Thursday, July 20, 2006


Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington under nine presidents and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review is an online journal and archive of alternative news. It has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents



YITZHAK LAOR, LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS, 2004 - The real struggle in Israeli society today is not between doves and hawks, but between the majority who take for granted the IDF's image as the defender of our nation, with or without biblical quotes, and the minority who no longer buy it. If the army does something bad it is always an exception (harig, in Hebrew). Those who believe that we are fighting for our lives also believe that we do our best to be humane, and more or less succeed. This fragile complex of axioms depends either on foolish optimism ("soon everything will be resolved") or on images. Arguments don't work anymore. . .

Atrocities are always perpetrated against us, and the more brutal Israel becomes, the more it depends on our image as the eternal victim. Hence the importance of the Holocaust since the end of the 1980s (the first intifada), and its return into Hebrew literature. The Holocaust is part of the victim imagery, hence the madness of state-subsidized school trips to Auschwitz. This has less to do with understanding the past than with reproducing an environment in which we exist in the present tense as victims. Together with that comes the imagery of the healthy, beautiful, and sensitive soldiers. . .

Every once in a while opposition arises from within the monster. Hence the Courage to Refuse movement, the letter last September signed by 27 pilots who refused to attack civilian populations in the Occupied Territories, the letter in December from an elite commando unit that refused to fight, and so on. A society living in the past as if it were the present is vulnerable: the past/present becomes a double-edged sword. You may be sued if you call anybody here a "Nazi," but one hears it a lot. It would be more appropriate to compare Israeli brutality with the French in Algeria, or the British in Sudan or Malaysia, but we are taken up with the notion of "our past turning into our present." . . .


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