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Avigdor Lieberman wants to give war a chance

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On Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned. He was upset about what he perceived as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being too soft on Hamas . First because the PM agreed to provide some cash and fuel to Gaza, and then, after a couple of days of bombing in Gaza, the PM accepted a ceasefire.

Israeli Defense Ministers normally get a turn at conducting large-scale massacres in Gaza– “killing lots of Arabs” as Education Minister Bennett would say, killing those “little snakes”, as Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked would say. Even ‘left’ hero Ehud Barak had a go at Gaza twice when he was Defense minister between 2007 and 2013. And of course the ‘moderate’ Likudnik Moshe Yaalon got his massacre as Defense Minister in 2014, which was 1-1/2 times the size of Barak’s.

So Avigdor Lieberman, who is more rhetorically bellicose than Barak or Yaalon, was denied his. And just when time seemed ripe for another ‘mowing of the lawn’ in Gaza, as they say in Israel.

Gearing up towards another massacre

Everything seemed geared up for another large-scale massacre. The Israeli commando invasion of Gaza territory on Sunday (territory which Israel claims it doesn’t occupy but which basically the rest of the world knows it does), in which seven Palestinian militants (including a senior commander) as well as a senior Israeli commander were killed, was a perfect pretext for another major Israeli seasonal onslaught. The commando operation came at a time of extraordinary lull: Netanyahu had just permitted cash and fuel to flow into Gaza, to alleviate some unbearable tensions, and he was in Paris saying that “We want to prevent a humanitarian collapse in Gaza, and that’s what we’re doing.” He assured the world he was “doing everything [he] can to prevent an unnecessary war.”

And then that Israeli operation. On the face of it, irrational, right? But actually, it follows a pattern. As Noam Chomsky observed in the wake of the 2014 onslaught:

“Since November 2005 the terms of these agreements have remained essentially the same. The regular pattern is for Israel to disregard whatever agreement is in place, while Hamas observes it — as Israel has conceded — until a sharp increase in Israeli violence elicits a Hamas response, followed by even fiercer brutality.”

Former Chief of Southern Command Maj. Gen. Tal Rousso made statements seeking to tone down the notion that this was a deliberate assassination attempt against the Hamas battalion commander Nour Baraka, saying:

“These are operations that take place all the time, every night, in all divisions. This is an operation that was probably uncovered. Not an assassination attempt. We have other ways to assassinate.”

“Probably”. Maybe. Maybe not. The possibility of an assassination operation on Baraka would not have been less logical (in the weird Israeli logic) than, say, the assassination of chief Hamas negotiator Ahmad Al-Jabari on November 14, 2012, just hours after Al-Jabari had received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel. Al-Jabari was interested in a long-term ceasefire with Israel, and his killing was the immediate lead-up to the 2012 “Pillar of Defense” onslaught (called “Pillar of Cloud” in Hebrew), under Barak as Defense Minister.

Israel broke a 2008 ceasefire (which then had lasted 4 months) by invading Gaza territory and killing six Palestinian militants. That was the lead-up to the “Cast Lead” onslaught, under Barak, that killed 1400 Palestinians.

In any case, this is just what Israel does “all the time”, per Rousso.

What then ensues in such cases is just the same old story. The Palestinians respond with projectiles, and Israel bombs.

But this time, Israel bombed in a ‘special’ way. A senior Israeli Air Force officer cited in Haaretz said that the targets this time were “completely different from anything we’ve known in the past”. These were high-rise buildings in city centers.

According to the officer, such targets were only struck twice during the entire campaign of Operation Protective Edge in 2014. “Just tonight, we’ve hit four [of these] targets,” he said.

The officer bragged about being able to do this without killing anyone: “We’ve learned how to attack these targets at the heart of residential neighborhoods and obliterate them without killing anyone in the strike. We uphold our values, we’re not fighting against civilians”, he said.

What a success. Once again, Israel managed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population (quoting the UN 2009 fact-finding mission report on the 2008-9 onslaught), but this time,  it used those couple of days including strikes in 160 sites, including TV stations, residential buildings and kindergartens – to show how moral it is, because it managed to not kill anyone (except of course those seven Palestinians in Gaza to begin with, but who’s counting?).

Surely, this is a great PR for Israel and “the best” – its pilots. They are the most moral of the most moral. This is certainly better PR than what former Israeli Air Force commander Dan Halutz had said, when asked what he feels when bombing Palestinians with expected civilian casualties: “I feel a light bump to the aircraft due to the bomb’s release, and a second later, it’s over.” It’s also better PR than what the ‘liberal’ Maj. General (res.) Amiram Levin said: “most of these people are born to die anyway, we just need to help them to it”.

