A former army chief may present a challenge to Benjamin Netanyahu, but his campaign’s exultation of destruction and oppression is chilling, reports Jonathan Cook.
By Jonathan Cook
With April’s elections looming, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has good reason to fear Benny Gantz, his former army chief. Gantz has launched a new party, named Israeli Resilience, just as the net of corruption indictments is closing around the prime minister.
Already, at this early stage of campaigning, some 31 per cent of the Israeli public prefer Gantz to head the next government over Netanyahu, who is only months away from becoming the longest-serving leader in Israel’s history.
Gantz is being feted as the new hope, a chance to change direction after a series of governments under Netanyahu’s leadership have over the past decade shifted Israel ever further to the right.
Like Israel’s former politician generals, from Yitzhak Rabin to Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon, Gantz is being portrayed – and portraying himself – as a battle-hardened warrior, able to make peace from a position of strength.
Before he had issued a single policy statement, polls showed him winning 15 of the 120 parliamentary seats, a welcome sign for those hoping that a centere-left coalition can triumph this time.
But the reality of what Gantz stands for – revealed this week in his first election videos – is far from reassuring.
Savage 2014 Operation
In 2014, he led Israel into its longest and most savage military operation in living memory: 50 days in which the tiny coastal enclave of Gaza was bombarded relentlessly.
By the end, one of the most densely populated areas on earth – its 2 million inhabitants already trapped by a lengthy Israeli blockade – lay in ruins. More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed in the onslaught, a quarter of them children, while tens of thousands were left homeless.
The world watched, appalled. Investigations by human rights groups such as Amnesty International concluded that Israel had committed war crimes.
One might have assumed that during the election campaign Gantz would wish to draw a veil over this troubling period in his military career. Not a bit of it.
One of his campaign videos soars over the rubble of Gaza, proudly declaring that Gantz was responsible for destroying many thousands of buildings. “Parts of Gaza have been returned to the Stone Age,” the video boasts.
This is a reference to the Dahiya doctrine, a strategy devised by the Israeli military command of which Gantz was a core member. The aim is to lay waste to the modern infrastructure of Israel’s neighbors, forcing survivors to eke out a bare existence rather than resist Israel.
The collective punishment inherent in the apocalyptic Dahiya doctrine is an undoubted war crime.
More particularly, the video exults in the destruction of Rafah, a city in Gaza that suffered the most intense bout of bombing after an Israeli soldier was seized by Hamas. In minutes, Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment killed at least 135 Palestinian civilians and wrecked a hospital.
According to investigations, Israel had invoked the Hannibal Procedure, the code name for an order allowing the army to use any means to stop one of its soldiers being taken. That includes killing civilians as “collateral damage” and, more controversially for Israelis, the soldier himself.
Gantz’s video flashes up a grand total of “1,364 terrorists killed,” in return for “three-and-a-half years of quiet.” As Israel’s liberal Haaretz daily observed, the video “celebrates a body count as if this were just some computer game.”
But the casualty figure cited by Gantz exceeds even the Israel army’s self-serving assessment – as well, of course, as dehumanizing those “terrorists” fighting for their freedom.
A more impartial observer, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, estimates that the Palestinian fighters killed by Israel amounted to 765. By their reckoning, and that of other bodies such as the United Nations, almost two-thirds of Gazans killed in Israel’s 2014 operation were civilians.
Further, the “quiet” Gantz credits himself with was enjoyed chiefly by Israel.
In Gaza, Palestinians faced regular military attacks, a continuing siege choking off essential supplies and destroying their export industries, and a policy of executions by Israeli snipers firing on unarmed demonstrators at the perimeter fence imprisoning the enclave.
Gantz’s campaign slogans “Only the Strong Wins” and “Israel Before Everything” are telling. Everything, for Gantz, clearly includes human rights.
It is shameful enough that he believes his track record of war crimes will win over voters. But the same approach has been voiced by Israel’s new military chief of staff.
