The public debate in this country about the Gaza crisis has some familiar features. The public at large deems Israel's actions as war crimes, while the government and mainstream media justify Israel’s action as self-defence. One of the main reasons for this gap seems to be that social activists know Israel much better than the politicians, diplomats and some of the journalists whose business it is to engage with Israel and its policies.
The activists’ presence on the ground, and the reports they post on the internet, provide a far more nuanced insight into the Israeli psyche and mentality that can explain Israeli policies in Gaza beyond the conventional mainstream’s political analysis. Two examples within this short space are enough to demonstrate this observation.
The first is the present drive among infertile Jewish parents to seek the sperm of the combatant elite units who fought in Gaza. This is to ensure the purest and most supreme DNA possible for their prospective children. And it is fully supported by the official Israeli Sperm Bank.
To be honest, these soldiers did not do too well in the battlefield. Conventional armies are inept when it comes to battling face-to-face with desperate guerrillas dug deep in tunnels and bunkers. Possibly the HAMAS DNA would have been a bit more fitting for this purpose, if one wishes to take ad absurdum this Israeli Jewish obsession with human engineering.
It was bad enough to base the whole Zionist idea on the wish to create an exclusive and supremacist Jewish democracy, in a land where the Jews were not and are not going to be ever such a majority (unless they genocide the local population). But now we are faced with a society that seems to be taking this obsession one step further. The rising demand for IDF sperm suggests that Israelis don't just have a desire for absolute Jewish majority, but one of the highest quality: the quality you find in the elite units that devastated a huge civilian space called Gaza.
On the internet you can also find a questionnaire distributed among soldiers of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) inquiring about their experiences during Protective Edge operation. One of the five questions in it asks: “Tell us about something funny that happened to you in the operation”. It also asks the respondent to write “something I learned about myself during the operation”.
Can one imagine such a questionnaire distributed among the half million Gazans who became refugees or anyone else living there under a month long barrage of F-16s, heavy artillery, guns ships and tanks?
I am not a great believer in the power of the Hamas to change the reality by launching missiles. But I have been in Israel during the operation, and have realised that despite the natural fear these fire crackers create among the public, most Israelis generally regard the conflict as a highly excited adventure.
The picture on the other side could not have been more different. It is a picture of mass killing, including hundreds of dead children and ten thousand wounded people – most of them civilians. It is also a picture of destruction, with entire swathes of urban and rural infrastructure blown to pieces. And it is the continued ghettoization of the most densely populated area in the world. None of this is an adventure; nothing funny could have happened to the Palestinians here.
This “fun” society inspired by visions of ethnic purity and supremacy is not only a danger to itself or the Palestinians. The unconditional support it receives from the West is a crucial factor in the region’s overall instability.
It was Sir Thomas Rapp, the most senior British Diplomat in the Middle East who warned his boss, Ernest Bevin in 1950 of the danger of such a biased pro-Israeli position: “The younger generation [in Israel] is being brought up in an environment of militarism and thus a permanent threat to Middle East tranquillity is thereby being created and Israel would thus tend to move away from the democratic way of life to totalitarianism of the right or the left”. His prophetic warning unfolds daily in front of my eyes here in Israel.