Thursday, August 03, 2006

Israel’s New Math

I post this article by Gilad Atzmon which is on counterpunch at
to raise the issue once again of 'disproportionate force' and get a debate going whether you agree with him or not.

Israel’s New Math

2 = 500,000


This is obviously the outcome of the newly emerged Hebraic arithmetic laws. For 2 kidnapped Israeli soldiers who are still kept alive, 500,000 innocent Lebanese civilians are displaced. For 2 abducted Israeli soldiers, Lebanon, a sovereign state, is brought back down on its knees. Its civil infrastructure is ‘gone’. Some of its capital’s residential quarters and southern villages are already wiped out. Indeed, ‘two equals half a million’ is the new arithmetic the Israelis insist upon imposing on the region. Is it that surprising? Not at all, as predicted by Gershon Sholem already in the 1930’s: once the Jews start to speak Hebrew, it won’t take long before they consider themselves to be God.

In the Bible Sodom and Gomorrah were "brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven" (Genesis 13:13; 18:20; 19:24, 29; Hosea 11:8). The two towns where erased by God for the sins of its inhabitants. In the Biblical narrative (Genesis 18), God informs Abraham that he intends upon demolishing the city of Sodom because of its gross immorality. Abraham pleads with God not to do it. God is willing to agree as long as there were 50 righteous people in town, then 45, then 30, 20, or even just 10 decent people.

While the Biblical tale is saturated with God’s fury and vengeance, it is Abraham, a morally orientated human being who insists upon saving the inhabitants of Sodom. Yet, not many contemporary Abrahams have been raising their voices within Israeli society. In a demonstration against the emerging brutal attack against Lebanon, less than one thousand Israeli showed up. But far more worryingly, not many Abrahams are noticeable amongst our world leaders. While Bush was clearly caught up welcoming the brutal wiping out of yet another Arab country, his twin ideological brother, PM Blair, supports Israel’s “right to defend itself”.

One should ask the British PM the obvious question: if indeed Israel is solely engaged in merely “defending itself” how come there is no Navy rescue mission of Britons from Tel Aviv or Haifa? Somehow, Mr. Blair, it is rather apparent that Israel’s aim of ‘defending itself’ is so extensive in its brutality that it is actually Beirut and southern Lebanon that are wiped out.

Following Sholem’s prophecy, it is rather clear that the almighty Israelis indeed endorsed the role of a cruel God. Flying American F-16’s, the Israelis ‘brimstone and fire’ Lebanese cities and villages out of existence. Last night, the IAF angels dropped 23 tons of explosives on a one single bunker in Beirut. They really want to kill so it seems.

However, within the Biblical tale, even God is willing to bargain, “just present me with 50, 40, 30, 20 righteous people,” he tells Abraham. Seemingly, Israel, the almighty regional God, is far less willing to bargain. Till this point in time, it has rejected any ceasefire initiatives. The Israelis want to ‘finish the job’ so they say.

One may wonder what exactly is that job which they want to finish. Indeed they spread collateral damage all over Lebanon but seemingly they do not touch the Hezbollah. Instead, rather murderously, they punish the entire Lebanese people. They flatten Beirut’s southern neighbourhoods, they destroy the Lebanese civil infrastructures, they destroy the state’s economy, half a million Lebanese are now displaced, hundreds are dead. And guess what, they don’t win. Ostensibly, the Hezbollah is gaining power. In fact, from this point onwards, the Hezbollah can only win. In other words, the Hezbollah has won the battle already.

More than anything, it is the Hezbollah that made Israel reveal its very devastating notion of blood arithmetic i.e. 2 = 500,000. For those who fail to understand, people who believe in ‘two equals half a million’ can easily nuke whoever they consider to be their enemies with out the slight hesitation. 2 = 500,000 is there to suggest that Israel isn’t just a regional danger, it is the biggest threat to world peace. This is something I’ve known for a while but now thanks to the Hezbollah this will become common knowledge.