Aviv Kochavi, nicknamed the Philosopher Officer for his university studies, was inaugurated this month as the army’s latest head. In a major speech, he promised to reinvent the fabled “most moral army in the world” into a “deadly, efficient” one.
Expert in Destruction
In Kochavi’s view, the rampaging military once overseen by Gantz needs to step up its game. And he is a proven expert in destruction.
In the early stages of the Palestinian uprising that erupted in 2000, the Israeli army struggled to find a way to crush Palestinian fighters concealed in densely crowded cities under occupation.
Kochavi came up with an ingenious solution in Nablus, where he was brigade commander. The army would invade a Palestinian home, then smash through its walls, moving from house to house, burrowing through the city unseen. Palestinian space was not only usurped, but destroyed inside-out.
Gantz, the former general hoping to lead the government, and Kochavi, the general leading its army, are symptoms of just how complete the militaristic logic that has overtaken Israel really is. An Israel determined to become a modern-day Sparta.
Should he bring about Netanyahu’s downfall, Gantz, like his predecessor politician-generals, will turn out to be a hollow peace-maker. He was trained to understand only strength, zero-sum strategies, conquest and destruction, not compassion or compromise.
More dangerously, Gantz’s glorification of his military past is likely to reinforce in Israelis’ minds the need not for peace but for more of the same: support for an ultranationalist right that bathes itself in an ethnic supremacist philosophy and dismisses any recognition of the Palestinians as human beings with rights.
Jonathan Cook is a freelance journalist based in Nazareth. He blogs at https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/.
As someone who was born to a Jewish Israeli family, I can confirm that this is accurate. Israeli society is EXTREMELY militaristic. Everything revolves around the military in Israel. It’s a society totally brainwashed (from age zero, in the school system, ceremonies, in the family and in the military ) by zionist slogans to serve the nation.
One of the most ethnocentric supremacist societies on earth at the moment. YET at the same time, one that has been brainwashed to believe that it is the eternal victim, that they are special and chosen and that the world dislikes them for no reason whatsoever ,that it has nothing to do with their actions.
Israeli media is the most manipulative and nationalistic I ever came across, spewing out non stop nationalist propaganda.
Israelis leave inside a propaganda bubble and don’t even know it. They think that what they are being told is reality.
“It’s a society totally brainwashed (from age zero, in the school system, ceremonies, in the family and in the military ) by zionist slogans to serve the nation.”
Like many you appear to conflate attempt with achievement and rely on binaries of absolutes.
Perhaps a more valid statement would differentiate between a “total attempt” to brainwash and a less than total achievement of brainwashing with a high assay of achievment.
All interactions are lateral processes with variable half-lives particularly in ideology.
Perhaps more opportunities of potential lateral trajectories to transcend “total attempts” to brainwash could be gained through studying the lateral trajectories and interactive causations of the content and scope of attempts to brainwash from say 1956 onwards and the assay of achievement over the period from 1956.
Perhaps a focus on styles of dress/dressing and smile quotients of Israeli politicians over the same period would also prove illuminating?
Sorry I’m a bit late to the party. Here’s a link to an article by Chris Hedges. Fits in with discussion of Israel and US relations.
Remember when last year the extreme right flank of South Korea’s right wing protested against Pres. Moon’s reconciliation policies. An Israeli flag featured prominently in the images. The Star of David is now universally understood as a symbol of permanent war. If the evidence is that Israelis themselves like this just fine, then I guess why not.
The star of David has become to the Zionists as the swastika was to the Nazis.
Around us, we see that “Left” and “Right” have become outdated labels in politics, without relevance to our present condition. Why would it be any different in Israel. Throughout Israel’s history, “steal, steal, steal” and “build, build, build” have been very much bipartisan endeavors; only the mood music changes.
Old Albert Einstein, by all evidence a proud Jew, may have been on to something when he declined the offer of the first presidency of Israel. The way in which this was being done, rooted in notions of racial supremacy, and at the expense of the Arabs whom he counted among the jews’ best friends throughout history, for him was a path of continuing the recent horrors instead of transcending them.
