Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Fish Stinks From Its Head

Lest anyone misunderstand, I was not, in my previous blog entry on T-Shirts, blaming the youth, the common for soldier, for the increased brutality of the Gaza campaign. Their aggressive and vicious ethos is itself a symptom of the increased coarseness, anger, and self-righteousness of Israeli society as a whole. These young soldiers are trained to these attitudes by the officer corp, who are backed up by the mood of much of the civilian leadership.

Today's Ha'artez reports:
On Saturday, Channel 10 showed a documentary that included a security briefing by a company commander on the eve of the Gaza invasion.

"We're going to war," he told his soldiers. "We're not doing routine security work or anything like that. I want aggressiveness - if there's someone suspicious on the upper floor of a house, we'll shell it. If we have suspicions about a house, we'll take it down."

"There will be no hesitation," the commander continued. "If it's us or them, it'll be them. If someone approaches us unarmed, shoot in the air. If he keeps going, that man is dead. Nobody will deliberate - let the mistakes be over their lives, not ours."

I myself reported that the IDF was planning, as long ago as this past September, increased aggressiveness and the targeting of civilians as part of its strategic doctrine. This from the highest levels of the Israeli military.

And, of course, it is the political leadership that perpetuates the occupation and exasperates the daily lives of the Palestinians, thus increasing the resistance, thus increasing the violence, thus increasing the violent response, thus hardening the hearts (on both sides), thus increasing hatred, stereotyping, and callousness, thus increasing the incidents of violence and torment, thus increasing ...

The aggressive viciousness of the common soldiers is thus both a cause and an effect of the whole sorry mess. It is not that different then the shocking pictures we see of young Palestinians shouting hateful slogans about the Israelis.

Schar averah, averah. And, if we don't do something concerted to end this "viscous spiral" (or is it a "spiral of viciousness",) it will continue. We can start by loudly and effectively condemning it. But that would require strong and moral leadership: see headline.


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