Israel’s pillar of impotence
By Gilad Atzmon
In the past week the people of Gaza have been at the receiving end of intensive Israeli attacks. Some Hamas leaders and fighters have been murdered and many more Palestinians – innocent civilians, babies, kids women and elderly people – have also lost their lives. Yet Gaza is celebrating and Hamas has become more popular.
So here is an interesting anecdote that deserves our attention. During the recent clashes Gazan fighters launched more than 1,500 rockets at Israel. These rockets caused rather limited damage and some six Israeli fatalities. Militarily at least, this is far from a great achievement.
Yet the people of Gaza celebrating. Would Israelis have been happy if 1,500 of their rockets had had such limited effect? Would any Western army accept such a result at such a cost? The answer is a categorical no.
But the Palestinians are ecstatic, and this is because they know they have won the battle and are now set to win the war. They won the battle not because they killed six Israelis – actually, they would have won it without killing a single Israeli. They won it because they managed to deliver a message to Israel, world Jewry and the whole world.
Facing up to the original sin
For many years I have argued that the Palestinian war of the rockets should be seen as a message: “Israelis, you are on stolen land! You took our houses, villages, cities, fields and orchards. You pushed us into the desert. You surrounded us with barbed wire. You starve us and you kill us simply to suit your political ambitions. So, this rocket is a message to you all. Think about us and then look at yourself in the mirror. Enough is enough!”
For more than six decades the Israelis have dismissed this message. They surrounded themselves with ghetto walls and have sealed their skies with an Iron Dome. However, with Tel Aviv now under attack, Israel and Israelis have been confronted with their original sin.
The Palestinians are stronger than ever while the Jewish state has been exposed as an impotent manic-depressive collective driven by a neurotic and impotent leadership.
In the last two days the Israeli media have been admitting the colossal defeat in the so-called Operation Pillar of Cloud. Just yesterday [22, the Israeli right wing Ynet wrote: Hamas stood up and won on almost all fronts… Hamas has managed to turn focus on to Gaza, it made it into the centre of the political discussion.” It seems that the most hawkish Israel government ever has failed to beat either Hamas or the Palestinian spirit. The Palestinians are stronger than ever while the Jewish state has been exposed as an impotent manic-depressive collective driven by a neurotic and impotent leadership.
If Zionism was ever there to counter Jewish diaspora ghetto paralysis, to ensure that “never again” would Jews be “led like lambs to the slaughter”, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Avigdor Lieberman have proved in the past week that paralysis is inherent to Jewish political culture. Like all bullies, they are obsessed with power but, when they meet defiance, their vile paradigm instantly collapses.
Speech can provides us with an insight into what we most lack. Speech can reveal that which we prefer to keep hidden. But speech is also often rather misleading, there to shape our lies into a truthful narrative. But it is these “true lies” that provide access to the fearful-self. It is these “true lies” that reveal the unconscious.
So when, for instance Jewish “anti- Zionists” preach to us about Jewish “humanism and universalism” they are obviously lying, but are they not also expressing a yearning for such an ethos to really exist in their own culture? Similarly, when Israel refers to itself as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, is this not because Israel would really love to be such a true democracy?
In other words, often when we speak we demonstrate what we most lack, i.e. that which we miss and desire, but we cannot admit this to ourselves. When Netanyahu decided to designate his latest massacre as a Pillar of Cloud, he actually tried to disguise from himself and his people the fact that, in reality, he is actually impotent, and the cloud is actually one big duvet of lies – there only to conceal his shame.
Deterrence and melancholia
Israel and the Israelis love to talk about their “power of deterrence” – the power to deter Palestinians and Arabs from even contemplating the possibility of challenging the Jewish state. In fact, the entire Israeli foreign and military policy can be realized with reference to that power. Israel likes to see itself at the core of its neighbours’ anxiety. This explains the Israeli fascination with the accumulation of nuclear bombs and other weapons of mass destruction. It explains the policy towards Iran and it also explains its brutal attitude towards the Palestinians.
Israelis are obsessed with “deterrence” only because, deep down, they are aware of their own vulnerability. Israelis are fanatical about “deterrence” because they know that, when push comes to shove, they themselves are actually powerless. They are now exposed for what they are: a fragmented society dominated by egotistic hedonism. Israelis know that their underbelly is very soft indeed.
Israelis were caught with their trousers down – and believe me, the vision of their collective genitalia was not a pretty sight!
The Israelis’ collective melancholia must be realized in the light of their inevitable encounter with their true nature. As Ynet admits, they have been defeated in almost every possible respect. As a society, they have been caught naked and their imaginary collective bond has proved to be a farce. In spite of Israel’s mighty, sophisticated army the Hamas leadership, together with the people of Gaza, remained defiant. In spite of relentless air raids, and until the very last moment, Hamas kept firing its rockets – reminding Israelis what life in Gaza is really like. When it seemed that the Israeli air force had done its worst (but achieved so little), the Israeli government called up 75,000 reservists, hoping against hope that such a move would bully Hamas into surrender. Again it was wrong. Ismail Haniyah made things very clear when he invited the Israeli reservists to try their luck and enter the strip. Israelis were caught with their trousers down – and believe me, the vision of their collective genitalia was not a pretty sight!
“Unconscious is the discourse of the other,” says Jacques Lacan. The fear of impotence is not the fear that you may not be up to much in bed. It is actually the unconscious nightmare that everyone around you is saying behind your back that you’re not up to much in bed. Right now Israelis are not just admitting their impotence to themselves, they have also become aware that they are exposed as a bunch of arrogant, cowardly and helpless barbarians.
By the time it became clear that the Pillar wasn’t even semi-erect and the Cloud couldn’t cover even that embarrassing truth, Netanyahu, Barak and Lieberman, as well as the whole of Israeli society, realized that nothing was left of Israel’s power of deterrence. The Palestinians have lost their fear.