In the past week, the people of Gaza have been subject to some serious Israeli attacks. Some Hamas leaders and militants have been murdered and many more Palestinians – innocent civilians, babies, kids women and elders – have lost their live. Yet, Gaza is celebrating with the Hamas leadership never more popular.
So here is an interesting anecdote that deserves our attention. During the recent clashes Gazan militants launched more than 1500 rockets at Israel. These rockets caused rather limited damage with more than six Israeli fatalities. Militarily at least, this is far from a great achievement. And yet the Gazans are celebrating.
Would Israelis be happy to learn that 1500 of their rockets had had such limited effect? Would any western army accept such a result at such a cost? The answer is a categorical NO. But the Palestinians are ecstatic, why, because they know they have won the battle and are now set to win the war. They won the battle, not because they killed six Israelis – actually they would have won it without hitting one single Israeli. They won it because they managed to deliver a message to Israel, world Jewry and the whole world.
For many years I have argued that the Palestinian war of the rockets should be seen as sending a message: Israelis! You are on stolen land! You took our houses, villages, cities, fields and orchards. You pushed us into the desert. You surrounded us with barbed wire. You starve us and you kill us simply to suit your political ambitions. So this rocket is a message to you all. Think about us and then look at yourself in the mirror. Enough is enough!’
For more than six decades the Israelis have dismissed this message. They surrounded themselves with ghetto walls and have sealed their skies with an Iron Dome. However, with Tel Aviv now under attack, Israel and Israelis have been confronted with their original sin.
In the last two days, the entire Israeli media has admitted the colossal defeat of the so-called Operation Pillar of Cloud. Just yesterday, the Israeli right wing Ynet wrote “Hamas stood up and won almost all fronts…. Hamas has managed to turn focus on Gaza, it made it into the centre of the political discussion.” It seems that the most hawkish Israel government ever, has failed to beat either Hamas or the Palestinian spirit. The Palestinians are stronger than ever while the Jewish State has been exposed as an impotent manic-depressive collective driven by a neurotic and impotent leadership.
If Zionism was ever there to counter Jewish diaspora ghetto paralysis, just to ensure that ‘never again’ Jews would be ‘led like lamb to the slaughter’, Netanyahu, Barak and Liebermann have proved in the past week that paralysis is inherent to Jewish political culture. Like all bullies, they are obsessed with power, but when they meet defiance, their vile paradigm instantly collapses.
Speech can provides us with an insight into what we most lack. Speech can reveal that which we prefer to keep hidden. But speech is also often rather misleading, there to shape our lies into a truthful narrative. But it is these ‘true lies’ that provide an access to the fearful-self. It is these ‘true lies’ that reveal the unconscious. So, when, for instance Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists preach to us about Jewish ‘humanism and universalism’ they are obviously lying yet are they not also expressing a yearning for such an ethos to really exist in their own culture?
Similarly, when Israel refers to itself as ‘The only democracy in the Middle East’ it this not because Israel would really love to be such a true democracy? In other words, often, when we speak we demonstrate what we most lack i.e. that which we miss and desire, yet we cannot admit this to ourselves. When Netanyahu decided to designate his latest massacre as a Pillar of Cloud, he actually tried to disguise from himself and his people the fact that in reality, he is actually an impotent, and the cloud is actually one big duvet of lies, there only to conceal his shame.
Israel and the Israelis love to talk about their ‘power of deterrence’ – Israeli actions, there to deter Palestinians and Arabs from even contemplating the possibility of challenging the Jewish state. In fact, the entire Israeli foreign and military policy can be realised with reference to that power. Israel likes to see itself at the core of its neighbours’ anxiety. This explains the Israeli fascination with the accumulation of nuclear bombs and other WMDs. It explains the policy towards Iran and it also explains its brutal attitude towards the Palestinians.
Israelis are obsessed with ‘deterrence’ only because, deep down, they are aware of their own vulnerability. Israelis are fanatical about ‘deterrence’ because they know that when push comes to shove, they themselves are actually powerless. They are now exposed for what they are: a fragmented society dominated by egotistic hedonism. Israelis know that their underbelly is very soft indeed.
Israeli collective melancholia must be realised in the light of their inevitable encounter with their true nature. As Ynet admits, they have been defeated in almost every possible respect. As a society, they have been caught naked and their imaginary collective bond has proved to be a farce. In spite of Israel’s mighty, sophisticated army the Hamas leadership, together with the people of Gaza, remained defiant. In spite of relentless air raids, and till the very last moment, Hamas kept firing their rockets reminding Israelis what life in Gaza is really like.
When it seemed that the IAF had done its worst (but achieved so little), the Israeli government called on its 75.000 reservists, hoping against hope that such a move would bully Hamas into surrender. Again they were wrong. Ismail Haniah made things very clear when he invited the Israeli reservists to try their luck and enter the strip. Israel was caught with its trousers down – and believe me, the vision of their collective genitalia was not a pretty sight!
‘Unconscious is the discourse of the other’ says Lacan. The fear of impotence is not the fear that you may not be up to much in bed, it is actually the unconscious nightmare that everyone around you is saying behind your back that you’re not up to much in bed. Israelis not just now admitting their impotence to themselves, they are also aware of now being seen as a bunch of arrogant, cowardly and helpless barbarians.
By the time it became clear that the Pillar wasn’t even semi-erect and the Cloud couldn’t cover even that embarrassing truth, Netanyahu, Barak and Liebermann as well as the whole of Israeli society realised that nothing was left of Israel’s power of deterrence – for the Palestinians have lost their fear.
Gilad Atzmon is an Israeli-born British jazz saxophonist, novelist, political activist and writer.
Atzmon’s album Exile was BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. Playing over 100 dates a year, he has been called “surely the hardest-gigging man in British jazz.” His albums, of which he has recorded nine to date, often explore the music of the Middle East and political themes. He has described himself as a “devoted political artist.” He supports the Palestinian right of return and the one-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
His criticisms of Zionism, Jewish identity, and Judaism, as well as his controversial views on The Holocaust and Jewish history have led to allegations of antisemitism from both Zionists and anti-Zionists. A profile in The Guardian in 2009 which described Atzmon as “one of London’s finest saxophonists” stated: “It is Atzmon’s blunt anti-Zionism rather than his music that has given him an international profile, particularly in the Arab world, where his essays are widely read.”