Israel reserves its freedom to violate the ceasefire

In the wake of the ceasefire falling in place Tuesday, the Palestinian factions in Gaza released a joint statement saying that “a cease-fire has been reached and we have responded to Egyptian efforts on this matter”, adding that they were “committed to the cease-fire as long as Israel doesn’t break it and doesn’t attack the Palestinian people.” Hamas added that it “really appreciates efforts alongside different entities to obtain a cease-fire and we thank and cherish the Egyptian effort and the international effort, as well as the role the Norwegians and Qataris played.”

An Israeli official cited by Haaretz, on the other hand, said that “Israel reserves its freedom to operate.”

In other words – the pattern is unchanged. Israel reserves its right to conduct invasions “all the time, every night, in all divisions”, as Tal Rousso said. It’s all about not getting caught. To be sure, if Hamas were so openly to reserve its right to invade Israeli territory say, through tunnels, and conduct such operations (and let It be noted here that Hamas has in fact historically always used those tunnels solely for military engagement), well, we would not hear the end of it. This would be a promise to continue active “terror”.

Lieberman upset with easing of tensions with Hamas and with ceasefire

But regardless of the precise terms of the agreement and Israel’s ambivalent position, this ceasefire is after all a ceasefire. And this really isn’t Lieberman’s style. Way too liberal. Lieberman is the type who suggests that Palestinians be decapitated with an axe, and that they be drowned by the thousands in the Dead Sea. Lieberman was already opposed to the deal Netanyahu had closed with Qatar, permitting $15 million in cash to be brought into Gaza, which Hamas was distributing to 27,000 civil servants and some 50,000 families defined as needy last Friday. Education Minister Naftali Bennett was already having a spat with Lieberman about this on Sunday morning, saying that the money is “protection money”, chiding Lieberman for not being tougher and failing to prevent it.

As Israel’s ‘clinical’ onslaught was taking place, Lieberman was being chided by his own, and also from his left, for not being tougher. Sharon Gal, who was a lawmaker with Lieberman’s far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party at the beginning of the current term of parliament, said that Lieberman had gone from being “Rambo” to being a “toy Rambo”, to being a “Zero”:

“If you are a group of wimps unable to make decisions, go home. For weeks and weeks here you spoke like Rambo, you threatened several and definitive attacks from every podium”,

Gal told listeners of his radio show on Galey Israel.

“And in the end, children in the south go to sleep and wet their beds at night. Why should Jewish children have to go to sleep in fear? The defence minister, that toy Rambo, is silent. I was a member of his party, and this morning I am ashamed of it, I am ashamed that I was a lawmaker of that party. This is a defense minister that does nothing but talk. You are an absolute zero.”

‘Liberal centrist’ lawmaker Yair Lapid opined that Lieberman and Netanyahu were showing weakness in the wrong place:

“In the Middle East, they only understand strength, and we are not utilising it. If I am prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh is as good as dead,”

Lapid said, referring to the Hamas political leader, adding:

“We must return to targeted assassinations. Hamas must know that they are as good as dead.”

This was really all too much for Lieberman. He really wasn’t in the mood for a ceasefire. He was in the Azarya mood. And by that, I mean what Elor Azarya, the Israeli sergeant who executed a Palestinian lying incapacited on the ground in 2016, and his family were saying on social media in 2014, in the wake of a July ceasefire:

(July 15th)

Elor Azarya: Bibi you transvestite what ceasefire? Penetrate their mother!!!

(23 likes including Adir Azarya, Victor Azarya).

Charlie Azarya (Elor’s father): All strength we need to penetrate the mother of their mother.

Elor: Yes kill them all.

There was way too little blood in this week’s Israeli bombing. If the bombings yielded no deaths, What’s the point? In an op-ed published on Tuesday on the website of far-right Israel Channel 7, Major General (Res.) Amos Yadlin, head of the Institute for National Security Studies (at which former US ambassador Daniel Shapiro works), called on the Israeli government to end the army’s policy of “knocking on roofs”, so as not to give the Hamas leaders it targets the opportunity to escape with their lives and their health intact:

“During war, you don’t inform the enemy in advance so that they can get out of their bunker. We must act to prevent harm to uninvolved people as much as possible, but during war there will be such casualties, and their blood lies on the Hamas leaders who use them as human shields.”

Israel was giving Hamas cash and fuel, then it was bombing with warnings, and now ceasefire. This really became too much for Lieberman. He resigned, calling this a “capitulation to terror”:

“There is no other definition, no other significance, but a capitulation to terror. What we are doing now as a country is buying short-term quiet at the cost of our long-term security.”

