Their chests puffed out with importance, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced to the media and the public the start of another war, this time in Gaza. As was to be expected, the two waved the time-worn excuse of “a war of no choice,” and as was to be expected, politicians from Kadima and the Labor Party also grabbed onto this excuse; from their point of view, bombing the Gaza Strip is a reason to salute the government.
Experience has taught us time and again that at the start of every war, the government declares festively that this time there will be an end to the firing of rockets on Israeli towns and villages. But then every time yet another war comes around that is supposed to solve the problem “once and for all.” Lies follow deception, which follows the intoxicating illusion of power.
In the past year, Netanyahu and his partners prepared us for a big military campaign against Iran, explaining to us time after time that Iran is an “existential threat.” But for a war against Iran, it is still necessary to have an American partner, and that partner, so far, has not given Netanyahu the go-ahead, and thus, as he announced, the war against Iran has been delayed until the spring.
But meanwhile there are elections; Netanyahu and Barak apparently said to themselves, So if there is no war against Iran, how can we arrange things in a way that suits an election campaign by the right-wing coalition partners, which embrace the settlers on the one hand and the families of the tycoons on the other? So here, with perfect timing, organized precisely now, just two months before the elections, comes an escalation in the south: Bombing led to the firing of missiles, which led to bombing, and so on and so forth.
Even the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak government knows that the bombing of Gaza, and even an invasion, by the IDF will not solve any problems. It is worth recalling that on November 27, 2008, Barak – who was also defense minister then, in Ehud Olmert’s government – declared the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, that war that was supposed to deal Hamas a decisive beating. And now, four years later, this same Barak is again waging war, and again on Gaza. And now, again, they are stuffing us full of the wonders of assassinations and destruction, so long as they can fool the Israeli public that this time the problem will be solved.
But the similarity between the war that has just begun and Operation Cast Lead is not merely the bluff that it will be a matter of “bang and we’re finished.” Both now and in 2008, the war had a transparent political aim: to inflame the public atmosphere and in this way get more votes in the Knesset elections. Therefore a suitable name for the war that has just started is “Operation Peace for Netanyahu,” or, if you prefer, “Operation Peace for Netanyahu and Barak,” and not the rather poetic name, “Pillar of Cloud.”
War always was, and still is, a very powerful tool for wiping social problems off the table, for hiding the worsening housing crisis and the daily price increases for basic commodities, as well as for justifying the harsh spending cuts in the 2013 budget. In short, they tell us: Sit quietly and let us waste another NIS 15 billion on another war, and then let us justify the budget cuts still to come in unemployment benefits, child allowances, hospital care, education and infrastructure.
Sometimes I wonder: How much longer the two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, will have to suffer until the penny drops we finally understand that military force does not solve the problem of rockets on Israeli communities, and does not ensure a tranquil childhood for the children of Sderot and Ashkelon?
During the last war, Operation Cast Lead, we chanted at demonstrations: “In Gaza and Sderot, the children want to live.” I hereby commit myself to continue chanting that same cry for life in the demonstrations we shall hold against the present war, and on behalf of peace between Israel and the Palestinian state that will arise alongside it.