Likening Palestinians to Blades of Grass

Exclusive: Israeli hardliners joke about the periodic need to decimate each new generation of Palestinian militants as “mowing the grass,” a process underway again in new bombardments of Gaza. This ugly metaphor has also penetrated the think-tank world of Official Washington, as ex-CIA analyst Elizabeth Murray learned.

By Elizabeth Murray

In early 2010, one of Washington DC’s most prestigious think tanks was holding a seminar on the Middle East which included a discussion of Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 assault on Gaza which killed about 1,300 Palestinians. When the death toll was mentioned, one expert on the panel smiled enigmatically and intoned: “It’s unfortunate, but every once in a while you have to mow the lawn.”

The remark, which likened killing hundreds of men, women and children many of them noncombatants with trimming the grass, was greeted with a light tittering around the room, which was filled with some of Washington’s most elite, highly educated and well-paid Middle East experts. Not a single one objected to the panelist’s black humor.

An Israeli strike caused a huge explosion in a residential area in Gaza during the Israeli assault on Gaza in 2008-2009. (Photo credit: Al Jazeera)

On the contrary, several analysts and experts were grinning at the reference to Israel’s strategy of mounting periodic attacks on the Palestinians to cull each new generation of militants. Such is the nonchalance of Washington’s policy-advising cognoscenti toward the ongoing and systematic genocide of Gaza’s oppressed population.

The cavalier language is symptomatic of the policymaking community’s increasingly pervasive tendency to disregard and disparage the humanity of Palestinian victims of Israeli attacks, which are often waged by Israel’s high-tech drones and U.S.-supplied F-16’s. There is also a tendency to ignore or downplay Israeli war crimes.

This dangerously sociopathic attitude is prevalent whether cloaked in a cheap joke or reflected in the failure by the State Department spokesman to condemn or even acknowledge the criminality of Israel’s latest aerial and sea-based bombardment of Palestinian civilians, at least 18 of whom have been killed in the past 48 hours. Three Israelis also have died in retaliatory rocket fire.

After the latest attacks, the State Department’s statement justified Israel’s bombardment of Gaza as Israel’s “right to defend itself” against the launching of relatively primitive rockets, mostly by radical groups, from inside Gaza. Yet, while the State Department urged both sides to avoid civilian casualties, nowhere was there mention of the Palestinians’ right to defend themselves from various attacks by Israel. Apparently only one side is granted that privilege, according to the U.S. statement.

The relegation of Palestinians to a less-than-human status by Israel and the United States especially the inhabitants of Gaza who are perpetually locked into an open-air prison and subject to an Israeli blockade was noted by MIT professor Noam Chomsky after a visit to Gaza to attend an academic conference. In comments broadcast by “Democracy Now” on Nov. 14, Chomsky remarked:

“It’s kind of amazing and inspiring to see people managing somehow to survive as essentially caged animals subject to constant, random, sadistic punishment – only to humiliate them – no pretext. They [the Palestinians] would like to have dignified lives, but the standard Israeli position is that they shouldn’t raise their heads.”

Instead of a serious effort to reach a peace acceptable to both sides, Israel seems to prefer a state of endless conflict with the Palestinians. After all, the prospect of peace might require the Israeli government to treat their neighbors as equals and withdraw from territory occupied since 1967.

So, rather than making meaningful concessions, some Israeli hardliners simply promote the idea of periodically “mowing the grass,” i.e. killing the latest generation of Palestinian militants who sprout up from the injustice all around them. Perhaps that is why Israel broke an informal ceasefire on Wednesday by assassinating Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari in an air strike.

Jabari was killed hours after he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the ceasefire, according to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate talks between Israel and Hamas for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Jabari was a key Palestinian interlocutor in the release of Shalit, and an important intermediary for truce negotiations with groups such as the PFLP and Islamic Jihad. Such a relatively moderate figure may have been perceived as a threat to Israeli leaders who prefer to portray Hamas as rejectionist toward any peace.

These developments and the U.S. response to them are a chilling omen for those who had hoped for a change in U.S. Middle East policy after the U.S. presidential election – namely, increased pressure on Israel to halt its cruel oppression of Palestinians and obey international law.

There is still a window of opportunity for the U.S. to shift its approach before the violence spirals out of control. One also can hope that President Barack Obama is working the phones to rein in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But Obama’s eerie and reprehensible silence during the Israeli assault on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 must not be repeated.

Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

image_pdfimage_print

25 comments for “Likening Palestinians to Blades of Grass

  1. Rehmat
    November 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Zionist Jews are morally drained cowards. They hate everyone who doesn’t agree with their Zionazi fascism – including their fellow Jews.

    Yehezkel Kaufman in article, titled “The Ruin of Soul” collected quotes from some of the Zionist writers (Frishman, Lenni Brenner, Berdichevsky, AD. Gordon, Schawadron, Klatzkin, Pinsker, Israel Joshua Singer, Chaim Kaplan, etc.), which if repeated on air – would get you fired from CNN, BBC, CBS, etc.

    Chaim Kaplan, who kept a diary during the Warsaw ghetto uprising, wrote his Jew-hating observation: “Every nation, in its time of misfortune, has conspirators who do their work in secret. In our case an entire nation has been raised on conspiracy. With others the conspiracy is political; with us it is religious and national”.

    http://rehmat1.com/2010/11/21/anti-semitic-roots-of-zionism/

    • Mark G
      November 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      She obviously wanted to wake up the next day over being in a body bag. Its long known that those who accuse top officials end up having accidents. So its one of self preservation.

    • John
      November 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      I just heard the reporter on CNN say something to the effects that some of the people here in Israel refer to it as “mowing the lawn”. It’s 11/21/12 3:11PM CST. This happened in the last half hour. The reporter was in Israel, reporter was male.

  2. Robert Locke
    November 16, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Why did Elizabeth Murray NOT give us the name of the “expert on the panel” who made the “mow the lawn” remark?

    Why did she NOT give the name of the “prestigious think tank”.

    Since not a single member of the panel objected, while some tittered, why did she not give us all the names of all the participants.

    Was she herself there? If not, why does she not give us the name of the person who told her the story?

    Or is it apocryphal?

    It is such a Nazi-like horror story that the author needs to give herself some credibility by such attributions as these.

    Although I tend to agree with everything else she has said from my own observations through the last decade or so of Israeli’s Nazi-like attitudes towards and actions against Palestine and Lebanon and other players in the Middle East, I would REALLY like some better details than this article gives us.

    • UnSabbath
      November 17, 2012 at 10:22 am

      Robert,
      although it would be better for the author to give the details you mentioned, perhaps the point is to dig deeper… for some reason, this story almost rings true. Maybe it’s just a metaphor or something, who fucking knows?

      Gettin’ real fed up with B/S ’round these parts…

    • Mark G
      November 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm

      She obviously wanted to wake up the next day over being in a body bag. Its long known that those who accuse top officials end up having accidents. So its one of self preservation.

      (Could the board mod choose a better word press comments system as the separation is dire and I responded to what I thought was the right post (indicated by the arrow, apparently not!) as this causes confusion)

  3. Ruby22
    November 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    This sense of Israeli entitlement to murder any and all as it suits them, must be crushed until there is no spark left.
    Why isn’t this extra judicial execution the focus of this article? Who gave the Israelis the power to murder at whim.

    • paschn
      November 18, 2012 at 1:57 am

      The blow-flies in Western government/delusional evangelicals….told by their Central Bank shills to teach their “flocks” that they are “the Chosen” Oh, and they themselves……poor, downtrodden folks that they are.

      http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2006/05/10/the-shrinking-map-of-palestine/

      The maps at link above seem to tell a different story regarding whom is the aggressor and the oppressed.

  4. Martin Kich
    November 16, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    I used this metaphor in the following anti-war poem published in Pedestal Magazine in 2004:

    “Homely Metaphors for Slaughter”

    The axles of Assyrian chariots
    turned long, curved blades
    that cut through enemy foot soldiers
    and horsemen and horses
    like the food processor
    goes through cabbage.

    No–
    for though the cabbage bleeds,
    we call its life’s blood juice
    and simply wipe it up.
    For it is not the deep red
    of carnage, of agonies
    beyond the bloody record,
    beyond the grim catalog and count.

    For if a headless man becomes
    but briefly a fountain of gore,
    a headless cabbage is but
    a bare patch of ground.

    Two millennia later,
    in the Great War,
    men ran bent forward
    with their bayonets pointing upward,
    like blades of grass,
    only to be mown down by machine guns.

    And, indeed, the figure
    does make one reconsider
    the violence done to grass
    in the name of lawns–

    does make one wonder
    whether we might keep our children
    always small
    by lopping off their heads,

    as we have kept our young men
    always young.