Elections ahead

All of this has probably just as much to do with Israeli internal politics than it has to do with Gaza, if not more so. Gaza is not just Israel’s battle-testing arena for weapons. It is also its testing arena for ‘security’ toughness. In lieu of an actual existential threat, Israeli politicians can use Gaza as the epitome of evil and destruction against which they can show their resolve. The ‘wars’ are then effective massacres of a besieged, over-crowded and mostly defenseless civilian population incarcerated in an unlivable concentration camp. And the Israeli politicians portray themselves as protectors of the people, as they compete at who is better in destroying another people.

Netanyahu is trying to damage-control the political hysteria, as the politicians smell political blood and opportunity. Netanyahu is currently keeping the Defense portfolio after Lieberman’s resignation, but Bennett’s party, Habayit Hayehudi, has already vowed to leave the coalition if Bennett doesn’t get the Defense Ministry. When Lieberman resigned, he announced that his whole party, Israel Beitenu, would quit the coalition, leaving it at a slender majority of 61-59 seats in the Knesset, and he called for elections as soon as possible. Bennett threatens to tip the boat completely, unless he gets to be Defense Minister (and presumably carry on the aim, to “kill many Arabs”, because for him “there’s no problem with that”).

This is also seen as an opportunity by the left-center opposition. Naturally (for Israel), they try to outflank Netanyahu from the right, on “security”, as well as chiding Lieberman for not being tough enough. Labour leader Avi Gabbay said that “quiet is bought by deterrence, not with money”. Zionist Union Knesset member Ksenia Svetlova mocked Lieberman for his softness in a tweet: “Apparently two long years were not enough for Avigdor Lieberman to elimatinate Haniyeh within 48 hours, as he had promised, but on the other hand, 48 hours was enough for Haniyeh to eliminate Lieberman’s term as defense minister.” Opposition leader Tzipi Livni said that “Deterrence is created through military strikes,” and called to “exchange the Hamas leadership for people who cooperate with us.” Ehud Barak said that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar was “humiliating Netanyahu.”

The Israeli elections are to be held next year, by November 5th; but many are now pushing for an early election, even in time for the anointed Prime Minister to appear at the AIPAC conference in Washington in March.

Yair Lapid announced that the “countdown has begun”:

“Today the countdown has begun. Today the campaign to restore security, responsibility and leadership to the State of Israel has begun.”

Nothing will change

Nothing will change here. Israeli politicians are playing their macho games of good-cop bad-cop. That’s all soap-opera drama. This may be of great interest for those who see such drama as representing real change, but the sad reality of it is that it does not. For Palestinians, who suffer at the hand of these Zionist narcissists, all of these infightings are as relevant in real life as watching House of Cards. The Israeli solutions, from right to left, stretch from maintaining a genocidal, unlivable status-quo, to actively murdering Palestinians.

They will play their good-cop bad-cop games, they will have their elections and pretend they live in a democracy. And meanwhile, the Palestinians will slowly be poisoned with their un-potable water, if they are meanwhile not bombed into oblivion. The only thing that will affect this unlivable status quo is pressure on Israel from outside. USA is not poised to do that. The UN is largely incapable of helping. It is up to us, citizens of the world, to bring that change about.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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23 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on November 16, 2018, 5:03 pm

    RE: “Avigdor Lieberman wants to give war a chance”

    Edwin Starr – War (What is it good for) + Lycris HQ!!
    P.S. “Good God, y’all!”

  2. Misterioso on November 17, 2018, 9:45 am

    Panic in Zio-land:

    “‘Get it right!’ Israeli consulate spars with US journalist over Gaza headlines”

    RT News, Nov. 15/18


    “An American journalist who pointed out the extensive edits the New York Times made to its article about the Israeli bombing of Gaza found himself in a heated Twitter argument [**] with the Israeli consulate.

    “A Twitter account ‘Editing The Gray Lady,’ which tracks edits to the Times, revealed on Monday how the US paper of record changed its headlines and copy to describe the events in Gaza.

    “’Incredible propaganda,’ Ben Norton, a New York-based writer for The Real News, commented on the edits, adding that the Times ‘bent over backward and rewrote its article to erase how Israel initiated the violence in Gaza, obscuring the fact that Gaza’s self defense was ‘retaliatory’ and instead pushing the covert Israeli operation until the end.'”

    “This is hardly the first time Israeli diplomats have used Twitter to directly address journalists reporting on the conflict. In August, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon accused the BBC of lying over a Gaza story and demanded the British broadcaster ‘change it IMMEDIATELY.’

