This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
Here we go again. Ceasefires that don’t hold. The excuse this time: an Israeli soldier has fallen into Palestinian hands. At least that’s the word from Israel and the US State Department.
Ceasefires that don’t hold are less about an Israeli soldier than they are about outside powers like the United States that are so concerned about Palestinian suffering that they transfer weapons to keep Israel’s army on the move.
Ceasefires that don’t hold are about strategic advantage, gas and oil fields and corporate profit.
For Palestinians, ceasefires that don’t hold are about more burning children.
Ceasefires that don’t hold are also about a people on the other side of history being bombed into oblivion by those who earnestly built the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and solemnly pledge that never again should the world stand by in silence while Jews or anyone else suffers injustice and genocide.
Perhaps that pledge has been fulfilled in a strange and inverted way. The world is decidedly vocal about the injustice and violence Israel is visiting upon Palestinians. Even parts of the mainstream media are broadcasting the reality in part or in whole. Yet the world remains unwilling or unable to stop the carnage.
Thus Jeffrey Goldberg’s fear that the capture of the Israeli soldier might cause Israeli military policy to go “all-in,” or as the title of his commentary puts it, go “off the rails.”
What could going off the rails mean in this situation? Israel is ravaging entire cities, rocketing hospitals, shelling UN schools and shelters. What’s left in Netanyahu’s “all-in” strategy – the overt ethnic cleansing of Gaza? The nuclear option?
Goldberg features Amos Oz, that venerable and much-feted Israeli novelist, peacenik and enabler of denigration of Palestinians, as Israel’s “all-in” weather vane. If Oz becomes convinced that more violence is needed then Israel might indeed go off the rails.
If Oz is the person with his finger in the dam of Israeli rage, then all-in could become a reality in a heartbeat. Here is Oz in the interview itself:
Would you consider the present ground offensive to be limited or unlimited?
I think in some points it is excessive. I don’t have detailed information on what is actually happening on the ground, but to judge from some of the hits that the Israeli army caused in Gaza, I think at least in some points the military action is excessive – justified, but excessive.
Can you imagine a Palestinian state that is not hostile toward Israel?
Absolutely. I believe the majority of the Palestinians are not in love with Israel, but they do accept with clenched teeth that the Israeli Jews are not going anywhere, just like the majority of Israeli Jews – unhappily and with clenched teeth – accept that the Palestinians are here to stay. This is a basis not for a honeymoon, but perhaps for a fair divorce just like the case of the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
You have been talking about a long-term solution. But what could a short-term agreement look like?
The present hostilities will only stop, unfortunately, when one of the parties or both of them are exhausted. This morning I read very carefully the charter of Hamas. It says that the Prophet commands every Muslim to kill every Jew everywhere in the world. It quotes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and says that the Jews controlled the world through the League of Nations and through the United Nations, that the Jews caused the two world wars and that the entire world is controlled by Jewish money. So I hardly see a prospect for a compromise between Israel and Hamas. I have been a man of compromise all my life. But even a man of compromise cannot approach Hamas and say: ‘Maybe we meet halfway and Israel only exists on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.’
Oz hasn’t hopped off his highly-honored fence yet but, if you read his words carefully, don’t tempt him. If Palestinians get too uppity, he might join the raging crowd.
As usual, though, the question is what is tolerated by the world that counts, the ones that tally the global scorecard? Israel’s level of violence has until now been defined as “on the rails.” Can we expect the world to refuse to tolerate another level of violence it defines as “off the rails?” Or will an “all-in” Israel continue to be tolerated and enabled?
Amos Oz wants the world to know that he is busy carefully reading Hamas’s charter. But perhaps the world needs to read Amos Oz carefully.
Literary giant or not, Oz is ready to pull the plug. Can Israel be far behind?