Dire warnings for the future are nice and well, but the reality is that Israel made all of its existential choices before this century even started. The only real issue I see is: how long will Uncle Sam be physically able to prop up the whole enterprise with unlimited flesh and money.
And I think the comparison with Sparta very apt.That was a society actually designed for war, right down to the way it raised its children.
Remember too the advice of a leading early Zionist, Jabotinski, about building an “iron wall.”
That is precisely what Israelis embraced from the beginning.
There never has been the least effort at peace and good, helpful relations with neighbors.
Israel resembles a Crusader fortress sitting amidst people that it appears to have contempt for. A heavily-armed garrison state with no regard for any neighbor except a few kings and tyrants – Saudi Arabia or Egypt – who are ready to assist in its work.
Modern Israel has proven a tragedy for most of the people in the region. Not just its own continuous state of war, but Israel is the fundamental mover for the Neocon Wars, that horror-show effort to remake the Mideast. A total and very bloody failure.
There isn’t a neighbor Israel itself hasn’t attacked, some several times. And it has on a number of occasions committed outright atrocities.
The word peace from the mouth of any Israeli politician with whom I am familiar is pretty much a bitter sarcasm.
They don’t have a clue, what Sparta was, and they can’t emulate it!It’s like westerners trying to comprehend eastern philosophy and then practice it in Hollywood fashion (it is about knowing yourself, peace, nirvana and all their rubbish, but in the and you have to kick some asses)
And your point is?
Israel, rotten as it is, could not do what it does without the backing and support of the US.
“A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.”
~from George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796
“Already, at this early stage of campaigning, some 31 per cent of the Israeli public prefer Gantz to head the next government over Netanyahu, who is only months away from becoming the longest-serving leader in Israel’s history.”
This is a completely meaningless number in a voting system with no direct voting for the executive branch. this specific poll question serves tabloid hunger for sensation. The only number that matters is how many party recommendations post-election a candidate can muster before going to the president for requesting his authorization to start assembling a coalition.
There’s nothing new about Gantz’s approach or the cancerous (and intentional) culture of militarism in the Israeli society. Even Yitzhak Rabin sometimes used this approach. you are probably a relative newcomer to Israel if you think this is news. unfortunately, our culture has been that for at least the last 5 decades.
you are dead right about Gantz being a hollow peace maker. may he fail in elections like many of his predecessors that usually started high in early polls and later declined sharply, sometimes down to below the block threshold (like in Mofaz’s case).
“his campaign’s exultation of destruction and oppression is chilling,”
Coercion is predicated on facility and fiat which are facilitated by the belief of others.
One of the fiats regularly promoted by both “The United States of America” and “Israel” is the “Samson” fiat, although all with a modicum of knowledge understand that virtually all options are “Samson options”; the likely consequence of nuclear warfare being nuclear winter.
When vulnerable, social relations predicated on coercion in various forms tend to iterate and expand/widen the forms and implementations of coercion thereby increasing the pool and resolve of their opponents facilitating increased vulnerability to those who coerce.
Some who ponder how to drown a drowning man with the minimum of blow-back have noted through tested implementations that when drowning men are bound together they tend to drown faster.
Likely the drive to become a modern day Sparta is akin to the seeking of full spectrum dominance in the expectation of tighter bindings.
The article doesn’t explain about Israel trying to become like Sparta. The only thing that Sparta and Israel has is that they were outnumber by the people they had conquered.
Israel is simply a criminal terrorist state. The evidence for this is abundant and well known. This regime is an evil cancer on our planet, and needs to be removed. If my obvious remarks are censored on this site, it would be a sad day for open journalism, and it’s freedom to publish uncomfortable truths.