  5. John
    November 16, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    What I find particularly irritating is that nobody stands up for international laws.
    There is the right of return, and I think many displaced Palestinians would accept compensation unless they are bogged down in MEast refugee camps.
    There was no international investigation into massacres at the Lebanese Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. An Israeli investigation found Sharon indirectly responsible when I’m sure he knew what would happen, and an American diplomat, I forget his name warned him of the outcome too. 1500 unprotected Palestinians killed and many un accounted for.
    Gaza is a prison. When Hamas was elected in the Gaza area, Dov Weisglass, advisor to Olmert, said, “The idea is to put the palestinians on a diet, but not make them hungry.” Well they are hungry, and reports by NGOs and the Red Cross state it so, with malnurished children, foul water, intermittent electricity and so on. Before the supression in food supplies, Gaza had about 170 trucks a day and now it is down to 67 (figures from Johnathan Cook – reporter). That is a crime against humanity, but international law is not brought in.
    Odd since Israel supported Hamas in the 80s to undermine a secular leadership under Arafat. And both Israel and the US have not tried to sit down and talk with Hamas. Hamas didn’t know it would win, it hadn’t planned on it and is green to that form of politics. Why not have seen where negotiation might have lead. Instead they armed the Palestinian opposition but they lost and this further isolated Hamas. Perhaps a fledgeling political group could bend if presented with a genuine effort to negotiate on Israel’s part.
    Extrajudicial assasinations are illegal but israel does it with civilain casualties, and international law is not brought in.
    Jewish settlers, many the equivalent of Islamic extremeists and using KKK like tactics, are pushing Palestinians off their land against international law and nothing is done. Pollard an Israeli spy in the US was giving secrets to the Israelis which were passed onto the Russians on the understanding that they would allow Russian Jews to immigate to Israel and fill the occupied territories (immigration from other parts of the world was to slow), cheap governmnet sponsored housing was offered. US secrets passed to the Russians, US agents compromized, international law broken and nobody does anything.
    Now Palestinains are being pushed out by Israeli government policy along the Jordan river whilst new Jewish settlements are going up. Nobody says anything. And this is now happening in Israel where predominantly Arab towns and cities are feeling the shove from aggresive (nasty) settlers. Nobody does anything.
    I can go on at nauseum, but what is happening lives up to Begurion’s word when partition was adopted, not to be greedy as we can get the rest later. As it was the majority Arabs (Christian and Muslim) were offered the least land and the minority, mostly immigrants got the best and the most. No wonder the Arabs rejected it.
    I hope Palestinians get an upgrade at the UN at the UN this December and that will give them access to the international courts. That threat is shaking Israeli and US politicians.

  6. John
    November 16, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    {I accidentally sent a quick draft – above}
    What I find particularly irritating is that nobody stands up for international laws.
    There is the right of return, and I think many displaced Palestinians would accept compensation unless they are bogged down in deplorable MEast refugee camps.
    There was no international investigation into massacres at the Lebanese Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. An Israeli investigation found Sharon indirectly responsible when I’m sure he knew what would happen, and an American diplomat, I forget his name, did warn him of the outcome too. 1500 unprotected Palestinians were killed and many are unaccounted for.
    Gaza is a prison. When Hamas was elected in the Gaza area, Dov Weisglass, advisor to Olmert, said, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not make them hungry.” Well they are hungry, and reports by NGOs and the Red Cross state it so, with malnourished children, foul water, intermittent electricity and so on. Before the suppression in food supplies, Gaza received about 170 truck loads a day and now it is down to 67 (figures from Jonathan Cook – reporter). That is a crime against humanity, but international law is not brought in.
    Today we have blowback from the Israel policy to support Hamas in the 80s in order to undermine the secular leadership of Arafat. And both Israel and the US have never tried to sit down and talk with Hamas. Hamas didn’t know it would win the election, it hadn’t planned on it and was green to that form of leadership. Why not have seen where negotiation might have lead. Instead they armed the Palestinian opposition which lost anyway and this further isolated Hamas from the outside. Perhaps this fledgeling political group could bend if presented with a genuine effort to negotiate on Israel’s part.
    Extrajudicial assassinations are illegal but Israel does it along with civilian casualties, and still international law is not brought in.
    Jewish settlers, many the equivalent of Islamic extremists and using KKK like tactics, are pushing Palestinians off their land against international law and nothing is done. Pollard an Israeli spy in the US was giving secrets to the Israelis which were passing it on to the Russians with the understanding that they would allow Russian Jews to immigrate to Israel and fill the occupied territories (immigration from other parts of the world was too slow), and be accommodated in cheap government sponsored housing. US secrets passed to the Russians, compromised US agents, and settlements on occupied land broke international law. Nobody does anything to support the laws.
    Now Palestinians are being pushed out by Israeli government policy along the Jordan river whilst new Jewish settlements are going up there. Nobody says anything. And this is now happening in Israel where predominantly Arab towns and cities are feeling the shove from aggressive (nasty) settlers. Nobody does anything by the law.
    There’s much more, and what is happening lives up to Ben-Gurion’s word when the partition plan was revealed. He told his fellow terrorists not to be greedy but accept what they were given, rest can be got later. As it was the majority Arabs (Christian and Muslim) were offered the least land and the minority, mostly immigrants got the best and the most. No wonder the Arabs rejected it.
    I hope Palestinians get an upgrade at the UN this December as that will give them access to the international courts. That threat is shaking Israel and US politicians who seem to think that following a long protracted peace process while Israel continues to build facts on the ground is the way Palestinians should go. All this is why I won’t buy Israeli products at any store I go to.
    I sympathize with those Jews who can and do mix with Palestinians or see Israel’s dark side. They suffer the consequences of hate and abuse.

