On the eve of Israel’s 61th Independence Day last week, the Israeli police arrested six Israeli Jewish feminist political activists, members of New Profile, the Movement for the Civil-isation of Israeli society, including a 70-year-old woman, for assisting young Israelis to evade conscription.
The police entered the activists’ home, confiscated their computers and the computers of their partners, detained them for questioning because of their support for young people who declare themselves conscientious objectors, a status not recognized by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Indeed, many draft dodgers have served jail sentences.
Just a day after the revelations about what Israeli soldiers really did in Gaza came the story about the Jaffa T shirt factory, where 500 T shirts per month with dead babies, mothers weeping on their children’s graves, a gun aimed at a child and a bombed-out mosque accompanies with slogans such as ‘better use Durex’ (next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby with his weeping mpther and a teddy bear beside him), ‘1 shot, 2 kills’, (beside a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s eye superimposed on her belly), and ‘no matter how it begins, we’ll put an end to it’ (Uri Blau, Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques – IDF fashion 2009 – Haaretz – Israel News). Haaretz reports plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages, such as a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, ‘Bet you got raped!’
A few of the images describe actions whose existence the army officially denies – such as ‘confirming the kill’ (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim’s head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants.
The war in Gaza is entering its seventh day with the Israeli ground surge in force as I write. I feel entirely helpless and nearly immobilised by rage.
But reading Ilan Pappe’s ‘Israel’s righteous fury and its victims in Gaza’ in Electronic Intifada helps to make sense of the murderous attack. My work on the commemoration of the Nakba by Israelis links me to the need, as Pappe, argues, to historicise this conflict from its inception, and the Zionist ideology which has engendered ethnic cleansing and the dehumanisation of Palestinians ever since 1948 and before.
Pappe writes: ‘Israel is engulfed once more with righteous fury that translates into destructive policies in the Gaza Strip. This appalling self-justification for the inhumanity and impunity is not just annoying, it is a subject worth dwelling on, if one wants to understand the international immunity for the massacre that rages on in Gaza’.