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Here are the questions any journalist talking to the Israeli military should ask

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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As these lines are being written, IDF gunmen have killed over 40 Palestinians near the Gaza fence, and injured 2,200 more; a dozen are considered to be mortally wounded. When you read these words, the numbers are likely to have jumped higher. The IDF Spokesman is in the habit of claiming its gunmen were “in danger.” When you hear these words, turn your thoughts back to Operation Speedy Express.

Speedy Express was carried out by the Ninth Infantry Division of the US army in the Mekong Delta in 1969. The US army claimed it killed 10,899 enemy combatants. It suffered only 244 casualties. Sitting in Saigon, a young genius named Alexander Demitri Shimkin, a veteran of the civil rights marches, baffled his fellow journalists with a strange hobby: he actually bothered to read the official communiques, and tabulated what written in them.

After several months, Shimkin came up with a strange statistic: the 9th Division claimed to have killed 10,899 combatants, but captured only 748 weapons. Shimkin’s conclusion was simple: the disparity between the dead and the captured weapons means most of the people killed in Speedy Express were not combatants but civilians. Shimkin had a problem getting his early example of data journalism published, and Newsweek only published it in 1972. Yet the publication caused a political firestorm, with the US army having to retreat to the desperate claim that “many of the guerilla units were not armed with weapons.”

Speedy Express should be a lesson to all journalists when they have to deal with information supplied by a military (any military): look closely at the data, and ask the necessary if unpleasant questions. The questions any journalist talking to the IDF Spokesman should be:

  1. How many casualties did the IDF suffer in Gaza? If the number is zero (as it is when these lines were written) or close to it, then the forces were not in danger, and this was not a military action but a massacre.
  2. How many weapons did the IDF capture, or at least documented used by the Palestinians? If the number is zero (and currently it is), or less than the number of people killed or wounded, then at least some of those shot were not a danger to the IDF. Given that currently the number is zero, it’s fair to assume none of those shot presented the IDF gunmen with mortal danger.

Israeli leftists on social media wondered today why the IDF always has a particularly gun-happy posture when it comes to Gazans. The answer, I’m afraid, comes from the nether realms of national psychology: Gazans remind Israelis of the Nakba by their very existence, they are the ghost which keeps haunting the silenced “great nights of horror” of 1948. They are ghosts reminding Israelis that their country is built on a massive graveyard; hence they must be silenced, in any way possible.

When the IDF claims it faces “a threat” from Gazans, it does not mean a mundane, physical threat: some improvised guns or a few homemade bombs. Beneath the drivel about “a threat”, lurks the tortured conscience of Lady MacBeth: “What, will those hands ne’er be clean?”

Yossi Gurvitz
About Yossi Gurvitz

Yossi Gurvitz is a journalist and a blogger, and has covered the occupation extensively.

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18 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    May 14, 2018, 1:15 pm

    RE: Israeli leftists on social media wondered today why the IDF always has a particularly gun-happy posture when it comes to Gazans. The answer, I’m afraid, comes from the nether realms of national psychology: Gazans remind Israelis of the Nakba by their very existence, they are the ghost which keeps haunting the silenced “great nights of horror” of 1948. They are ghosts reminding Israelis that their country is built on a massive graveyard; hence they must be silenced, in any way possible. ~ Gurvitz

    PUT ANOTHER WAY: The Gazan “Great March of Return” represents a ‘narcissistic injury’ to narcissistic Likudnik Israel; resulting in Likudnik Israel’s ‘narcissistic rage’ as evidenced by the massacre of Gazans.

    Narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_rage_and_narcissistic_injury

    [EXCERPTS] Narcissistic rage is a reaction to narcissistic injury, which is a perceived threat to a narcissist’s self-esteem or self-worth. Narcissistic injury (or narcissistic scar) is a phrase used by Sigmund Freud in the 1920s; narcissistic wound and narcissistic blow are further, almost interchangeable terms.[1] The term narcissistic rage was coined by Heinz Kohut in 1972.

    Narcissistic injury occurs when a narcissist feels that their hidden, “true self” has been revealed. This may be the case when the narcissist experiences a “fall from grace”, such as when their hidden behaviors or motivations are revealed, or when their importance is brought into question. Narcissistic injury is a cause of distress and can lead to dysregulation of behaviors as in narcissistic rage.