While in the history of the conflict, no Arab army has yet to defeat the Israeli military might, the Hezbollah, a tiny paramilitary group of patriotic warriors has managed to transform northern Israeli cities into ghost towns. They did it without a navy, without an air force, without tanks. For those who don’t know, Israel is all about ‘good life’. It is all about trading in the stock exchange. Having a BBQ party on the beach. Big imported pop acts in open-air concerts. Rather than Peace Israelis are after ‘Shalom’ which really means: one-sided security for the Jews only. The Hezbollah (as well as the Hamas) made it clear to the Israelis, you will never live in Shalom unless you dig into the notion of Peace.

It is important to mention that Israel could never win this war, it could only lose and in fact it lost already. Israel’s power of deterrence is minced to pieces by a lightly armed paramilitary organisation. Considering the emerging humanitarian crisis in Lebanon, the world public attention from now on will be dedicated to the growing devastation the ‘God-like’ Israelis have left behind. Israel on its side is going to be left with a war of attrition. It took the Hezbollah 20 years to get the IDF out of Lebanon. The Israelis know very well that if the IDF failed miserably in defeating the Hezbollah, no army in the world can do the job any better. Hezbollah is there to stay. Israel is now left with a very hostile neighbour and a very strong Hezbollah on its very vulnerable northern border.

The Old Testament’s almighty God is indeed merciless at times, he acts with fury and vengeance but he isn’t vulnerable. In Genesis 18 the people of Sodom do not fight back, they just pass away. The one who looks back with awe is transformed into a salty statue. But the ‘God-like’ Israelites are rather vulnerable. One billion Arabs are waiting for them behind the corner. One billion Arabs who are humiliated daily by an Anglo-American Zionised west that backs ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’. One billion Arabs that are looking at stolen Palestine, smashed Gaza and torn apart Lebanon. Those Arabs have a good reason to be cheered by the Hezbollah. It is the Hezbollah that gives them a very good reason to look forward with pride.

But the Hezbollah is not the only winner. Clearly, the Israeli attack leads towards a huge humanitarian crisis. While the Americans and British are concerned mainly with rescuing their citizens in Beirut (many of them indeed Lebanese by origin), Syria is there to offer safe shelter to a growing flood of thousands of Lebanese refugees. While Blair and Bush engage in giving the green light to Israeli brutality, it is Syria that gives a hand to the real victims. It is about time we shake off our views and admit that from a purely ethical point of view. It is Syria and Iran who support the oppressed people in this battered region. i.e.. the Palestinians and now the Lebanese. For me this is more than enough to suggest that at least ethically, Iran and Syria are the most progressive powers around.

And just one final word about the God-like Israelites; indeed, it is very clear that they do not love their neighbours. But how to say it, people who inflict so much pain on others probably do not like themselves either. Even murderers don’t like themselves being murderers.

Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He is the author of two novels: A Guide to the Perplexed and the recently released My One and Only Love. Atzmon is also one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. His recent CD, Exile, was named the year's best jazz CD by the BBC. He now lives in London and can be reached at:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

RS and team; proporationality in war and responding is very difficult to measure as if youo go back to the 2nd world war can you honestly say that the US UK and its friends who bombarded the german cities inflicted proportionaly on the enemy? same if the UK and US inflict enough pain and destruction in Iraq and Afaganistan?

hence you cannot find proportionality in that way..... you can however compare the reasons and motive to inflict bombing or killings....

in any case war is a dirty fuking business and it should stop now!!!!!!

get rid of Iran and Syria from our land and deffinitly Israel. lets go back to the festivals and having fun under the sun.

12:04 AM  
Blogger FreeCyprus said...

one of the most interesting blogs on the net...stay well, stay safe, and keep on bloggin

-- FreeCyprus

12:05 AM  
Blogger FreeCyprus said...

Greece and Cyprus will always be there to help our Lebanese brothers and sisters (and we were the FIRST to help)

12:05 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

When will you people understand, even if it's one Israeli you can't have terrorist in your country. You can’t have a large part of your society calling for the destruction of an entire race. Your people openly support terrorist and burn the flag of a neighbor. Where doe it say in the Koran to kill women and children? It doesn’t but you’ll come back with they did it first. So neither country is right but both are very wrong but I have to side with Israel on this one. If one American is taken hostage for the purpose of terrorism then let the Gods of War rain down on all guilty parties. Islam, Muslims Arabs or whatever talk of peace but fight from behind a skirt of a woman for protection and then cry when the same skirt is torn. Choose where you stand, if it’s for peace then throw down the flags of the terrorists and start waving a white flag, not in surrender but peace.

