[bankrupt] Merav Michaeli and the besieged Israel

Labour leader Merav Michaeli (MW)

Jonathan Ofir

Mondoweiss  /  August 7, 2022

Merav Michaeli, leader of Israel’s Labor Party, taunts two million Palestinians who are under siege in Gaza: “No sovereign state would accept a siege on its residents by a terror organization.”

Here is what Israeli Transport Minister Merav Michaeli, who is the leader of the Labor Party, tweeted on Friday afternoon as Israel initiated its unprovoked seasonal onslaught on Gaza– which at the point of writing has claimed the lives of 31 Gazan Palestinians including 6 children, with 0 Israeli deaths.

The residents of Israel deserve to live in security. No sovereign state would accept a siege on its residents by a terror organization [my emphasis]

It really does take some nerve to turn reality on its head like that. The short tweet (which also included threats to Islamic Jihad and “I strengthen the hand of the security forces”) made no mention of the siege that Gaza has experienced now, for 15 years in its current, inhumane form.

No, it is the Israelis, who suffer hardly any casualties at all, thanks to protective anti-missile Iron Dome system as well as many protective shelters that are everywhere, including private homes – they are “besieged”.

Surely, Michaeli is aware of the language she applies. It has been pointed out to her. The first tweet response from Israeli journalist Israel Frey said:

From reality a response was received: If someone here is besieged, it is Gaza by Israel.

But this is not bound to garner any serious moral awakening from the self-righteous Michaeli. Israel is under “siege”, and nothing else matters. We can’t live like this.

Such feigning of victimhood lies deep in the DNA of Zionism, not least in its Laborite form. It is reminiscent of how the late Abba Eban, the Laborite Foreign Minister, described Israel’s frontiers 50 years ago as “Auschwitz borders”.

Yes, Eban was speaking in 1969 at the UN and explaining why Israel couldn’t return to its so-called “1967 borders” — which were the 1949 ceasefire lines, which were an expansion of the borders assigned by the United Nations in 1947– because those borders were supposedly so slim, they carry “something of a memory of Auschwitz”, and Eban was emphasizing that he is “not exaggerating”.

Well then I suppose I am not exaggerating– nor is Haaretz journalist Amira Hass— when pointing out that if someone here is in a concentration camp, it is Gaza, by reason of the Israeli siege.

One of the biggest problems with the Iron Dome system, which is heavily financed by the US, is that Israelis can absorb many more of the seasonal Gaza onslaughts, because they cost them very few lives if any. Yes, some of them may have to run for shelter, especially in the south, to secure against the alleged 5% of rockets that are not intercepted by the system – those rockets will interrupt their lives and put some in a state of anxiety – but it is incomparable to what Gazans will have to suffer with indiscriminate bombings on an unprotected civilian population.

And I am all for security and safety, for all. But because of the nature of this situation and the egregiously lopsided balance of powers, the Iron Dome system serves as a tranquilizer for Israelis, thus reducing the pressure to stop attacking Gaza. In this sense, the Iron Dome is an unofficial and indirect attack weapon, not a defensive one.

And when rockets are not disturbing the peace of the Israelis, almost none of those Israelis want to know about the unlivable reality that they have forced Gaza into.

Michaeli’s usage of the word “siege” was apparently in reference to a few days where Israeli towns in the south were on alert due to reported fear of reprisal by Islamic Jihad, after Israel arrested its leader Bassam al-Saadi in Jenin in the occupied West Bank last Monday. But those who were again really besieged were the Palestinians of Gaza, because even their few outlets for basic medical necessities as well as fuel to the power plant, were shut down. That plant was shut down due to lack of fuel. Gazans are now down to emergency electricity for about 4 hours per day. The humanitarian organization Gisha called on Thursday for an opening of these crossings:

The block on exit of goods also compounds the financial losses caused by the closure of the crossings, and this for an economy already devastated by decades of restrictions and the last 15 years of Israeli-imposed closure on the Strip. Israel’s decision to close Gaza’s crossings has grave repercussions for Palestinians in Gaza and adds to the impact of the illegal closure it enforces regularly.

But no, it is Israel that is under siege, says Michaeli.

Michaeli surely knows that her use of the word siege is directly taunting Palestinians, by mocking and belittling the Gaza siege. That is highly offensive, but do not expect to see Michaeli correct her reference, or apologize. On the contrary – Israel’s “government of change” is now trying to prove its worth as a belligerent government, especially because its leader, the interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid is considered a liberal (he is no such thing) centrist and has no military credentials to speak of. The Gaza onslaught is now his manhood test, with F-35 fighter jets set loose upon the largely defenseless Gazan population. And Michaeli, the supposed leftist (she is no such thing) needs to strengthen his hand by strengthening the hand of the security forces.

The “change” government is now in a competition with Benjamin Netanyahu, its rival in the upcoming election, about Who can be quicker on the trigger, and this one went really quick.

Once the onslaught is over, the situation of supposed “stability” –Gaza under siege but no rockets– just needs to hold for three months, until the November 1st elections. So that Lapid, Michaeli and their likes can show that they too can “mow the lawn” of Gaza just as well as a Netanyahu-government, if not better. And of course Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who boasted during the 2019 election campaign that he had returned Gaza “to the stone age,” will be an asset in that effort.

Israelis can’t tolerate a siege, even if it’s imagined and concocted, when it’s on them. But if it’s on Gaza, then that’s ok, as long as the Gazans don’t complain or misbehave.

Jonathan Ofir is an Israeli musician, conductor and blogger/writer based in Denmark