    Narcissistic rage occurs on a continuum, which may range from instances of aloofness and expressions of mild irritation or annoyance to serious outbursts, including violent attacks and murder.[2] Narcissistic rage reactions are not limited to personality disorders and may be also seen in catatonic, paranoid delusion and depressive episodes.[2] It has also been suggested that narcissists have two layers of rage. The first layer of rage can be thought of as a constant anger (towards someone else), with the second layer being a self-aimed wrath.[3] . . .

    • Kohut and self psychology
    Heinz Kohut explored a wide range of rage experiences in his seminal article “Thoughts on Narcissism and Narcissistic Rage” (1972).[17] He considered narcissistic rage as one major form among many, contrasting it especially with mature aggression.[18] Because the very structure of the self itself is weakened in the narcissist, their rage cannot flower into real assertiveness;[19] and they are left instead prone to oversensitivity to perceived or imagined narcissistic injuries resulting in narcissistic rage.[20]

    For Kohut, narcissistic rage is related to narcissists’ need for total control of their environment, including “the need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means”.[21] It is an attempt by the narcissist to turn from a passive sense of victimization to an active role in giving pain to others, while at the same time attempting to rebuild their own (actually false) sense of self-worth. It may also involve self-protection and preservation, with rage serving to restore a sense of safety and power by destroying that which had threatened the narcissist.[21]

    Alternatively, according to Kohut, rages can be seen as a result of the shame at being faced with failure.[22] Narcissistic rage is the uncontrollable and unexpected anger that results from a narcissistic injury – a threat to a narcissist’s self-esteem or worth. Rage comes in many forms, but all pertain to the same important thing: revenge. Narcissistic rages are based on fear and will endure even after the threat is gone.[23]

    To the narcissist, the rage is directed towards the person that they feel has slighted them; to other people, the rage is incoherent and unjust. This rage impairs their cognition, therefore impairing their judgment. During the rage they are prone to shouting, fact distortion and making groundless accusations.[24] In his book The Analysis of the Self, Kohut explains that expressions caused by a sense of things not going the expected way blossom into rages, and narcissists may even search for conflict to find a way to alleviate pain or suffering.[25] . . .

    • marc b.
      marc b.
      May 15, 2018, 8:51 am

      The eternal victim.

      Jacqueline Rose: I would like to see an end to the expression “Jewish suffering”. I don’t mind “the Jewish history of suffering” or “the history of the atrocities that have been done to the Jewish people”, but the expression “Jewish suffering” contains something else. It seems to me that the suffering of a woman on the edge of the pit with her child during the Nazi era, and a Palestinian woman refused access to a hospital through a checkpoint and whose unborn baby dies as a result, is the same.

      Hannah Arendt said that the fact that Theodor Herzl’s prediction that the Jews would come to see themselves as surrounded by eternal enemies was hideously actualised by the Holocaust does not make his vision “any truer – it only makes it more dangerous”.

  2. inbound39
    inbound39
    May 14, 2018, 9:40 pm

    Another question Journalist could ask is why Israel is still allowed to sit in the UN as a full member when its full membership was contingent on it agreeing to implement Resolution 194 which Israel agreed to do. Surely at the very least it should be suspended from the UN until it does implement its agreed commitment to implement Resolution 194.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      May 15, 2018, 2:35 am

      Yes, I have always wondered about that; seems to be a dirth of information on why said condition subsequent to UN member admission was never enforced.
      Too, there’s the condition protecting the native non-Jewish population’s rights in the Balfour Declaration also never enforced.

    • Jon66
      Jon66
      May 15, 2018, 5:26 pm

      Inbound,
      I didn’t not see any documentation of such a contingency. In fact, the admission of Israel was opposed by several states because they believed that Israel was not committed to following UN 194.
      For example, here is the Lebanese rep, “An objective examination of the evidence revealed that in its structure, acts and declared intentions, Israel did not yet seem to conform to those earlier United Nations wishes and decisions. While those considerations were admittedly outside the scope of Article 4, the interpretation of that Article rendered by the International Court of Justice [1/ See Admission of a State to the United Nations (Charter, Article 4), Advisory Opinion: I.C.J. Reports 1948, page 57.] supported me view that they were relevant to its application in the case before the Assembly: If they had been allowed to take effect in the minds of the members of the Ad Hoc Political Committee, the Lebanese proposal to defer action on the admission of Israel until the fourth session of the Assembly would have prevailed.