As each person is killed always know that the suffering is brought upon your people because of the very terrorists your supporting. They’re your army; you’re voice so live and die the consequences of your voice.

12:16 AM  
Anonymous tool said...

listen to this guy! facking idiot!

a white flag to an israeli pilot is like a facking bullseye!


1:19 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

You're name fits you, you're a TOOL. But you're a usless tool. And again your right, a bright yellow flag is better.

1:24 AM  
Blogger TemeculaMike said...

RS and everybody else - there is a serious disconnect between the author and his government on how to count lives.

Is it 2? Nope. Remember 8 other soldiers were killed in the Hezbollah raid. Thus, the number is at least 10.

Unfortunately, the number really isn't 10, because Hezbollah (and Lebanon) is being attacked for being nothing more than a continuation of the Nazi thinking (i.e. every Jew must die). In the minds of the Israelis, all the Jewish lives lost at the hands of Hezbollah, Hamas, PLO, Nazi's and other anti-semetic groups get counted on the Israeli side of the ledger.

Before a discussion of disproportionately of action can be had, you must first agree on an appropriate body count.

However, I suggest everybody consider other factors of the "Just War Doctrine," which is really where you want this debate to go.

I have discussed the Just War Doctrine in my blog here:

1:45 AM  
Blogger AM said...

'But how to say it, people who inflict so much pain on others probably do not like themselves either. Even murderers don’t like themselves being murderers.'

He needs to add the fact that most probably they do not even care about their own people being killed either.

Appropriate body count? ... you must be kidding me!

1:55 AM  
Blogger great dynamo said...

i strongly disagree with atzmon when he calls iran and syria the truely progressive powers in the region. and i am not sure if his kind of polemics about numbers and measures are getting us anywhere. they are simplyfying things by cutting singular events out of a long chain.

but the longer this war lasts the less i have an idea of the aims the governments of israel and the us are pushing at.

if it really was weakening the terrorist forces in the region, which would be an understandable motive, did they really think a fully fledged war killing civilians and annihilating a countries economy, ecology and social balance would be the right measure?

and even if they were shortsighted enough to think so in the beginning, can they be so narrowminded not to recognise their mistake after the reaction of not only the arab world? i can hardly believe that.

so what are their true goals? destabilisation? escalation? maybe. but for what purpose? causing a bigger war with iran and syria involved? with the us (and maybe britain) finally getting a reason to join in with all their military force? is it this kind of long planned strategy to finally get rid of the current governments in these countries? doesn't sound too unlikely, considering the well documented arrogant attitude of being "the axis of good".

but this would mean, that neither of those "leaders" has yet taken the chance to learn, that it is not just some ruthless functionaries and "their" armed forces, who resist to that kind of "liberation". it would mean, that they simply ignore that a growing part of the (so far) non extremist population is getting more and more enraged and averted.

but how can they ignore such an obvious fact? because they simply don't care? because their true interests are somewhere beyond the benefits and well-being of the population? do they really care for what they pretend to? the longer i watch this war progress, the less i think they do.

it is a horrible thought, that we - the peace-loving population of any country - may only have the choice between some backwards drifting religious zealots and some down-and-dirty ignorant spongers abusing their power. in my thoughts i am with all the innocent people in the lebanon suffering from this situation. it will be all but a great relief to you, but i'm afraid that lebanon is just the beginning. in the end it will reach us all.

stay safe and all the best wishes from germany.

2:20 AM  
Blogger Anon said...

What is there to dispute? Facts and figures are facts and figures. On the cover of the independent today 45% of the dead, 33% of the injured and 45% of the refugees are all children. This is a despicable state of affairs no matter who is fighting who, or for what purposes. Are these statistics reflected over the border?