My congratulations to CN for publishing my thoughts. My belief in free speech as a cornerstone of all our freedoms is strengthened, and leads to my increased respect for CN. My thoughts were expressed somewhat dogmatically, partly as a test for my freedom to speak out forcefully. But of course I am open to contrary comments critical of my stance. I think that often the lack of rebuttals to vigorous criticism of Israel, is that those wanting to do so know how flimsy their proofs really are – ridiculous in fact. The evidence of Israel’s crimes is too blatant to be alibied.
Israel has no right to exist.
No “country” has a right to exist. It is a ridiculous concept-how many new countries have been invented even since WW2? Does Kosovo have a right to exist as a country, torn away from Serbia and recognised by some others against the will of Serbia? Does Venezuela have a right to exist if Pompass, Bolton, Elliott Abrams the mass murderer and Trump decide to destroy it? Apparently the US puppets believe not-it has to be handed to their stooge and bled dry.
As for “anti-semitism” cries when any justified POLITICAL criticism of the “Jewish Democratic State of Israel” is made, when it is clear that the criticism is NOT because the main population there is Jews but because they are liars, thieves and murderers.
agree completely. The recognition of this is slow and tedious, unfortunately, but definitely ongoing.
How the Israelis slipped out of the fascist noose to become fascists with a noose of their own is one of the inexplicable events of socio-psychological history. It has little to do with judaism and not a lot to do with any explanation yet offered. It is a mystery.
That same mystery is not, however, confined to the borders of Israel. The Us of A’s demography clearly shows that the roots of 20% of the Americans today are of German descent. The American pro-Nazi proponents during the 1930s right up until after war was declared between us was formidable. It wasn’t just the Bund, it was rich, famous people from Charles Lindberg to Henry Ford and Prescott Bush, father and grandfather of two recent Presidents. And we, marching behind the flag of democracy, picked up the Germano-Spartan flag of militarism and returned to the very same fight that led the Germans to follow Hitler – anti-Russianism. That’s not to say that Stalin was not a demon, but we lived in perfect comfort with other demons.
Then, somewhere after Israel got its sea legs, the right-wing of Germanic America began to march to the tune and eventually the instructions of the same peoples we had warred to liberate. In mathematics, I believe it’s called a double helix.
The brilliance of the new form of fascism is that the tail not only wags the dog, but sends us off to pay the costs and get the scars of its vicarious dog fights. They bark and we bite and are bitten. Somehow, Germany, Israel, and America all have inherited that same flow of Spartan genes. And it remains incomprehensible.
I feel that the answer to this “mystery” of reversing roles is to be found in an in depth study of the difference between a people who consider themselves EXCEPTIONAL and one who consider themselves EXCLUSIVE.
Almost every self respecting culture feels exceptional, but exclusive is unknown in the natural world.
Tom: No response button to your comment attached below; I did read this comment of yours and have been considering it since I read it. I’m slow (sometimes) but eventually catch on. That I could have as simply said what you did. The candor I used I felt was necessary to honestly express the emotions that this evokes in me. I’d never pretend that I know how this (or anything else) ends, but it certainly feels that it will not end well.
Pierre, you ask: “How the Israelis slipped out of the fascist noose to become fascists with a noose of their own is one of the inexplicable events of socio-psychological history. It has little to do with judaism and not a lot to do with any explanation yet offered. It is a mystery.”
It is not a mystery:
“I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn:
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.” [Auden wrote]
Karmic cycles of cause and effect. Youth must make the fresh beginng, the brave ascent.
I don’t believe it is a mystery. It is complicated, but not mysterious. I started yesterday when this went up with: “The world at large by now regrets the large cancerous chip on the shoulder of the Jewish people, and whatever role the rest of the world may have had in placing it there.” Living in the rusted-out industrial heartland of the US I have personally known only a handful of Jewish people and none of them ever mentioned matters relating to their faith or ethnic heritage. In short I’ve had no Jewish friends to talk with and learn from about their experience of living in this country and being a vilified minority. Which certainly they are.
