Tue 21 May 2024 4:59 pm - Jerusalem Time

We lost the war.. Mediapart: Israel reveals a feeling of defeat and division

Far from the cynical or messianic policies that govern the country, Israel reveals a feeling of defeat and division, and an existential anxiety rooted in the living pain of October 7, and renewed every moment by the feeling that the country is stuck in Gaza, yet no feeling of Palestinian suffering emerges. 

With this introduction, the French website Mediapart opened an article by Joseph Confavro, which began with a strange question about the possibility of a solution that produces two states alongside the Palestinian state, which received symbolic progress in the United Nations.

This perception - according to the writer - was expressed by former Israeli diplomat Alon Pinkas, saying: “There are now two existing states: Israel and Judea, and they have a conflicting vision of what the nation should be, meaning that Israel, no matter what, will be divided into two states. Israel is a country of high technology and secularism.” And openness to the outside and liberalism, even if it is not ideal; and the Kingdom of Judea, the extreme anti-democratic and isolationist Jewish theocracy.”

The writer represented the divisions in Israeli society with the contrast between religious Jerusalem and ceremonial Tel Aviv, noting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government is destroying cemeteries and universities in Gaza, appears as if he is seeking to destroy Gaza’s past and future, and drag the Palestinians to the grave, and his citizens to the wall.


Confavro warned that the until now silent dispute between the army and Netanyahu, and even within the war government that was formed after October 7 with former chiefs of staff Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, has now become visible in the public arena.

Benny Gantz issued an ultimatum, in which he confirmed that he would withdraw from the coalition if a clear plan was not drawn up and approved before June 8, and he told Netanyahu: “If you choose to follow the path of fanatics and plunge the entire country into the abyss, we will be forced to resign from the government,” to respond. Netanyahu said that Gantz wants to "defeat Israel, keep the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) intact, and establish a Palestinian state."

However, the writer noted that the differences between the two men seem more strategic and personal than structural, and that they reflect the divisions of Israeli society, 40% of which prioritizes the attack on Rafah over reaching an agreement in favor of Gaza.

In this context, Defense Minister Yoav Galant spoke publicly to express his refusal to establish an “Israeli military regime” and the necessity of “Palestinian entities controlling Gaza” with the participation of international bodies, in direct contradiction to the Prime Minister’s positions.

“With these kinds of statements, Gallant is less prepared for the day after Hamas than he is for the day when members of this government will be tried for war crimes,” says Ami Dror, a former soldier turned businessman. “We are in a situation where the minister who is leading the war is openly claiming “The prime minister is acting against the country’s interests, and Israel is waging a war in order for Netanyahu to remain in power.”

Ami Dror believes that "the government today is less interested in ending the war than it is in transforming Israel into a state similar to what exists in Iran, as Netanyahu relies completely on the religious Zionists and the ultra-Orthodox, and he will even pay them the price of a settlement on the moon if they ask him to do so."

Everyday life without change

Ami Dror goes out - as the writer says - on Gordon Beach, where cafes offer an endless array of juices and fresh fruits in Tel Aviv, as if the longest war in Israel’s history did not exist, and as if blood and tons of rubble did not accumulate on the same line every day. Coastal south, it is as if parallel worlds, here made up of avocado toast and shrimp and there of famine-stricken children, could coexist for so long a stone's throw from each other.

However, behind the seemingly unchanged daily life, many expressed deep distress. “Most Israelis feel depressed because of the situation in the country,” says Oren Shevel, one of the founders of the “Brothers and Sisters in Arms” organization who lives in Kfar HaOranim, 30 kilometers east of Tel Aviv.

As images of Israeli detainees spread everywhere and show that the trauma of the October attacks and the fate of the detainees remains, the images of Gaza, bodies lined up by the dozens in plastic bags, destroyed hospitals, and mothers writing their children's names on their bodies so they can be identified, cannot be seen. See it in Israel.

On the other hand, a second element of the distress experienced by Israeli society emerges less explicitly, which is the belief of many people that the war is lost. Journalist Chaim Levinson says: “We must tell the truth. The inability to admit it determines everything you need to know about oneself.” "Israel, whether individually or collectively, we lost the war on October 7."

On the other hand, a second element of the distress experienced by Israeli society emerges less explicitly, which is the belief of many people that the war is lost. Journalist Chaim Levinson says: “We must tell the truth. The inability to admit it determines everything you need to know about oneself.” "Israel, whether individually or collectively, we lost the war on October 7."

As for Ami Dror, “We cannot win the war if we do not define its goals. I do not question the necessity of entering Gaza, but now we are entering it, exiting it, and entering it, until when and why?” As for director Sheri Tzur, she was more clear: “The Hamas trap succeeded until the end.” "We are in the same situation that the Americans experienced in Vietnam."

Feeling isolated

To the feeling of losing the war and the absence of the slightest sympathy for the dead civilians in Gaza, there is added the feeling of a relatively weak relationship with the United States, despite the continued flow of military and financial aid, as the writer says.

Oren Shevel says: "I am very concerned about the way the world views Israel today. This can be felt in the media, but also in my work. We find ourselves forced to defend ourselves before the International Court of Justice even though we are under attack by people who want to eliminate us."

This feeling of isolation - according to the writer - constitutes the third decisive element of the current distress experienced by a large section of Israeli society, as rejection by loyal allies such as Germany and the United States, and the flight of nearly 800,000 people from the fighting since the Israeli attack, leads to strengthening tendencies. And the obsessive fears of the population of Israel.

Sheri Tzur says: “I have long campaigned for post-Zionism, but I have never been a Zionist in my life, in the sense of the right to a national homeland for persecuted Jews around the world. I believed that it was possible to achieve peace by returning the occupied territories, and making compensation.” The refugees of 1948, and establishing true equality with the Palestinians in Israel, but I no longer believe in that.”

“The main enemy for me - she says - has always been the Israeli right and the extreme right, but now I realize that we are surrounded by more dangerous enemies. Now where can I go if I have to leave with my family, to Europe where people have to hide their Jewishness or to the United States? Where universities promise that Palestine will be liberated from the river to the sea?

Although opponents of government policy sometimes express their disagreement with the way the war is being conducted in Gaza, the martyrdom of thousands of Gazan children does not constitute part of the current malaise in Israeli society.

Call for non-violence

“Everything has become more difficult since October 7, because the levels of hatred and fear are incomparable to anything we have ever seen before,” admits Avner Wischnitzer, a former Israeli army commando and co-founder of the organization.

The man almost gets angry when we ask him about his demand for nonviolence. Could he really be heard after October 7, to say: “We are accused of naivety, but we know what it means to bear arms and kill and we also know what it means to give them up. Responding with force alone is childish, if Israel does not understand that its existence cannot exist.” On force alone, it would cease to exist. British journalist Chaim Levinson says that Israel today is nothing more than “a refuge with air power.”

A few days ago, Combatants for Peace organized a joint Jewish-Palestinian event with the Parents Circle Families Forum, an organization that brings together Jewish and Palestinian families grieving over the death of a child at the hands of Palestinian or Israeli fighters.

Is it at least a matter of sharing suffering at a time when sharing territory seems more likely than ever before? Joseph Confafro asked. “We are not a support group,” says Ruby Damelin, one of the leaders of this movement. “We have an agenda. We simply know that revenge will get us nowhere, and that it is necessary to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis do not live in parallel worlds, as they do today. Acknowledging the suffering of others because they Similar to you, it could be a step towards meeting.”

Source: Mediapart+ Aljazeera


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We lost the war.. Mediapart: Israel reveals a feeling of defeat and division