    • F. G. Sanford
      November 17, 2012 at 4:21 am

      Courts? Justice? International law? These ideas have become as laughable as the proceedings which handed down this decision:

      “The court has also become convinced that the motives of the defendants were genuinely patriotic, noble and selfless. [They] believed most conscientiously that they had to act in order to save the [country]. They thought they were complying with the earlier intentions of the [government]. This does not justify their plans, but it does provide the key to understanding their actions.” (Munich, April 1, 1924)

      In a world where foreign policy is tempered by “Full Spectrum Dominance”, what incentive is there to comply with the rule of law? Might makes right, hypocrisy is the norm, and dissent is of no concern. It is simply ignored. How else could a nuclear superpower sell the “existential threat” mantra? April Fools Day was, I think, a befitting day to read such a verdict. Imagine if CNN were around then: Wolfgang Blitzkrieg would have ridiculed the harshness of the sentence, and Danila Bashmeister would have been appalled by repression of internal dissent. The pendulum has swung, and the shoe today is on the other foot. What Dana and Wolf should be asking today is, “Gee, do you think these assholes might start a World War?” Because let’s face it, those assholes from 1924 sure did.

  7. rosemerry
    November 17, 2012 at 4:01 am

    The USA encourages this behaviour as it also fids no other way of action except violence. To refuse even to allow discussion in the UNSC by its constant obstructionist support of Israel every time, the USA makes it impossible to make Israel conform to international law.
    In Gaza now, the BBC correspondent’s 11 month old son Omar was killed by an israeli bomb. A terrorist? A watertower was bombed- accidental? Gazans are expected to lie down and die quietly in the face of unspeakable constant destruction of every aspect of their “lives”.
    Susan Rice (the Dems John Bolton) now for Sec of State???? Probably. Pick the worst possible diplomat.

    • Dirk Jones
      November 17, 2012 at 5:51 am

      I support ANYONE who will just vaporize Israel off the face of the earth. I am not Muslim but as FORMER supporter of Israel 45 years ago , NOW I just want to see them GONE.

      Including the Zionazis who control the USA.

  8. Dirk Jones
    November 17, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Israelis and Jews are the Masters of Deceit and Manipulation. They did 911 and use false flag attacks all the time to give them as excuse to grab more land. Their goal is to take all of Gaza, West bank, Lebanon, and Jordan . They want to control the whole region including Iran.

    And the USA supports this also. There is no military that can stop them but a few canisters of Cobalt 60 could wipe out Israel.

    What a great day that will be.

    I suggest to any kikeroaches here that you invest in kevlar Yarmulkas because there are lots of unemployed US Army snipers that hate Israel and need work.

    BitCoin fund being set up.

  9. Hillary
    November 17, 2012 at 9:25 am

    “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.”

    “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” –Rabbi Ya’acov Perin in his eulogy at the funeral of mass murderer Dr. Baruch Goldstein.

    http://devrolijkemoslim.blogspot.com/2006/05/one-million-arabs-are-not-worth-jewish.html

  10. Rehmat
    November 17, 2012 at 10:54 am

    The Gaza Strip is the most aid-dependent area in the world. Without the ability to export and to import raw materials, without the needed infrastructure for local industry, the Gaza Strip is unable to generate sufficient local income to sustain its population and must depend on aid. The Israeli siege thus creates the conditions for large amounts of aid to be sent to Gaza.

