Little Ahmadinejads

By Gideon Levy

Ram Caspi has written an article. From the heights of his apartment in Tel Aviv’s David Towers, the prominent lawyer has suggested strangulating the Gaza Strip. In the financial daily Globes of May 25, he called for, “neither a land incursion nor an aerial attack, but the creation of a noose … From the moment that rocket number eight is fired, the government of Israel will act to cut Gaza off from the essential infrastructure systems of fuel, water, electricity and telephones, and will prevent others from providing these utilities to Gaza.

” In other words: to cut a million and a half people off from the sources of life. Caspi is a successful attorney, who comes and goes in the tabernacles of justice and rule, a man who moves about in the highest reaches of Israeli society. Not a hair on his head has been mussed as a result of his satanic proposal. This man of the law who incites for the violation of international law has not been chastised. No one has shunned him in the wake of his words. The season for racism, collective punishment and verbal violence is at its height. What was once the reserve of nutcases on the right, the talkbackers and the loony listeners to the call-in radio programs, is now politically correct, in the heart of the consensus, the dernier cri in the violent and overheated Israeli discourse.

Caspi is not alone. Satan is no longer to be found only in Tehran — he is alive and kicking here in our midst. Israel is being inundated by a murky stream of little blue-and-white Ahmadinejads: If the president of Iran proposes to destroy Israel, they, who are smaller than he, are proposing only to “eradicate” villages, “flatten” them, starve entire populations and in fact to kill them.

There is no difference, in principle or morally, between the Iranian original and his Israeli imitators. The racist and bullying philosophy of Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman and his ilk has unleashed its malignant tentacles into the heart of society. Meir Kahane, who made proposals more moderate than these, found himself shunned; Caspi continues to advise the top people in the country on legal matters.

This ugly and appalling phenomenon had its beginnings last summer, during the Second Lebanon War. “We are allowed to have another Kfar Kana, we are allowed to destroy everything,” said the justice minister at the time, Haim Ramon, the man who was in charge of maintaining the law. Trade and Industry Minister Eli Yishai, a representative of a religious party that has a “spiritual” leadership, did not lag behind him: He proposed targeting infrastructure in Lebanon and “flattening” villages.

These two calls to commit war crimes did not emerge from the mouths of representatives of the extreme right. Ramon and Yishai have remained legitimate spokesmen. Nor did the generals keep quiet: “Grind Lebanon. Turn it into a museum of the incubation of terror,” proposed a former chief of Northern Command headquarters, Brigadier General (Res.) Rafi Noy, a desired interviewee in the studios.

The Qassams on Sderot presaged the disgusting continuation, this time in poetry as well. “If not the roof beams, destroy the foundations … Attack Lebanon and also Gaza with plows and with salt, destroy them so no inhabitant remains. Transform them into barren desert, piles of rubble … kill them, spill their blood, frighten the living,” wrote poet Ilan Scheinfeld, who has recently published a novel whose boycott no one has called for.

Former chief rabbi Mordechai Eliahu has called for returning fire on homes; Minister of Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan has proposed that Israel manufacture a domestic version of the Qassam and launch it on Gaza; Public Security Minister Avi Dichter has said that targeted assassinations are not enough; his successor at the Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, has complained that “in Beit Lahiya and in Beit Hanoun they are living in tranquility;” our old acquaintance Lieberman has proposed a hit on the quarter where Gaza City’s well-off reside for every hit on Sderot; Major General (Res.) Amiram Levin has called for dividing the Gaza Strip into squares, and after every Qassam destroying one; former justice minister Yosef Lapid supported this proposal; former chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon, the progenitor of the theory of “consciousness-searing,” has proposed “cleansing the territory;” Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal has said that he prefers “a dead child in Gaza to a dead child in Sderot,” and a bereaved father from the Second Lebanon War, Ami Schreier, has called for the wiping out of a neighborhood in Gaza, with advance warning of three hours, for every Qassam. Not one of them has been castigated for his words, not one of them shunned.

This is what we look like. This is our moral portrait.


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