Dispensing with the too-overused term of the ADL and AIPAC and just calling it “Jew-hatred” most realize that it is alive and thrives here just as “N####r-hatred” does. (Charlottesville) I’m always trying to understand the great issues of our time that will direct events and determine if there will be a world for my grandson and his peers. Reading about (one of the) Jewish diasporas into the Eurasian continent, and to very broadly generalize, what I discerned was both an unwillingness to extend cultural assimilation (by the resident populations) and an unwillingness to be assimilated by the arriving diaspora. Hitler’s and the Nazis’ scapegoating of the Jews did not spring up out of the void. Is it not true that the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw existed before the Nazis came on the scene? No historian, I’m assuming many such enclaves existed throughout the metropolitan centers of Europe.
When you know that someone “hates” you the natural inclination is to develop a corresponding hatred in return. Is it possible that Jews collectively developed a disdain for all but their own that provided justification to treat with all but their own in a predatory, usurious manner? And a vortex of mistrust and hatred begins to swirl.
The great issues of our time and how they will shape events. The manner in which the modern state of Israel was established, in my opinion, was fatally flawed. If the real and only reason in doing so was to mitigate an injustice, it was self-defeating in creating an equal injustice (to the Palestinians.) Perhaps that wasn’t the reason at all though and what was really behind it was the arrogant and sociopathic British grand chess masters of the geopolitical game, creating situations and realities they believed would all play out to their advantage. Regardless of the real reasons there is no doubt that the existence of and the behavior of the modern Jewish state is having an oversized and unwarranted effect on the direction of world events. They have as their ally the largest and most irresponsible military force of our time, and together have laid waste already to much of that ancient region.
Gantz is entirely unexceptional for a modern Israeli politician wanna-be. When the over-riding belief (by Jews) is that “they all hate us anyhow” then there is no reason to discriminate between combatants and civilians, between neutral neighbors and those that push back with resistance to Jewish aggression and expansionism.
A boomer, I learned in school of the Holocaust and like most of my even-minded peers was sympathetic to the injustice perpetrated by the Nazis. The cache of that event has worn off, justification of ongoing crimes bankrolled by that prior event has been overdrawn. I know that a generalized hatred of any ethnic group or religious affiliation is wrong, personally and collectively. And yet, over these decades witnessing the horror of the “holy land” (ha!) I find those memes, still so prevalent, bubbling up in my mind: “Maybe Hitler was right, and he should have finished the job”; “Kill them all – wipe them out!” I’m ashamed to my very core when those thoughts seep into my consciousness. And finally then to the point I most want to make. If a person like me – extremely, highly, average – can be driven to this reaction, then not only Israel, but Jews everywhere, are in deep trouble.
Thank you vinnieoh. For me, I believe the dialogue that Carroll Quigley writes about in “Tragedy And Hope”, the very privileged, in the most impressive environments, (especially academia) re-assuring each other of their Exceptionalism. Of course that is easy enough to imagine, but what really secured “the concept” for me, was experiencing the movie “The Man Who Knew Infinity” the well established British Empire had become assured that only they could explain the basis of “it all”, thus it was up to them to arrange the future accordingly. That finite planning led to the establishment arrogance typical to this very day, throughout academia, justice, governance and management. It was never a fact, and it has metastasized into our current agony.
Bob: I’ll save and follow your links, when I have the time. I was somewhat reluctant to post what I did, wondering if it might be misunderstood. And you can call me Vinnie or Vince.
Thanks Vinnie. I have posted elsewhere (in a different connection) that if we lower ourselves to their level we join them.
Your “shame” for your reciprocal sentiments do you credit, and I know you recorded them merely to describe the wrongness of this common error.
In regard to the Jews as a phenomenon, I have often pointed out the unnatural (and therefore detested) perception of EXCLUSIVENESS, which is quite different to other people’s self perception of distinctness or even exceptional.- You can be special without excluding the rest of life.
