kind of way.

  3. MahaneYehude1 on July 9, 2014, 12:53 pm

    @Marc Ellis:

    Thank you for your article, even though I could replace the word “Israel” by the word “Hamas”.

    I have one question to you, Marc: after all the events occurred in the last month, mainly the kidnapping and murder of the three Jewish and the Palestinian teens, the hatred and incitement and the war between Israel and the Hamas, do you still believe in one state solution? If yes, what is your ME model for such state?

    I do thank you in advance

    • Mooser on July 10, 2014, 6:48 pm

      “Thank you for your article, even though I could replace the word “Israel” by the word “Hamas”.

      Yes, the Hamas Air Force is a terrifying military force, and I’ve heard Hamas has an illegal, uncontrolled nuclear arsenal, too. And oh, that Hamas security force, the way they demolish houses! Yup, Hamas and the idf, yessirreebob, they’s just the same.
      Couldn’t tell Hamas and the IDF apart if we tried.

    • oldgeezer on July 10, 2014, 7:53 pm

      ” even though I could replace the word “Israel” by the word “Hamas”.”

      Well yes you could.

      The article would make no sense then but you could do it. You could also replace Israel with Ducks.

      There is only one oppressor and aggressor and that is Israel.

  4. bilal a on July 9, 2014, 1:19 pm

    Gaza, like the innocent boy abducted and killed by the righteous, is korban olah.
    — A burnt offering.

    The polemic against child sacrifice (to YHWH) in Deut. 12:29ff.; Jer 7:31; 19:5, 32:35 indicates that at least from the time of the last kings of Judah it was popularly believed that YHWH accepted, perhaps even commanded, it. [42]

    • Mooser on July 10, 2014, 6:53 pm

      “Gaza, like the innocent boy abducted and killed by the righteous, is korban olah.
      — A burnt offering.”

      I was trying to refer to that as little as possible. As appropriate as it seems, I hope that comparison can be dispensed with. I don’t know the proper brocha.

  5. ivri on July 9, 2014, 2:26 pm

    The analysis here is generally correct. Just add that Israel has an insoluble dilemma in how to treat Hamas. On one hand it`s a problem since fire missiles into Israel at will but on the other hand it is indispensable as an authority to run Gaza – for Israel to do that by itself would be a disaster and other groups there, as the Islamic Jihad, are even worse. So the “solution” appears to be to treat these outbursts of violence as inevitable and there to stay (e.g. as epidemic outbreaks) and try to limit damages while also taking advantage of “the opportunity” to execute “drawer plans” – a bank of targets of importance (as missile launchers) to hit. This is easier said than done because it is impossible to calculate how such outbreaks will actually develop – but then Ce la vie, life is also about risks.

    • Mooser on July 10, 2014, 6:58 pm

      “Just add that Israel has an insoluble dilemma in how to treat Hamas”

      Gee, you haven’t noticed that freakin’everygoddam thing about Israel and Zionism is an “insoluble dilemma”. Not only its external (although, where’s the line?) dilemmas, but its internal dillemmas, too. All insoluble, for Zionist Israel.

      Maybe that’s the Zionist way of making sure Judaism doesn’t just dissolve in the modern world? ROTFLMSJAO!

      • ivri on July 11, 2014, 7:54 am

        Well, insoluble dilemmas, for a small entity in a hostile region where it cannot win but only not-lose, is indeed the norm. This is part of the package – but miraculously it somehow works. While the others with no such apparent dilemmas collapse. So Israel bases its hopes on extrapolation that into the future – perhaps it’s the new “normal”.

  6. seafoid on July 9, 2014, 3:27 pm

    53 dead now. Zionism’s secular priests do need their human sacrifices.

  7. surewin on July 9, 2014, 3:45 pm

    “Israel will stop when it’s in Israel’s interest to stop. Not before.”

    That would have been a long time ago.

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