    “In July, Nahshon lashed out at CNN International to ‘STOP YOUR MANIPULATION,’ saying they ‘got it wrong and not for the first time.’ ”

    ** Go to RT’s site and check out the twitter exchanges.

  3. Marnie on November 17, 2018, 9:51 am

    “We must return to targeted assassinations. Hamas must know that they are as good as dead.”

    Translation: It’s time to mow the lawn. All of the lawn.

  4. Misterioso on November 17, 2018, 10:40 am

    @ Marnie, et al

    The Gaza Strip, up close:

    Uprooted Palestinians’ Blog

    “No safe place: When Israeli (apartheid state) airstrikes hit, Gaza’s children have nowhere to run.” Posted on November 16, 2018

    “Most children in Gaza have experienced a major war during their lifetime. A sense of normalcy returned to life in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after a ceasefire agreement between Palestinian political parties and Israel ended a major escalation in violence.

    “But for children in the besieged territory, it is simply a momentary break in a lifetime of trauma.

    “Up to 45 percent of Gaza’s population of two million is under the age of 14, with most having experienced at least three major Israeli military operations in their lifetime.

    “The crushing decade-long siege on the densely populated territory means children have nowhere to play, nowhere to escape, and, during intensified conflict, nowhere to hide.

    “’There are no safe places to go in times of attacks. We stay at home and pray we are not killed,’ Maher Abdullah, a Senior Programme Officer and spokesperson for Save the Children, told The New Arab.

    “Abdullah and his family huddled together for safety in their apartment as Israel’s military pounded targets in Gaza over the past 24 hours.

    “Huge bombings punctuated the night at 15-minute intervals as families across Gaza hoped their homes would be spared.

    “‘They were asking ‘are we going to die? ‘Why do they want to kill us?’ ‘What did we do for them to kill us?’ Unfortunately, we don’t have an answer for the children.'” –Maher Abdullah

    “In the most recent 2014 war, Israeli military strikes destroyed over 20,000 homes. More than half a million Palestinians were displaced and over 2,200 killed – including around 500 children.”

    “Always under threat – Health professionals in Gaza estimate that as many as 50 percent of children suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to their experiences of war.

    “According to a survey by Save the Children, over 95 percent of children displayed symptoms of depression, hyperactivity, aggression, and a preference for being alone. Abdullah says the brutal 51-day war in 2014 has left children scared of loud noises and thunder, afraid of the dark, and experiencing constant nightmares.

    “Children waking up screaming and crying in the middle of the night is the norm in Gaza, he says, a consequence of constant panic amid an unending cycle of conflict. ‘Our lives are always under threat,’ he says.

    “Up to 45 percent of Gaza’s population is under the age of 14, with most having experienced at least three major wars in their lifetime.”

    “The interminable presence of violence means children and adults alike can never recover from their past traumas, and parents cannot isolate them from threats.

    “The United Nations estimates that more than 300,000 children are in need of psychosocial support. But Gaza’s health infrastructure cannot even begin to cope with the mental health crisis.

    “Hospitals lack medical supplies, while severe underfunding means schools and the United Nations refugee agency can often only provide one counsellor for hundreds of children.
    Beyond a simmering mental health crisis for children, the physical threat posed by Israel’s military has proved devastating.

    “Since protests began in March to demand an end to the blockade and the return of Palestinian refugees, more than 5,000 children have been wounded in demonstrations.
    More than 40 children have been killed, while over 1,000 have been shot by live ammunition.

    “’What we are asking here is just to find a peaceful way to end all of this, to ensure that no more harm will happen to all affected children by these escalations in Gaza,’ Abdallah said.
    ‘We want to build our future, and our country’s future.’”

  5. jon s on November 19, 2018, 4:26 pm

    Did I miss something here? Is it possible that this entire report doesn’t mention some 500 rockets launched from Gaza at innocent civilians in Israel?

    • Bumblebye on November 19, 2018, 5:17 pm

      Why should it?
      Does it cover the number/tonnage of all the bombs and other munitions israel has dumped on Gaza this year?
      Have *you* got a freakin’ clue how much that is, even while you demand a ‘rocket’ count?!

      • jon s on November 20, 2018, 3:52 pm

        old geezer,
        Why would you think that there are no innocent civilians in Gaza?

        Why would you think that I teach fabricated history and squat on stolen land?
        I teach the conventional , accepted, version of history, found in any standard textbook.
        And I don’t “squat” and have never stolen anything.

      • Maghlawatan on November 20, 2018, 4:35 pm

        Israeli history is bullshit. Groupthink may have 100% adoption but zero credibility.