There can be no avoidance of the fact that what has been unfolding is grossly disproportionate, even if we don’t normalise for metrics such as population and area. Surely this conclusion can be supported by logistical comparisons; on the one hand there are seaborne blockades where other sovereign nations require permission to pass and on the other we have youngsters partaking in a rite of passage summer tour. Wait a minute, is that ironic?

However, in paragraph four the article asks about the correctness of whether or not Israel is defending itself. But hasn’t the scope evolved from defending against the odd scurry over the border to defending against the holistic threat of a hostile entity? Aren’t Israel’s actions now more akin to the maxim of ‘attack is the best form of defence’? Afterall Hezbollah, irrespective of where they may hide themselves, are out to eradicate Israel, so with that knowledge Israel feels that it must act effectively...being oblivious to the words ‘inconsiderate’ and ‘despicable’.

I disagree wholeheartedly with paragraph seven, although in all truth I do not know what the definition of winning the battle actually is for either side. Yes Hezbollah are gaining support, but now so is Israel. In accordance with UK media coverage the tide seems to be turning; less time devoted to the plight of Lebanon and more to the maimed and killed in the north of Israel, the country now under threat from worsening strikes. However unfair, these strikes can be portrayed as terrorist acts easily – a word that the world can relate to.

Paragraph twelve seems ever so sweeping, and incorrect. Yes Britain worked expediently to evacuate their passport holders but that is far from the government’s only concern. OK, Blair is being dogmatic, as if a poodle to the US – but he is looking to implement a lasting peace.

In a nutshell, I feel that there is a resounding YES to the question of ‘are the Israeli actions disproportionate’. It deeply saddens me as to the undermining of cultural progression and the horrendous loss of life and upset but I must concede that from Israel’s perspective (after the irresponsible, unilateral, initial response to the Hezbollah incursion) it could have unfolded no other way.

2:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hezbollah care more about their people than all the Israelis on this blog seem to realise. And as for the argument that Israel would not attack Lebanon if it wasn't atacked is wholly flawed. This attack on LEbanon was a planned objective of the IDF, worked out in collaboration with ISrael for the last year. Israel is almost more afraid of Hezbollah disarming and integrating into the Lebanese army and government and becoming legitimate because then the Lebanese government would become even stronger in its unity against Israeli occupation of Lebanon - yes Shebaa - and the Golan HEights and the Occupied territories. For many Lebanese and Arabs - not all but many - resisting Israeli occupation of Arab land is a legitimate cause.
So Hezbollah acted against soldiers - a stated aim of theirs (it did not fire any rockets against Israel until 24 hours after Israel began its aerial bombardment of Beirut airport and LEbanese infrastructure - and Israel responded with its usual aplomb.
Remember in 1982 when Lebanon had no defences against Israel, ISrael invaded Lebanon for no reason better than a Abu Nidal members murdered the ISraeli ambassador in London (abu Nidal was at loggerheads with Arafat's PLO) and so Israel in retaliation decided to invade Lebanon (to rout the PLO from the south supposedly) and reached Beirut in spite of Reagan's objections in 6 hours.
Without the resistance Israel would be in Beirut now, carving out the new middle east - as Bush and co see it.
And they still might do it. Wait and see, but remember that Sykes-Picot agreements do not work in the modern world, and the Arabs will resist American plans for controlling oil using its Israeli proxy.
Just as America wants civil war in IRaq so it can keep it unstable, divide it and control its oil it has same the plans for Lebanon.
Vive la resistance!

2:28 AM  
Blogger sarah mac said...

as an american i feel a pang of regret and flush of shame whenever i see people refer to bush's administration as America. bush does not represent the thoughts and wants of the American public. he and his administration are experiencing a record low in public confidence and many of us are simply holding on until he is termed out in 2008. many of us aren't sure whether he won't lead us into WWIII. many of us cringe whenever we hear the man speak in public. many of us are absolutely certain that bush will enjoy the dubious title of 'the worst president in American history'.

no, the American people do not want civil war in Iraq.
no, the American people do not want Lebanon and Israel to be at war.
no, the American people do not want to dominate the planet in endless tyranny.

but isn't this similar to what's going on in Lebanon and Israel? i think disproportionality comes into play when people employ sweeping generalisations to describe the sentiments of a country's entire people.

i don't really know how anyone can pick sides on this one when it seems clear that the violence needs to end on both sides of the border. and i'm really tired of these declarations that one country is superior to another. unless the global community (and that means all of, me, him and her...not just a country's government/administration/head of state/etc) believes in peace and is willing to stop war mongering, we only have these kinds of diatribes and conflicts to look forward to.