      On two important questions, namely, the return of the Arab refugees and the internationalization of Jerusalem, the Lebanese delegation could draw no satisfactory conclusions from the statements made by the representatives and leaders of Israel. It could not conclude that the refugees would be permitted to return to their homes, if they so desired, to live in peace with their neighbours, nor could it conclude that Israel would not incorporate into its territory the New City of Jerusalem. Yet both those requirements had been specifically laid down by General Assembly resolutions 181 (II) and 194 (III). To admit Israel &t that juncture would be to encourage it to continue to disregard the decisions taken on those two cardinal points.”
      https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/0B3AB8D2A7C0273D8525694B00726D1B

      • inbound39
        inbound39
        May 15, 2018, 8:02 pm

        Israel was accepted into the United Nations on condition that it accept the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees. Admission of Israel to membership in the United Nations (General Assembly Resolution 273 of May 11, 1949 ) requires Israel to comply with General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 11, 1948 and Israel stated it agreed to comply with this resolution.

        text of General Assembly Resolution 273 of May 11, 1949 admitting Israel into the United Nations, and noting Israel’s stated agreement to comply with Resolution 194 :

        http://representativepress.org/IsraelViolatesResolution.html

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        May 15, 2018, 9:26 pm

        Inbound,
        There is nothing in the resolution that states Israel has agreed to comply with 194.
        It says, “Recalling its resolutions of 29 November 1947 3/ and 11 December 1948 4/ and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the representative of the Government of Israel 5/ before the ad hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions,”
        The Israeli representative’s responses to the ad hoc committee were “The statements of the representative of the applicant State on the status of Jerusalem and the Holy Places had clearly been in opposition to General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948. His assurances had been vague and evasive, and their execution was by no means guaranteed.” According to Mr. Abbas, the Iraqi rep.
        https://unispal.un.org/DPA/DPR/unispal.nsf/0/0B3AB8D2A7C0273D8525694B00726D1B
        From the debate linked above you can see that the opposition to Israel’s membership was largely because Israel would not assure compliance and disagree with aspects of 194.

      • inbound39
        inbound39
        May 16, 2018, 2:45 am

        Eban agreed to it and you will find it on the Unispal site on the History of Palestinian and Israeli conflict section. I will go hunt it out and repost it if you cannot find it.The link I posted previously shows clearly they agreed to it or the UN would not state it in the minutes.

      • inbound39
        inbound39
        May 16, 2018, 2:57 am

        UN facts
        Israel joins the United Nations
        Israel became a member of the United Nations on 11 May 1949.
        The preamble to the resolution admitting Israel to United Nations
        membership specifically referred to Israel’s undertakings to
        implement General Assembly resolutions 181 (II) and 194 (III), the
        two resolutions that formed the centre of the Palestine issue in the
        United Nations:
        “Having received the report of the Security Council on the
        application of Israel for membership in the United Nations,
        “Noting that in the judgement of the Security Council, Israel
        is a peace-loving State and is able and willing to carry out the
        obligations contained in the Charter,
        “Noting that the Security Council has recommended to the
        General Assembly that it admit Israel to membership in the United
        Nations,
        “Noting furthermore the declaration by the State of Israel that it
        ‘unreservedly accepts the obligations of the United Nations Charter
        and undertakes to honour them from the day when it becomes a
        Member of the United Nations’,
        “Recalling its resolutions of 29 November 1947 and 11
        December
        1948 and taking note of the declarations and explanations made
        by the representative of the Government of Israel before the ad
        hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the
        said resolutions,

        The General Assembly,

        Acting
        in discharge of its functions under Article 4 of the Charter
        and rule 125 of its rules of procedure,
        “1.
        Decides
        that Israel is a peace-loving State which accepts the
        obligations contained in the Charter and is able and willing to
        carry out those obligations;
        “2.
        Decides
        to admit Israel to membership in the United Nations.”
        Source:
        The Origins and Ev
        olution of the Palestine Problem, 1917-1988,
        United Nations, 1990, p. 144. 1……….From UNISPAL Site……The Question of Palestine.

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        May 16, 2018, 7:10 am

        Inbound,
        Once again. The preamble says “taking note” with regard to Israels explanations of the resolutions. Those explanations do not make any promises to fulfill 194.
        However, “State of Israel that it “unreservedly accepts the obligations of the United Nations Charter and undertakes to honour them from the day when it becomes a member of the United Nations”. Here Israel undertakes to “honor” or fulfill its obligations to the charter.
        The resolution does not note that Israel agrees to follow 194. The Israeli rep essentially said, ‘we will do our best’ and the UN said ‘good enough’. That is not a conditional admittance.

