As someone who has written literally millions of words related to the atomic bombings of Japan in 1945, it was disturbing to read assorted wishes for a similar fate (maybe minus the radiation) for Gazans as expressed by various prominent Israelis yesterday.
We’ll assume Israel will not actually use atomic weapons in this case, although we must note: They do possess them. Hopefully they have kept any potential Gen. Jack D. Rippers on a close leash.
Sound overstated? Gilad Sharon, son of former Israeli leader and noted hawk Ariel Sharon wrote an op-ed Sunday: “We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza…. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima—the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too…. This needs to end quickly—with a bang, not a whimper.”
Yes, it’s not likely that Gaza will be truly flattened—but then, it’s the thought that counts.
Now, it’s true that young Sharon is not in power himself—he’s merely a farmer and reservist in the IDF—so who cares? Well, then, you have the well-known Israeli Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, who says (as cited by Haaretz and others):
The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for 40 years.
Hey, why stop there? Why not go the Gen. Curtis LeMay route and call for bombing them right back to the Stone Age?
What might pause to recall when another prominent Israeli back in 2008 broke a taboo on using the word “shoah” or “holocaust” for anything but the Nazi exterminations but now applied to the Gazans. The speaker was Matan Vilnai, deputy defense minister.
Circulating widely is this video of an anti-Palestinian hate rally four days ago, featuring member of Knesset Michael Bar Ari. He’s the bearded fellow who keeps popping up, demanding that Gaza be “mowed.” At one point he complains—this is a few days ago—that the Israeli had launched hundreds of bombs but only killed fifteen. He advocates fifteen bombs—that will kill 2,000.
I have seen cited many other comments from Israelis in goverment or the media quoted online—usually along the lines of “razing Gaza” in some form—but I am still trying to verify them.
For now, you ought to check out new The New York Times column from Roger Cohen just posted online, citing “self-defeating Israeli military offensives of the past 16 years—Operation Grapes of Wrath in Lebanon, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and now Operation Pillar of Defense, all of them, not coincidentally, initiated on the eve of national elections in Israel.”
He IDs the same quote by Ariel Sharon’s son that I posted, and comments:
Atomic bombs, blackness, stillness, nothingness—Sharon allows himself to indulge the old Israeli dream that the Palestinian people should just disappear. But of course they do not. They regroup. They find new leaders. They endure with hatred of Israel reignited by loss.
The US Congress isolated in its blanket approval, Israel casting around for a plausible endgame as regional fury mounts. Is all this good for Israel? No. Unless good is defined as policies that radicalize the situation, erode middle ground, demonstrate the impossibility of agreement, and so facilitate continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the expansion of settlements there and the steady eclipse of the idea of a two-state peace. This may well be Netanyahu’s criteria for a tactical victory from Operation Pillar of Defense (along with victory for Likud on Jan. 22.).
Finally, he points to Aluf Benn, editor-in-chief of the Israeli daily Haaretz, who commented, “The assassination of Jabari will go down in history as another showy military action initiated by an outgoing government on the eve of an election.”
Then we have Nicholas Kristof’s tweet today in response to President Obama’s all-out, gushy backing of Israel in all aspects of the current crisis: “Obama comments on
#Gaza strike me as pathetic. US cld show a bit of concern for Gazans & strongly oppose ground invasion.”
Greg Mitchell is author of more than a dozen books. His latest, an ebook on the Obama-Romney race, is titled Tricks, Lies and Videotape, and contains over 600 clickable links.