Rattling the Cage: We got out of Gaza, didn’t we?

We don’t know what’s going on in the Strip, we don’t know what we’re doing to the people there, and we don’t care.

April 13, 2011 22:57
4 minute read.
Soldiers walk by the school bus hit by a missile.

School bus anti tank attack 311. (photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)


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Do people here know that we’ve prevented trucks from delivering cooking oil, flour or sugar to Gaza since last Thursday, when Hamas fired an anti-tank missile at a school bus, gravely injuring a 16- year-old boy? Do people here know or care what we do to Gaza’s civilians?

No, of course not. We’re too busy quoting Richard Goldstone that “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy” in Operation Cast Lead. (The lone crossing for trucks into Gaza reopened Wednesday morning, but UNRWA says there were no drivers available to make the deliveries because it was notified way too late.)

Do Israelis know how many Gazan civilians were killed in the IDF strikes after the bus attack? No again. (The IDF says two, but how does it know? There are no Israeli soldiers on the ground to do a body count. Just from a couple of foreign media reports out of Gaza, I’ve read interviews with family members of three dead civilians.)

We don’t know what’s going on in Gaza, we don’t know what we’re doing to the people there, and we don’t care. All we know or care about is when Israelis get hurt or killed – and when that happens, it seems to come completely out of the blue. Last Thursday was a nice day, everything was peaceful, everybody was happy, then boom – Hamas fires an anti-tank missile at a school bus and the boy and the driver are in the hospital.

Aiming at a school bus – at children – is as wrong as wrong gets. Hamas says it didn’t know it was a school bus, the IDF says Hamas had to know because it was yellow.I don’t know. At the very least, though, Hamas knew it was aiming at a bus and that it could very well be carrying civilians.

A terrible thing. A ruthless assault. But the unmentioned fact is that Jews in the pre-state Zionist underground movements blew up Arab buses, as well as markets, cafes and train stations, in tit-for-tat acts of terror. Shlomo Ben-Yosef, who threw a grenade at an Arab bus in the North (this particular one didn’t go off and the bus drove on), was among the dozen “Olei Hagardom,” fighters hanged by the British, who are memorialized annually in the Knesset and on street signs all over the country. But forget it; let’s concentrate on how the Palestinian Authority incites terror by naming town squares and soccer tournaments after suicide bombers.

DO ISRAELIS know or care that the Gazans’ airspace is under our control, not theirs? Do they know or care that the Gazans’ seacoast is under our control, not theirs – and that we sometimes shoot and kill fishermen who go out further than we allow? No ships enter or leave Gaza, no planes, either, and trucks only on a limited basis, subject to our approval. This didn’t start when Hamas took over, or with the second intifada, or with the first; it started with Israel’s conquest of the Strip and all its inhabitants, now numbering 1.5 million, in the Six Day War. I could be talking about the situation in Equatorial Guinea for all people around here know or care. Nineteen dead in Gaza since the bus attack, the media report. Nineteen dead what? Nineteen dead plants, they might as well tell us. It has zero meaning for us.

Can you imagine if 19 Israelis – civilians, soldiers or both – were killed by Hamas in the space of a few days? We would notice, and so would the rest of the world. But 19 Gazans? The world notices, we don’t. To us, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about the suffering they cause us. Period. Nothing else happens in this conflict.

We know about the one Israeli being held prisoner by the Palestinians – Gilad Schalit. Do we know, or care, or consider it at all relevant that we are holding about 8,000 Palestinians prisoner? Another meaningless detail, don’t clog up your head with it.

We say the world doesn’t know what’s going on over here, only Israelis do. We’ve got it backward – the world, standing at a distance, sees both sides. It sees who’s doing what to whom, and rightly puts the blame largely on Israel, the conqueror, not the Palestinians, the conquered.

Only Israelis, alone in the world, don’t know what’s going on. We only know the far lesser share of suffering that’s fallen to us in the era of occupation; the far greater share that’s fallen to the Palestinians escapes us completely.

And so we’ll blame the next war on them, too. It’s true: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

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