Well, it would seem that the assessment of this latest Jewish warmonger is spot on but that’s hardly a surprise. He’s an army general. Nobody’s accused anybody’s army generals of being able to wage peace. Hell, they can’t even stop a war. The Japanese generals tried to kidnap Hirohito so that the couldn’t surrender after two A-bombs flattened two Japanese cities. The German generals didn’t want to surrender to end WWI. They probably wouldn’t have wanted to surrender after WWII either except that their entire country was occupied by allied troops and their glorious leader was dead.
Personally, I think the Ticoes have it right. The Costa Rican army perpetrated a putsch in 1948 but as soon as their junta returned power to the civilians, the civilians simply disbanded the army. They haven’t had one since and not only haven’t they had any more putsches, there’s been nobody for the US military to train in our vile ways.
The Israelis have learned a lot from their former masters. They have become what they hate the most. They are lost.
What do they hate most??? This sort of behavior is all over their torah. Rachel and her having hundreds of thousands of Persians killed, Jewish Bolsheviks having millions killed in USSR, Bera and the tortures, Amalekites, etc., etc., etc.
Also, “Israel Before Everything” sounds like a ripoff of Bolsonaro’s “Brazil Above Everything,” and, dare I say it, “Germany Above All.”
> and, dare I say it, “Germany Above All.”
Of course it is simply copied from “Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles”!
(But I should point out that this originally meant something quite different than its later interpretations: that a united Germany– the territory populated by Germans as a whole — should have priority over the powers and rights of the rulers of the various kingdoms and principalities who governed that territory at the time.)
The New York Times recently featured a story on Gantz. Even they found it impossible to whitewash his crazy advertisements, they still called him “center-right,” though. It does seem like Israel is one of the few countries left where military and defence officials regularly become leaders, this is not a good thing, however, and Sparta is certainly a good analogy. Cook also recently mentioned in another article the fact that the Joint List, the coalition between Communist, left-wing, Arab, and Palestinian parties has broken up in recent weeks and will probably have fewer seats in the Knesset. Labor’s failing too. But I think this is a good development, for a parliament packed with only extreme Apartheid policies will cement the destruction of the Liberal Zionist facade and polarise world opinion in favour of the Palestinians.
Sorry, Israel is not like Sparta, at least not the Sparta presented to us by Thucydides. Israel has become nation of crazies whose armies no longer are effective other than slaughtering unarmed civilians. Without Washington and US Jews there would be no belligerent Israel.
And don’t forget Russia.Russia has close ties with Israel.Netanyahu is a frequent visitor to Putin.Those visits are hardly mentioned in the Western MSM.Did anybody hear complaints from Russia about the attacks on Hezbollah or Iranian bases in Syria from Russia.Some even say that the Russian S300Air defence system in Syria is deactivated so they can’t target Israeli missiles or fighter jets.That might be a conspiracy theory.I don’t know.But who knows?
I have found this very disappointing. Pres.Putin seems able to find some sort of agreement with almost anyone(!) except the USA/EU it seems, but the giving in to Netanyahu, eg about the ‘IDF’ -arranged destruction of Russian planes over Syria seems out of character. There may be some ulterior motive.
Anne, you make an excellent point. Time will tell.
The article link below could be of interest.
Stephen J – thanks for the link. An excellent assortment of sources and quotes.
Thanks Gary Weglarz, appreciate your comment.
I too thank you for those links. As distasteful as they are, they bear the sad lurid truth of our times, and what we have become as a nation. I weary and am close enough to weeping an old man’s tears for all of the horrors that have been unleashed in my time by the red, white and blue of the stars and stripes.
Canada has become a bumboy for the US. Trudeau welcomes terrorists and embeds them into society whilst the US who honoured them with an Academy Award takes none. We arrest US competitors and cave to detrimental trade deals. Canada not so proud.
Here in China his nickname is Xiao Tudou (“small potato”), but since the Lady Meng , Huawei case opened we also hear “Trump’s stupid biting dog”.