July 17, 2006
"The Insane Brutality of the State of Israel"
Atrocities in the Promised Land
By KATHLEEN CHRISTISON
former CIA analyst
Words fail; ordinary terms are inadequate to describe the horrors Israel
daily perpetrates, and has perpetrated for years, against the Palestinians.
The tragedy of Gaza has been described a hundred times over, as have the
tragedies of 1948, of Qibya, of Sabra and Shatila, of Jenin -- 60 years of
atrocity perpetrated in the name of Judaism. But the horror generally falls
on deaf ears in most of Israel, in the U.S. political arena, in the
mainstream U.S. media. Those who are horrified -- and there are many --
cannot penetrate the shield of impassivity that protects the political and
media elite in Israel, even more so in the U.S., and increasingly now in
Canada and Europe, from seeing, from caring.
But it needs to be said now, loudly: those who devise and carry out Israeli
policies have made Israel into a monster, and it has come time for all of us
-- all Israelis, all Jews who allow Israel to speak for them, all Americans
who do nothing to end U.S. support for Israel and its murderous policies --
to recognize that we stain ourselves morally by continuing to sit by while
Israel carries out its atrocities against the Palestinians.
A nation that mandates the primacy of one ethnicity or religion over all
others will eventually become psychologically dysfunctional.
Narcissistically obsessed with its own image, it must strive to maintain its
racial superiority at all costs and will inevitably come to view any
resistance to this imagined superiority as an existential threat. Indeed,
any other people automatically becomes an existential threat simply by
virtue of its own existence. As it seeks to protect itself against phantom
threats, the racist state becomes increasingly paranoid, its society closed
and insular, intellectually limited. Setbacks enrage it; humiliations madden
it. The state lashes out in a crazed effort, lacking any sense of
proportion, to reassure itself of its strength.
The pattern played out in Nazi Germany as it sought to maintain a mythical
Aryan superiority. It is playing out now in Israel. “This society no longer
recognizes any boundaries, geographical or moral,” wrote Israeli
intellectual and anti-Zionist activist Michel Warschawski in his 2004 book
Towards an Open Tomb: The Crisis of Israeli Society. Israel knows no limits
and is lashing out as it finds that its attempt to beat the Palestinians
into submission and swallow Palestine whole is being thwarted by a
resilient, dignified Palestinian people who refuse to submit quietly and
give up resisting Israel’s arrogance.
We in the United States have become inured to tragedy inflicted by Israel,
and we easily fall for the spin that automatically, by some trick of the
Israeli atrocities to examples of how Israel is victimized. But a military
establishment that drops a 500-pound bomb on a residential apartment
building in the middle of the night and kills 14 sleeping civilians, as
happened in Gaza four years ago, is not a military that operates by
A military establishment that drops a 500-pound bomb on a house in the
middle of the night and kills a man and his wife and seven of their
children, as happened in Gaza four days ago, is not the military of a moral
A society that can brush off as unimportant an army officer’s brutal murder
of a 13-year-old girl on the claim that she threatened soldiers at a
military post -- one of nearly 700 Palestinian children murdered by Israelis
since the intifada began -- is not a society with a conscience.
A government that imprisons a 15-year-old girl -- one of several hundred
children in Israeli detention -- for the crime of pushing and running away
from a male soldier trying to do a body search as she entered a mosque is
not a government with any moral bearings. (This story, not the kind that
ever appears in the U.S. media, was reported in the London Sunday Times. The
girl was shot three times as she ran away and was convicted to 18 months in
prison after she came out of a coma.)
Critics of Israel note increasingly that Israel is self-destructing, nearing
a catastrophe of its own making. Israeli journalist Gideon Levy talks of a
society in “moral collapse.”
Michel Warschawski writes of an “Israeli madness” and “insane brutality,” a
“putrefaction” of civilized society, that have set Israel on a suicidal
course. He foresees the end of the Zionist enterprise; Israel is a “gang of
hoodlums,” he says, a state “that makes a mockery of legality and of civil
morality. A state run in contempt of justice loses the strength to survive.”
As Warschawski notes bitterly, Israel no longer knows any moral boundaries
-- if it ever did. Those who continue to support Israel, who make excuses
for it as it descends into corruption, have lost their moral compass.
Kathleen Christison is a former CIA political analyst and has worked on
Middle East issues for 30 years. She is the author of Perceptions of
Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.