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Gilad Atzmon argues that the publication of the names and other details of 200 Israeli war crimes suspects
By Gilad Atzmon
who participated in the onslaught against Gaza in 2008-09 is a clear warning that every Israeli complicit in this and other outrages, and not just senior commanders and leaders, is liable for the crimes committed by the state and its army.
A few days ago, British Chief of Defence Staff General David Richards admitted that victory in Afghanistan is unachievable. "In conventional war,” said Richards, “defeat and victory is very clear cut and is symbolized by troops marching into another nation's capital."
It took a few years for the British military elites to admit that the war in Afghanistan cannot lead anywhere. Indeed, a valuable lesson to learn from mid to late 20th century warfare is that conventional military might cannot easily defeat civilian mass resistance.
It is interesting to reflect, too, that although the Jewish state has pursued a “strategy” of occupation for 62 years, for some reason the penny has still not dropped. The Israelis are still convinced that they can knock down the resilient Palestinians using siege, indiscriminate killing, carpet bombardment and chemical warfare.
The results are pretty obvious. Bearing in mind that Israel considers itself to be a “Jews-only democracy”, it follows that every Israeli Jew is complicit in a colossal war crime against a civilian population.
But it goes further. More and more Israeli soldiers of all ranks are directly involved in an endless list of crimes: some stop pregnant women from receiving urgent medical attention , while others drop bombs on populated neighbourhoods; some use children as human shields, while a few perform executions of peace activists. And others just feed the cannons with white phosphorus shells.
The perpetrators of these crimes are actually liable to prosecution under . They can be detained anywhere around the world. They may end their lives in jail.
However, a few brave Israelis must be very concerned about the moral condition of their state because a few days ago, a document identifying leaked out of Israel. It made it to the internet. The list included the names, ranks, military posts, pictures and addresses.
The people who leaked the information and put it on the net stated that the names that followed were
the direct perpetrators, agents for the state of Israel that in Dec-Jan 2008- 09 attacked scores of people in the besieged Gaza. The people listed … held positions of command at the time of the attack; therefore, not only did they perform on behalf of a murderous state mechanism but actively encouraged other people to do the same. They bear a distinctive personal responsibility. They range from low-level field commanders to the highest echelons of the Israeli army. All took an active and direct role in the offensive.
On 17 November I picked up the story and posted on my website a link to the site that originally published the list – a site called “Israeli War Criminals”. The following day I was falsely accused by Israel’s
Needless to say, this didn’t make me overwhelmingly popular in Israel. My email inbox looked like an Israeli war zone, and one of my recent that was screened by the Israeli TV soon became a platform for vile Israeli ugliness.
It all reminded me of why I had denounced my Jewishness and left Israel. It rang a bell. It reminded me why I decided years ago never to step foot in that doomed place ever again. The Israelis were desperate and angry. They needed someone to blame. And after all, “blaming someone” is far easier than admitting that something is systematically and fundamentally wrong at home.
On 19 November, the Israeli news channel managed to get hold of me. They were trying to trace the whistleblower. I obviously couldn’t help them, nor would I like to help them. As far as I am aware, no one knows who the people behind the publication of the list are. Though initially the Israelis claimed that the list was fabricated and included many names that had nothing to do with the crimes in Gaza (2008-09), the Israeli media soon admitted that the list was leaked from an Israel Defence Force (IDF) source and was probably genuine.
I tried to point out to the Israeli Channel 10 researcher that the publication of the list is the best thing that has happened to Israel for years. The list is a clear signal for future Israeli combatants. It is there to suggest to them that unethical conduct may bear some heavy and direct consequences. Such recognition is vital for Israelis so they can start to amend their path and find a way to live in peace with their neighbours.
One may also find it strange that in the so-called “only democracy in the Middle East” a list of 200 suspected war criminals is leaked – and the entire media is chasing a whistleblower instead of engaging with the real story. It shows clearly a society that is rapidly drifting away from any form of recognition of international law, let alone ethical awareness.
However, I know very well why the Israelis are so furious. People around the world do not realize that, for Israelis, the Jewish state is nothing but a prison. As much as the Israelis claim to love their state, there is nothing they love more than leaving it behind, and I guess that the Israelis are starting to grasp the true meaning of the delegitimization of their state. It is now reaching a point of no return, and it has become personal, because the people on the list will have to think twice before they set foot on a plane.
Interestingly, the people who published the list used a tactic that was used by Jewish and Zionist organizations after World War II. Instead of chasing leaders and military commanders, the Nazi hunters had collated information about ordinary people – the low ranking officers, the soldiers, the guards – ordinary people who had perpetrated crimes against humanity. This tactic proved effective in incriminating generations of Europeans as vile anti-Semites. After the war, European guilt was quickly translated into Zionist power.
Clearly, the people behind the leaking of the “Israeli War Criminals” list are letting Israel taste its own medicine. By listing 200 soldiers of all ranks, the message is clear: Israeli society itself is deeply sick. It is not just the people at the top, it is actually the very ordinary ones. Rather than Israel – it is actually the “Israeli”. The malaise seems to be deeply imbued in the society and its culture.
In the case of Germany and other European nations, it was Israel and Jewish leaders who were given the choice of whether they wanted to forgive or withhold forgiveness. It was the Israelis and Jews who, tentatively and conditionally, gave European nations a kosher amnesty.
I guess the fate of Israel is similar. Yet, now it is the Palestinians and only the Palestinians who can save the Israelis from themselves and their brutality. It is only the Palestinians who are entitled grant a pardon to Israeli criminals. The more crimes Israel commits in the present – the more Israelis are dependent on the Palestinians’ future kindness.
Once a truth and reconciliation commission for Israeli war crimes is founded in Palestine, it will be the Palestinian people who decide who to pardon.