      • Mooser on November 20, 2018, 4:46 pm

        “And I don’t “squat” and have never stolen anything.”

        And you’re good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.

    • oldgeezer on November 19, 2018, 9:19 pm

      @jon s

      Seeing that this article is in relation to lieberman can we raise the question that if there are no innocent civilians in Gaza are there any innocent civilians in Israel?

      Stick to teaching fabricated history and squatting on stolen land.

      • jon s on November 20, 2018, 4:46 pm

        To the north, the border with Lebanon is the internationally recognized Mandatory border, certified by the UN in 2000. To the west, the border is the sea. To the south the border with Egypt is the internationally recognized border set in 1906 between the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire and is not in dispute. To the east the border with Jordan is the internationally recognized Mandatory border and is not in dispute. To the north-east the border with Syria is in dispute, as Israel claims the Golan (not a claim that I agree with) . The border with Gaza is the 1949 armistice line , clearly delineated and recognized. The border with the West Bank, is obviously disputed.
        My post was a brief comment pointing out the omission of the deadly rocket fire, not meant as an overview of the recent events. The men killed in the raid were armed Hamas operatives , not innocent civilians. Even Hamas didn’t claim that they were.
        I don’t squat and I don’t live on stolen land, unless you consider all of Israel to be stolen.

      • RoHa on November 20, 2018, 6:47 pm

        “The border with the West Bank, is obviously disputed.”

        And the comma in your sentence is obviously misplaced.

      • jon s on November 21, 2018, 2:34 pm

        You’re right about the comma and thanks for the correction. I may have been distracted because I was watching the Israel vs. Scotland match in Glasgow while writing my comment. Sadly, we lost…

    • amigo on November 20, 2018, 4:12 pm

      “I teach the conventional , accepted, version of history, found in any standard textbook” jon s

      Indeed , conventional zionist version of history.

      The question is ,

      Is the story Israel tells about itself , matched by the story told by the rest of the universe.

      “And I don’t “squat” and have never stolen anything.”jon s

      Is the story you tell about your ownership of your property , matched by the story told by the legitimate owner, ie The Palestinian family it was stolen from

      • Mooser on November 20, 2018, 4:29 pm

        Now “Jon s” will tell us Israel won Beersheba fair-n-square in the war. In his version of history that’s just peachy-keen.

        And yeah, Bible.

      • jon s on November 20, 2018, 4:56 pm

        I really think that you should come for a visit at some point.
        I don’t imagine that you would become pro – Zionist, but you would have a better grasp of what you’re talking about.

      • amigo on November 20, 2018, 5:24 pm

        “I really think that you should come for a visit at some point.” ,jon s

        I couldn,t possibly be seen cavorting around with an illegal zionist settler.

        Not good for my reputation .

        Maybe when it all falls apart and you are back in the USA , after making aliya—oops, I will see how you are getting used to being treated like everyone else . No special privileges and all that good stuff you enjoyed in your historic homeland.

  6. amigo on November 19, 2018, 5:37 pm

    “Is it possible that this entire report doesn’t mention some 500 rockets launched from Gaza at innocent civilians in Israel?” jon s

    Can you please indicate Israel,s borders so we can respond to your question.

    Also , your entire post does not mention the illegal Israeli raid into Gaza where Israeli thugs murdered innocent civilians.

    Nor did you mention the 200 plus innocent civilians murdered by IDF and some 12000 injured on their own land.

    BTW when are you going to give back the Palestinian land to it,s legitimate owners on which you are illegally squatting.

    • jon s on November 21, 2018, 2:29 pm

      I woudn’t expect you to cavort with any illegal settlers, I keep away from them, too.

      • amigo on November 21, 2018, 3:26 pm

        Does that mean you will be handing over your property to it,s legitimate owner.

        Good decision and you will feel so liberated .Hell you might even be worth meeting.

      • Mooser on November 22, 2018, 12:03 pm

        “I keep away from them, too.”

        Yeah, they’re not as good as you. Strictly low-class trash, those settlers.

  7. Ossinev on November 21, 2018, 7:01 am

    I really think that you should come for a visit at some point.
    I don’t imagine that you would become pro – Zionist, but you would have a better grasp of what you’re talking about.jon s”

    After and if you have survived the StasiNazi interrogation at Ben Gurion Airport and if you are actually allowed into Jon S`s hysterical homeland you will soon be longing for a recuperative holiday back in the civilised world.

  8. amigo on November 21, 2018, 10:11 am


    Are you accusing Jewish Israelis of harassing civil rights activists and supporters of human rights (for Palestinians) .

    IHRA rules would deem that as Jew hatred . Ergo Antisemitic.

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