Skip to main content

Originally published in Tikkun Daily

Nahum Barnea, perhaps the greatest political writer in Israel today, is composing a five-part series looking back at Israel's recent Gaza operation. His first installment, "Bitter Tears of Victory," is remarkable.

While the entire piece is worth reading, one moment of dialogue stands out as a stark representation of the tensions and oppositional forces at play within Israel today. This dialogue is between Barnea and an Israeli pilot (represented as A.), a reservist, who flew many sorties over Gaza during the 50-day operation.

After discussing Israel's attempts to minimize civilian casualties, and the pilot's anger at those who claim Israeli pilots disregarded civilian lives, the following moment takes place. The dialogue below occurs just after the pilot expresses that he is at peace with the efforts he saw military personnel take to limit civilian casualties:

Nonetheless, I say, many children and women were killed.

“When you chop wood, chips fly,” A. says.

"Do you know who said that before you?" I ask.

“No,” he says.

“Stalin."

He is shocked. “Delete that, delete that I said that,” the pilot asks.

I didn’t delete it. These pilots are wonderful people, but there is a limit to what I can do for the sake of their image.

It is a remarkable moment, the simultaneous acceptance of 'collateral damage' amongst Palestinians, and the horror that the metaphor used to represent such acceptance is one made famous by Stalin.

That horror is both a mirror into which most Israelis prefer not to gaze and a window most Israelis want blocked by opaque curtains, something which could equally be said regarding the United States and its drone campaign.

One thing Barnea may have gotten wrong is his attribution. In truth, the "chop wood" quote is a Russian proverb which appears to have been used by Stalin's right-hand man, Nikolay Ezhov, though its force remains.

What Barnea got right is his representation of a difficult dichotomy in Israel: systemic efforts to minimize Palestinian civilian deaths during war coupled with the systemic disregard for Palestinian life that permeates so much of Israeli society.

--§--

What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, recently published by Oneworld Publications.


Originally posted to David Harris-Gershon (The Troubadour) on Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 07:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Writing by David Harris Gershon and Adalah — A Just Middle East.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Thumb, Alumbrados, Angie in WA State, Sylv, glitterscale, native, PeterHug, Shockwave, TJ, Pescadero Bill, Wintermute, mslat27, John Campanelli, eeff, polecat, expatjourno, hubcap, zeitshabba, niemann, Heart of the Rockies, rasbobbo, entlord, opinionated, whenwego, ask, KMc, farmerhunt, qphilo, jalbert, celticshel, Texknight, edrie, psnyder, hangingchad, ranger995, MA Liberal, johanus, HeyMikey, niteskolar, DSC on the Plateau, lcrp, nswalls, Major Kong, ybruti, Deward Hastings, Steven D, Josiah Bartlett, Gowrie Gal, bobdevo, capelza, Skaje, jrooth, Ckntfld, ichibon, Alice Venturi, wallys son, dewtx, YucatanMan, Kevskos, Lepanto, fixxit, bleeding blue, Kayakbiker, Overseas, lotlizard, Little Lulu, Sandino, kaliope, Tool, Tunk, spunhard, Shotput8, Ginny in CO, deepsouthdoug, turdraker, peacestpete, mightymouse, xaxnar, begone, RJDixon74135, martini, poco, esquimaux, redcedar, myboo, Mr Bojangles, BlueInARedState, cookseytalbott, AoT, MargaretPOA, Marcus Tullius, Lefty Coaster, blueoasis, SherriG, triv33, MJ via Chicago, StrayCat, Rosaura, mozartssister, JVolvo, old possum, gabriella, Turbonerd, onionjim, callmecassandra, thenekkidtruth, CA Nana, BB10, Mr Horrible, bstotts, Temmoku, OHdog, Aaa T Tudeattack, cpresley, The Knute, ammasdarling, anna shane, timewarp, camlbacker, yoduuuh do or do not, FishOutofWater, Sydserious, LillithMc, Mary Mike, tbirchard, suejazz, dconrad, getlost, jayden, US Blues, letsgetreal, SeaTurtle, millwood, OIL GUY, CT Hank, Wreck Smurfy, Assaf, Ralphdog, on the cusp, TomP, Empower Ink, JDWolverton, GAS, zerone, elwior, skohayes, KJG52, mikeconwell, Cassandra Waites, pickandshovel, jorogo, codairem, Drewid, 3rdOption, BYw, Al Fondy, sydneyluv, GrannyOPhilly, CIndyCasella, oldliberal, maggiejean, prettygirlxoxoxo, Bule Betawi, Rhysling, MufsMom, number nine dream, DontTaseMeBro, carolyn urban, Carol in San Antonio, mkor7, JesseCW, ZilV, papahaha, drbcladd, Keith Pickering, Hark, AkaEnragedGoddess, Nannyberry, vtgal, Lefty Ladig, Just Bob, chambord, flitedocnm, NJpeach, yellowdogsal, ATFILLINOIS, JoanMar, gulfgal98, paradise50, ramara, Egalitare, DerAmi, DiegoUK, Johnny Q, BlueFranco, Just Some Guy, science nerd, Oh Mary Oh, nosleep4u, slice, Wisdumb, tgrshark13, theKgirls, Jazzenterprises, slowbutsure, bootsykronos, Nicci August, Teiresias70, Haf2Read, Carolyn in Oregon, thomask, BarackStarObama, abbotkinney, fbw805, enhydra lutris, peregrine kate, chira2, Daulphin, VTCC73, Joe Jackson, Marihilda, cailloux, SoCalSal, too many people, leftykook, dradams, SouthernLiberalinMD, Auriandra, DEMonrat ankle biter, Azazello, quill, bluezen, Flying Goat, DeadHead, Mindful Nature, Citizenpower, 420 forever, 2thanks, Mr Robert, LittleSilver, Nztorg, MartyM, New Minas, George3, databob, ShoshannaD, Raven Song, Lily O Lady, Chaddiwicker, Linda1961, Late Again, Cmehta3, Thornrose, eyo, Joy of Fishes, Alhambra, ggfkate, northerntier, Smoh, Jim Domenico, maregug, Halfton81, oslyn7, danjb, karma5230, eagleray, ExpatGirl, patbahn, Richard Villiers, Pablo Bocanegra, ypochris, JayFarquharson, bluenick, kenneth houck, AnacharsisClootz, velinath

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site