“Obama, B’ona,” says Israel


Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house—Genesis 12:1


By www.roitov.com


“B’ona B’ona” says the girl in threatening slang, “Obama’s Court in Israel,” adds the text at the bottom
“B’ona” is threatening slang for “Bo Ena,” “come here” in Hebrew Martial Arts For Dummies

The day after Israel laughed at Obama, things got awry. Not on the formal level; American flags are larger than ever, Netanyahu’s baritone is deeper than ever, and Palestinian despair is sadder than ever. Israel sends messages not through noisy headlines, those eternal decoys, but through sad songs reproduced in the inner pages. Don’t listen to Netanyahu’s formal speech, but look what his aide told another irrelevant person and was reproduced in an inconspicuous page of the newspaper.

That is the real message, an odd variant on Hebrew peculiarities. Inner pages disclose a different reality, one in which Israel is angry at Obama. After laughing at him, Israel is threatening. The banner opening this article was published by newspaper Haaretz, the unofficial voice of the Shin Beth secret police, on March 21, 2013. In no way, it can be considered innocent. “B’ona B’ona” says the girl in threatening slang and in a martial arts pose. “Bo Ena,” means “come here” in Hebrew. In that language, the State of Israel is feminine. OK, Haaretz, we are here. Let see you defend yourself.

Heating Up the Theatre

The Hebrew headline reproduced above belongs to The Hebrew headline reproduced above belongs to Yedioth Ahronoth, the largest non-free Hebrew newspaper. It reads: “Syria: Victims brought to the Land [Israel], ‘To Investigate Chemical Weapons.'” Even sticking to Hebrew loose rules, while reading it, one gets the impression that Syrians were hit by chemical weapons and then brought to Israel in order to investigate the unconventional weapons used.

That is not the case. The article purposely mixed up two different events. On the day Obama arrived in Israel, four Syrians were hit by a conventional mortar, near the border with Israel. They were captured by the IDF and were sent to an Israeli hospital. Two were returned on the same day to Syria, two were left behind. Probably Israel retrieved an injured informant in such a way. Entwined in this story is a different one. On the same day, Syria claimed that the rebels fired a chemical missile. Russia backs the Syrian claim, the USA opposes it. The article says that the issue must be investigated. This is a not very smart and not very subtle propaganda attempt. Considering the other news accompanying Obama in his visit, this seems to be a coordinated effort.

The video to the left is one of the many reports on four Qassam missiles that Israel claim were fired from Gaza towards Sderot on March 21. It shows the place where one of them hit. None of them caused victims. Please note that the one in the video barely scratched the sidewalk and left a dark spot on the wall. The event shows again that the Iron Dome interception capabilities are far weaker than advertised by the IDF. It was an impressive touch of drama to Obama’s visit.

The President had just visited an Iron Dome battery. Would this end in additional American funds to the antimissiles project? Who shot the dumb missile in a time-space favorable exclusively to Israel? The answer was probably given by, according to Yedioth Ahronoth, a “senior national source” [usual code for “Prime Minister,” when he doesn’t want to be identified]. The source said, “The Israeli reaction will arrive at the right timing and place.” Soon after Air Force 1 will leave Israeli territory, Gaza will probably be attacked again.

In one of the reports, a resident of Sderot said: “Obama is here, the ‘red color’ was expected.” “Red Color” is the code name announced over loudspeakers when the launching of a missile is detected. During the 1991 Iraq War, the code used was “Cobra Snake.” Back then, the television broadcast were interrupted, and amidst a siren, one could hear: “nahash tzefa.” In this case, Israel shouted at one snake while referring to a different one, which it cannot address directly on the issue.

President Obama in Ramallah

B’ona, Israel

Below the niceties level, Israel is heating up the theatre, creating an unpleasant image of subtle violence and escalation. Why? Obama is not Netanyahu’s favorite cup of tea. This is well known and extensively reported. Yet, personal relations are not enough to explain the complex events we are witnessing. The answer is in the image above. While visiting Mahmud Abas, President of the State of Palestine, in Ramallah, President Obama said:

“Palestinians deserve a state.” “Palestinians deserve the end of the occupation,” he also said. This happens in days when Israel is pushing forward the One State solution and has even recruited Jordan to the complex task of expelling the Palestinians from the West Bank. In this scenario, Obama’s words weren’t friendly to the Israeli Administration. Four missiles were fired. The missiles missed; their message hit.

“B’ona B’ona, Israel,” we are ready.


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Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards. In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.