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With All Israelis IDF Veterans, Public Apathy Over Israeli War Machine is Near Universal

With All Israelis IDF Veterans, Public Apathy Over Israeli War Machine is Near Universal

With All Israelis IDF Veterans, Public Apathy Over Israeli War Machine is Near Universal
April 05
19:27 2019

Opinion — On March 25, Israel fired 72 rockets and hit 23 targets in Gaza, injuring at least two and destroying several houses in Gaza City.

This was in response to two rockets that hit Tel Aviv, wounding seven, the first time since 2014 that a rocket attack hit Tel Aviv — clearly not the status quo.

The Israeli government accused Hamas of carrying out these rocket attacks, an assumption, and accusation that Hamas firmly denies.

In many Western outlets, the media portrays this as a battle of equals in which blame lies on both sides. In reality, this is a lopsided, David-vs.-Goliath battle, with Israel ironically the Goliath. The Second Intifada in the early 2000s had heavy death tolls on both sides. In 2005 Israel enhanced its security measures and built more walls, thereby walling in Gaza and certain parts of the West Bank.

Since 2005, 23 out of every 24 deaths have been Palestinian. This becomes more alarming when one takes into account that there are twice as many Israelis as Palestinians.

The Israeli strategy is often referred to as “cutting the grass.” The idea is to have a never-ending conflict where every few years they kill as many Hamas fighters and Palestinians as they see fit. An excuse Israel often uses to justify killing hundreds and injuring thousands of unarmed Palestinians is that Hamas is simply using these innocent Palestinians as human shields.

It would make sense that Hamas fighters would be found amongst civilians because Hamas has only 200 to 400 active fighters and about 1,000 reservists and trainees, while the population of Gaza is 1.9 million.

With a tight grip around the throat of the Palestinian people in Gaza, Israel gives Gazans just enough room to squirm and attempt a fight for their basic humanity. The moment the people of Gaza rose up for the Great March of Return in 2018, in the span of several weeks Israel killed hundreds and wounded thousands of Gazan men, women and children.

 

Source of Israeli apathy

So why don’t Israelis care?

Unlike in Gaza, where the vast majority of the population isn’t affiliated with Hamas, in Israel both men and women at age 18 are forced into compulsory military service. Men must serve three years and women a year and a half. A key part of the training is learning to hate and fear the enemy. The enemy sometimes is a foreign group like Hezbollah, but most often is the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Most Israelis don’t have much sympathy for Palestinians. A recent poll showed that 53 percent of Israelis thought Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent bombardment of Gaza following the rocket attack was “too weak” while only 3 percent believed it to be excessive.

Rockets notwithstanding, a Jerusalem Post reporter declared Israel to be the safest place in the world. She crunched the numbers. When comparing the crime statistics of “terror”-related crime in Israel with street crime in the major cities of London and New York City, she concluded that “Israel is still probably the safest place in the world, particularly for Jews.”

She’s right too, especially with that modifier “Jews.” When compared to London, Israel as an entire country had less “terror” and street crime in a six month period than London had in a one month period by a large margin.

 

Max Steinberg’s Birthright Israel seduction

“Birthright Israel” is a marketing campaign to entice Jews from around the world to emigrate to Israel. If Israel is constantly in an on-again-off-again war with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, the country will need more soldiers and more Zionist supporters. Enter Max Steinberg, who was conned by the glorified time-share presentation put on by the state of Israel. Except Birthright comes complete with free military training. So Steinberg, an American Jew, joined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and went off to battle in Gaza where he was killed by a Hamas militant.

Max Steinberg | Israel

Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of Max Steinberg during his funeral in Jerusalem, July 23, 2014. Oded Balilty | AP

Writing for Slate, Allison Benedikt puts Steinberg’s death in perspective and includes all of the ways the Birthright guides wish to mold the Jewish youth that attend:

At some point during their all-expenses-paid, ten-day trip to a land where, as they are constantly reminded, every mountain and valley is inscribed with 5,000 years of their people’s history, [there is] ‘the moment’ — the moment when participants realize just how important Israel is to them, to their fundamental identity, and how important they are to Israel.”

Benedikt pulls no punches in her blame of Birthright for indoctrinating and arming Max. She continues to be baffled both by Birthright and by the young man who died for a country, not his own, that he was tethered to. She continues:

Maybe Max was especially lost, or especially susceptible, or maybe he was just looking to do some good and became convinced by his Birthright experience that putting on an IDF uniform and grabbing a gun was the way to do it. That serving and protecting the Jewish people was the moral thing to do, and that the best way to accomplish it was to go fight for the Jewish state. It turns out that it’s not that hard to persuade young people to see the world a certain way and that Birthright is very good at doing it. You spend hundreds of millions of dollars to convince young Jews that they are deeply connected to a country that desperately needs their support? This is what you get.”

It’s heavily implied in this paragraph that Max died for nothing. With a focused eye, it’s clear that he had no right to be in Gaza in the first place alongside an army that blatantly violates international law. But it’s possible that Max didn’t die for nothing. He may, in fact, have become an armor-piercing bullet point in a new edition of a Birthright pamphlet. His story teaches young Jews that their bond with a besieged, disputed plot of land is so strong that some are willing to pay the ultimate price.

They pay the ultimate price to fight the Palestinians and keep them from having the crumbs from the table. Let alone a seat at it.

Top Photo | A Jewish boy wears costume as an Israeli soldier while a Palestinian man walks by as settlers participate in the annual parade marking the Jewish holiday of Purim in the Israeli occupied part of the West Bank city of Hebron, March 21, 2019. Ariel Schalit | AP

Nick Rehwaldt is a MintPress News intern. He is an author, artist, and standup comedian focused on political issues, with much of his material ripped from the headlines on any given week. He’s also a proud non-voter and global citizen who happens to live in the U.S.

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