      • inbound39
        inbound39
        May 16, 2018, 11:00 am

        The preamble to the resolution admitting Israel to United Nations
        membership specifically referred to Israel’s undertakings to
        implement General Assembly resolutions 181 (II) and 194 (III), the
        two resolutions that formed the centre of the Palestine issue in the
        United Nations:………….Are you having difficulty reading that. I am anti semantic Jon66

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        May 16, 2018, 1:55 pm

        Inbound,
        “The preamble to the resolution admitting Israel to United Nations
        membership specifically referred to Israel’s undertakings to
        implement…”

        That is just not correct.
        The specific language is “Recalling its resolutions of 29 November 1947[3] and 11 December 1948[4] and taking note of the declarations and explanations made by the representative of the Government of Israel[5] before the Ad Hoc Political Committee in respect of the implementation of the said resolutions,”
        The plain meaning is that Israel made declarations and explanations regarding the implementation of the resolutions. It does not say what those declarations and explanations were. If you read the minutes of the debate over Israels admittance, you will see that the declarations and resolutions did NOT promise to implement 194.
        If there is evidence to the contrary I am happy to admit my mistake, but you just keep referencing the declarations and resolutions without a link or quote that supports your position.

      • inbound39
        inbound39
        May 18, 2018, 10:43 am

        The references in the preambular paragraphs to General Assembly resolutions 181 (II) and 194 (III), the former having created Israel and the yet non-existent Palestinian Arab State, the latter having preserved the right of return of Palestinian refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours, carried implications of the Israeli acknowledgement of the continuing existence of a Palestinian Arab entity. However, the Palestinian Arab entity itself had not come into existence. That part of its territory occupied by Israel in 1948 was absorbed de facto by Israel by the extension of its laws to apply to those areas as an integral part of Israel. The “Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordinance” of 22 September 1948 reads:…….If you follow the link provided you will see that after it agreed the Provisional Government rewrote its laws when it got back so either way you look at it Israel was granted Full Membership under false pretenses.

        https://www.un.org/unispal/history/origins-and-evolution-of-the-palestine-problem/part-ii-1947-1977/

      • Jon66
        Jon66
        May 18, 2018, 4:28 pm

        Inbound,
        You wrote,”Israel was accepted into the United Nations on condition that it accept the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees.”
        You have not presented any evidence of this and are now on to another argument.
        Can we agree that Israel was not admitted with any conditions related to adherence to 194?

  3. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    May 15, 2018, 5:17 am

    Mr Gurvitz is superb. He grew up in Israel but he also learnt how to think.
    The IDF is shooting Zionism when it kills unarmed civilians.

    American Jews do not want to have to choose but the more Gazans Israel kills the closer the choice becomes.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2012/06/07/israel-in-peril/
    “Orthodox hypernationalism and its sometimes violently antidemocratic, even racist voices partly account for Beinart’s pessimistic prognosis for mainstream American Judaism and its relation to Israel.8 “American Zionism,” he fears, “will become the province of people indifferent to liberal democratic ideals, and the American Jews most committed to those ideals will become indifferent, at best, to the Jewish state.”9 He cites studies showing that younger non-Orthodox American Jews, conspicuously liberal in their values and politics, are less and less attached to Israel. Here is the American Jewish version of the conflict I have described in Israel between democratic ideals and tribal nationalism. Both my grandfathers, like most American Jews of their generation, at once Rooseveltian Democrats committed to strong notions of social justice and ardent Zionists, would have been horrified by what has happened in Israel and by the consequent need for American Jews to make such a choice.”

  4. Parity
    Parity
    May 15, 2018, 4:13 pm

    “recognizing the difficulty of implementationl” (or words to that effect) was added to the condition placed Israel.

  5. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    May 16, 2018, 7:29 am

    Zioland has morphed into a truly dystopian alternative universe. In the latest article in the NY Times there is an absolute corker from a “columnist” from the Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
    Read and weep !
    Ben-Dror Yemini, a columnist for Yediot Aharonot, searched for a culprit and landed upon what he called the “Nakba culture,” which he said had held back Palestinians going back to 1948.
    “There was a Nakba,” he wrote in Tuesday’s paper, using the Arabic term for the “catastrophe” of the formation of Israel and the loss of Palestinians’ homes. “The Arabs of Palestine underwent expulsion. Tens of millions of people throughout the entire world, including Jews, underwent similar expulsion. But only the Palestinians adopted an ethos of rejectionism, victimhood, suffering and death.”
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/world/middleeast/israelis-gaza-protests.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news
    “only the Palestinians adopted an ethos of rejectionism,victimhood,suffering and death”. FFS!!

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