3:17 AM  
Blogger Lilu said...

I have to say what troubles me most is the amount of hate it seems Atzmon has for his own people and the country he grew up in.. he hates us so much he can't stand being a part of us, and has left to find a place better suited to his definition of himself - as if he thought there was a mistake and he was meant to be born under a different nationality, and has gone about to correct that to the best of his ability.

Politicians are one thing, a country is another. I may not agree with my politicians but I love my country. As such, if I feel things are going wrong, if it is being led down the wrong path, I should do my best to stay and try and fight for change from within, for the good of my fellow countrymen and the land I love. To turn your back, to disassociate yourself, to run off and just find someplace more comfortable seems a bit cowardly to me... I wonder who has REALLY traumatized him so that he hates this place so much.

Sarah mac, you make some excellent points.

As for some of the other comments.. man this blog is taking a turn for the worse. It's too bad to see how much it has become flooded by ignorant, deluded, prejudiced comments (I wont even get into 2:28's bizarre rants, and man oh man how many mistakes!). Boy you guys are attracting some negative attention (and apparently some misguided foul mouthed children too). Where'd the genuine dialog go?

4:16 AM  
Blogger Clampett said...

Right here, Lilu.

The point of Israel is to draw the Muslims into endless wars so that the west may take the objects she disires inside the middle east. That was true in 1908 when bannerman said it and it's true now.

The muslims get bombed while we Americans relax in Cadillac cars, no ammount of apologetic rhetoric will erase that reality (Mac).

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to Lila and to the american citizen who feels ashamed that people are generalizing.
First of all you CANNOT snatch a country from its people and call this justice.
of course Gilad is going to feel ashamed, you cannot base a country on injustice, YOU SIMPLY CANNOT, the result is bound to be deaths and more deaths and more extremists on either side. Lila try to think objectively detach yourself, put yourself in everyone's shoes and then judge.
As for the American lady who feels ashamed that people are generalizing well do something about it since you live in a supposedly "democratic" country, stop voting for the biggets terrorist on earth

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly why are 2.28s comments lies Lilu? It seems there is a lot of truth to the comments if you can bring yourself not to buy into Israeli and American propaganda. This blogs seems to be being hijacked by Pro-Israelis more than anyone else. But i agree we need more dialogue.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Bono said...

hey Lilu - good points and thanks! Im also getting fedup reading this blog its like we had these conversations again and again... same old posts from the papers.... ( the well balanced media... ) :-)

anyway... I wonder if the prev post 11:03 anon is? could it be the selfhating Atzmon? gilad ? are you there?

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the people here are insane in their beliefs that it is normal and OK for non-military people to run around bombing other countries with rockets and kidnapping soldiers. It doesn't even matter if the people want them to, or if the other country stole land, or if the other country dresses up like clowns with big shoes and throws pasta salad at you over the border fence.

Hezbollah does NOT speak for Lebanon, and they have no political power as a normal military does. Until Hezbollah puts down their weapons as the last militia, Lebanon will get thrashed by real armies...this is real life. When people cheer as Hezbollah kills and kidnaps Isreali soldiers, it's funny to see them cry when their own family dies...and they thought it was OK for the families of those Isreali soldiers.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Lilu said...

I can't believe I'm even dignifying this, but ok, I'll let myself be childish a little:

2:28: "This attack on LEbanon was a planned objective of the IDF, worked out in collaboration with ISrael for the last year."

oh PUH-lease.... I'm sure he's made that conclusion on proven facts and not, oh, just urban legend type stories.. so here's some reality based facts to counter:
As an Israeli, born and raised here and a former soldier in the IDF (as most civilian Israelis are, army service is mandatory here you know), let me assure you, the many mistakes and accidents and the type of mistakes the IDF has visibly made, proves they were unprepared. They seem to be acting before thinking in too many cases - from the many errors during the abduction incident, that allowed for the kidnapping of the 2 soldiers (and trust me there were), all the way to Qana. This is not the sign of a pre-planned strategy.
Oh and there's a grammar mistake right there - the IDF is the army of Israel, it doesn't collaborate with it, it is a part of it.

