The voice of joy, the voice of rejoicing is heard in Israel: The Americans and British have also committed for war crimes, not only us.
By Gideon Levy
The voice of joy, the voice of rejoicing is heard in Israel: The Americans and British have also committed for war crimes, not only us. WikiLeaks’ revelations have inflamed all our noisy propagandists: Where is Goldstone, they rejoiced, and what would he have said? They were relieved. If the Americans are allowed to do it, so are we.
Indeed, the Americans are not allowed, and neither are we. When the traffic police stop a driver for speeding, the argument that “others do it” will not help him. When Richard Goldstone exposes war crimes in Gaza, the claim that “everyone does it” will not help us. Not everyone does it, and when they do, they should be excoriated and penalized.
According to the logic of Israeli propagandists, some of whom are disguised as journalists, Israel should now proudly look at the rest of the world: They killed more people there. There is no need to improve prison conditions in Israel – in China the situation is much worse; there is no need to upgrade health services – in America 50 million people have no insurance; no need to reduce the gap between rich and poor – in Mexico it is greater; we can continue to assassinate without trial – the British also do it; human rights are protected here – the Iranians are much worse; Israel has no corruption – look what’s happening in Africa; the United States has the death penalty – let’s have it too; it is even permissible to kill dissident journalists – look at the Russians.
Yes, war is cruel, the world is full of crimes and injustice, but not one of them exonerates Israel, even if Israel’s sins seem pure as snow compared to those of the great United States. Now is the time to sharply censure America, not to forgive Israel.
It is the task of all patriots and people of conscience to express their fury over any such revelations, especially, of course, in their own country. Israelis must aspire to a more just and much more law-abiding country, without reference to what is going on in the world. True, we are not the worst; far from it. The number of civilians killed in Iraq, as was revealed, is a thousand times more horrific than the number killed in Gaza. So what? Even if the world holds us to a harsher standard, our hands do not become any cleaner. The world is more strict with us for various reasons, some justified, and at the same time treats us favorably and turns a blind eye to many other things. And in any case, the determining factor should be what we see in the mirror, if we look at it honestly.
Our rejoicing propagandists have changed their tactics now: no longer “the most moral army in the world,” a contention any reasonable person can see is ridiculous. Now they say: “We are terrible, like all the rest.” That claim does not hold water, especially because Israel is not judged only by one or another of its military operations, but by its decades-long occupation, with no end in sight. Such a lengthy occupation is unparalleled in the modern world and a disgrace to Israel, no matter what America is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.
WikiLeaks has proven that in the end the truth will out; it is hard to hide anything in this era. Goldstone also showed it, albeit much less dramatically. Some two years after Operation Cast Lead, even the Israel Defense Forces is still dealing with it here and there, investigating and trying officers and soldiers who did what the Goldstone report, which so infuriated Israel, said they did.
Israel should thank Goldstone, and America should thank Julian Assange. Their revelations prove the futility of war and its crimes. Imagine how much hatred America has sown in Iraq, with its thousands of mourning families, and how much hatred Israel has sown in Gaza, with its thousands of mourning families and its ruination.
How futile are all the assassinations and the torture, abuse and false arrests, with Iraq and Gaza looking as they do.
What are we brandishing? More than 100,000 dead in a terrible, useless war, the whim of a democratic leader? True, George W. Bush should now be sent to The Hague. But the fact that others are doing it, as Assange’s revelations show, is the consolation of fools, and theirs alone.