    This aid must pass through Israeli ports and airports, with customs,3 storage fees, and transport fees ending up in the coffers of Israeli companies. The limitations set by Israel on the number of trucks allowed to enter Gaza and the prolonged checks the goods must go through increase the transportation and storage costs dramatically.

    Much of the aid comes in the form of products – food, animal feed, petrol, cooking gas, medicine, etc. – procured from Israeli companies. These companies have thus been able to find a captive market in Gaza, get paid up-front (because checks from banks in the Gaza Strip aren’t accepted in Israel), and increase their sales. Most importantly, this aid is funded with foreign currency, but the goods come from Israeli companies which must be paid in Israeli currency. The result is that massive amounts of foreign currency are converted at the Central Bank of Israel into Israeli shekels in order to fund aid, and the Central Bank of Israel gets to keep the foreign currency. In effect, the Israeli siege of Gaza has transformed the aid industry into one of Israel’s biggest exports – companies that would normally provide domestic services have become sources for foreign currency, which contributes to Israel’s overall economic strength and has already eliminated Israel’s trade deficit almost entirely.

    http://rehmat2.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/israelis-gain-from-gaza-blockade/

    • John
      November 19, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      It is my understanding that several Israeli trucking firms make a lot of money taking things into Gaza. Many trucks not owned by Israeli operations have to unload and have their cargo transferred onto Israeli owned vehicles. I’ve heard it’s a big scam.

  11. Alchemist
    November 18, 2012 at 11:00 am

    @Borat: zionists seem to always reduce themselves to filthy street language, insults and threats. Many of us “out here” are sick and tired of the bullying and pathetic “holocaustisms” used to defend this unfounded “chosen” shtick. No aggressor of the type that is the illegal jewish state can stand forever.take a bath and wash out your mouth with white phosphorous.

  12. Dustbin
    November 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Israel the ‘Ugly Head of Semitism”,
    The governing pillar in the ‘Axis of Chutzpah’….we uncurl and we snake and we proclaim L’Chaim

  13. John
    November 19, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    One of the most sensitive and earnest articles on this matter is written by Robert Fisk of The Independent. He wrote a brutally honest book “The Great War for Civilisation, The Conquest of the Middle East.” His most recent article is a must read by everybody.

    Google: as the gates of hell open once more in the middle east

    As for Borat, earlier you made a comment along the lines of an eye for an eye. If Israel has that option then do Palestinians have the right to pull Sharon’s plug since he was responsible for several massacres in ’48 and deemed indirectly responsible by his Israeli peers for the murder of 1500 (many more missing) unprotected unarmed Palestinian civilians at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon?
    And mister Borat, if you take land from an established civilization, don’t you think they will react when outsiders take it away from them. NA natives did (hadn’t the weapons and little resistance to smallpox), the Inca did (smallpox once again), the South African natives did and they eventually won perhaps because Americans and the world became sensitive to colour. Israel plays the old trick of making the opposite side appear inhuman when in fact that inhumanity is induced by inhumanity perpetrated by themselves. I don’t believe any group (Jews are not a race) of people are inherently different from another, but is modified by life’s experience, religion and other factors.
    Borat, you complain about Hamas, I don’t like their tactics either, but you state that they are there to destroy Israel but then since ’67 Israel has continued to destroy Palestinian civilization illegally and the settler actions are getting more and more fanatical. I don’t think you are capable of seeing that or if you do, accepting it.
    As for your issue on food Borat, there may be enough food but is it good food? The Red Cross says not, and children are malnourished because what they do get, lacks the necessities of good health. Another problem is the poverty that has come over Gazans since the closure, and even if there is this wanting food, they can’t afford it and rely on agencies to provide it. Once Palestinians had a very high standard of education in the world but that has been destroyed as I have said over and over again. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    It appears some idiots are spamming the site. I wonder who as if I didn’t know.

  14. John
    November 21, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I just heard the reporter on CNN say something to the effects that some of the people here in Israel refer to it as “mowing the lawn”. It’s 11/21/12 3:11PM CST.

  15. Eunice
    November 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    There are no words to describe the horrors that the Zionist regime has impose on Palestinians. How dare some miserable evil people defend this criminal behavior. It is beyond human comprehension.

Comments are closed.