Besides, I never said they were lies - they're just the paranoid, unbased conspiracy delusions some people like to live in. If you buy into that type of mad propaganda, then yeah, you'll find your own special truth in those comments.

As for hijacking - I haven't seen anyone forcefully change any posts or prevent anyone from speaking their mind so I'm not sure the blog has been hijacked at all, but if you insist on it, it seems the most common comments here are actually foul mouthed anti-Israeli slogans that have nothing to do with the questions asked in the posts. I'll try to run some statistics on that to see if this is a proven fact.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous tool said...

i am a self-hating jew!


5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have an odd feeling there are more people than just yourself that facking hates you.

6:00 PM  
Blogger JLB said...

Through all this “mayhem” and “destruction” on both sides of the line, we all stay awake at nights attempting to identify the guilty parties and place as much blame as possible on their shoulders. Once we have met our goal, we calmly drift off to sleep (that is if we not to close to the action) secure in the fact that in having made this decision – we can go on for another day.

In war there are no innocent or guilty people (or as it is screamed from the headlines daily, innocent civilians) there are just people who have been caught up in a conflict between the leaders of a cause or a country. Leaders who have an ego as big as 747s that occupies their life to a point of self-destruction, or the self satisfaction of knowing they are always correct in their decisions. They rush to the forefront of situations that they believe can only be solved with their direct participation, leaving behind any sense of reality and justification of their actions. In other words, they are nuts.

The people on both sides have made their choice on their leadership, as in the case of Lebanon, 1 million (+) have chosen to place leaders of the group in question in their parliamentary body. And their supreme leader, a non-elected individual with an extreme background in fanaticism, whereas his ego has caused him to verbally condemn the Jews to death. In Israel we find an “acting” Prime Minister with a background in journalism where he was a military correspondent during a previous war fought by Israel, who obviously wants the permanent post of PM to lead Israel for years to come.

And in the meantime, innocents from both sides suffer the actions and results of both individuals, from Israel with less fervor than from the group north of the border. Both sides also enjoy the support of a 400-lb bulldogs – Israel the western countries of world and the group in Lebanon, selected countries from the Fertile Crescent.

From the Fertile Crescent we find less beating of the drums for peace, albeit quiet on this front they are “accused” of supplying the force from Lebanon with weapons and out-of-date rockets, from the west we find full orchestra’s calling for peace, and yet supplying the party in question with up-to-date munitions, with a spotter plane high in the air, pinpointing they strike zones. And we find the body that is supposed to represent both parties continually crying foul on the entire action, I might add a very ineffective organization riddle with corruption and greed, sitting safely in their glass tower in New York City.

People die in wars, they always have and they will continue to do so. Just as land and its infrastructure is destroyed along with the will of the people to continually march from one battle to the next. Somewhere in all of this we find as the human race, the futility of war yet we continue to rain destruction on each other – for the few who carry the role of being leaders of a situation that has run wild. I am sure they see the destruction just as you and I do --- listening and watching every hour of their day the results of their actions. You sometimes wonder what are they and do they have a mirror? What is this that enables them to sleep at night, and how does their food taste when they sit at their daily meals, and how do they tune out the cries of the people who suffer directly from the Act of War!

10:42 PM  
Anonymous lebenese girl said...

As a lebanese girl i want to tell Israel to leave my country alone ,I had enough of seeing everyday blood .Its between you and Hizbollah ,not with these innocent peaple who are dying everyday without any reason . Now im talking from Canada ,but oneday Im coming back to my lovely country and hopefully return it the way it used to be, a beautiful flower.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peace is the only answer.

Cease fire now.

Hezbollah must be eliminated and Israel must be censored for excessive use of force.

12:56 AM  
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