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Killing People as 'Mowing the Lawn': How Israeli Hardliners and Official Washington Dehumanize the People of Palestine

Posted by on Nov. 19, 2012 at 2:29 AM
  • 47 Replies

Israeli hardliners joke about the periodic need to decimate each new generation of Palestinian militants as “mowing the grass,” a process underway again in new bombardments of Gaza.

 

Children walking next to the ruins of the Civil Department of the Ministry of Interior building, which was completely destroyed in the morning, in the neighborhood of Tal el Hawa, Gaza city, November 17, 2012.
Photo Credit: Anne Paq/Activestills.org

 
 
 
 

In early 2010, one of Washington DC’s most prestigious think tanks was holding a seminar on the Middle East which included a discussion of Israel’s December 2008-January 2009 assault on Gaza which killed about 1,300 Palestinians. When the death toll was mentioned, one expert on the panel smiled enigmatically and intoned: “It’s unfortunate, but every once in a while you have to mow the lawn.”

The remark, which likened killing hundreds of men, women and children – many of them noncombatants – with trimming the grass, was greeted with a light tittering around the room, which was filled with some of Washington’s most elite, highly educated and well-paid Middle East experts. Not a single one objected to the panelist’s black humor.

On the contrary, several analysts and experts were grinning at the reference to Israel’s strategy of mounting periodic attacks on the Palestinians to cull each new generation of militants. Such is the nonchalance of Washington’s policy-advising cognoscenti toward the ongoing and systematic genocide of Gaza’s oppressed population.

The cavalier language is symptomatic of the policymaking community’s increasingly pervasive tendency to disregard and disparage the humanity of Palestinian victims of Israeli attacks, which are often waged by Israel’s high-tech drones and U.S.-supplied F-16’s. There is also a tendency to ignore or downplay Israeli war crimes.

This dangerously sociopathic attitude is prevalent whether cloaked in a cheap joke or reflected in the failure by the State Department spokesman to condemn or even acknowledge the criminality of Israel’s latest aerial and sea-based bombardment of Palestinian civilians, at least 18 of whom have been killed in the past 48 hours. Three Israelis also have died in retaliatory rocket fire.

After the latest attacks, the State Department’s statement justified Israel’s bombardment of Gaza as Israel’s “right to defend itself” against the launching of relatively primitive rockets, mostly by radical groups, from inside Gaza. Yet, while the State Department urged both sides to avoid civilian casualties, nowhere was there mention of the Palestinians’ right to defend themselves from various attacks by Israel. Apparently only one side is granted that privilege, according to the U.S. statement.

The relegation of Palestinians to a less-than-human status by Israel and the United States – especially the inhabitants of Gaza who are perpetually locked into an open-air prison and subject to an Israeli blockade – was noted by MIT professor Noam Chomsky after a visit to Gaza to attend an academic conference. In comments broadcast by “Democracy Now” on Nov. 14, Chomsky remarked:

“It’s kind of amazing … and inspiring to see people managing somehow to survive … as essentially caged animals subject to constant, random, sadistic punishment – only to humiliate them – no pretext. They [the Palestinians] would like to have dignified lives, but the standard Israeli position is that they shouldn’t raise their heads.”

Instead of a serious effort to reach a peace acceptable to both sides, Israel seems to prefer a state of endless conflict with the Palestinians. After all, the prospect of peace might require the Israeli government to treat their neighbors as equals and withdraw from territory occupied since 1967.

So, rather than making meaningful concessions, some Israeli hardliners simply promote the idea of periodically “mowing the grass,” i.e. killing the latest generation of Palestinian militants who sprout up from the injustice all around them. Perhaps that is why Israel broke an informal ceasefire on Wednesday by assassinating Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari in an air strike.

Jabari was killed hours after he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the ceasefire, according to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate talks between Israel and Hamas for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Jabari was a key Palestinian interlocutor in the release of Shalit, and an important intermediary for truce negotiations with groups such as the PFLP and Islamic Jihad. Such a relatively moderate figure may have been perceived as a threat to Israeli leaders who prefer to portray Hamas as rejectionist toward any peace.

These developments and the U.S. response to them are a chilling omen for those who had hoped for a change in U.S. Middle East policy after the U.S. presidential election – namely, increased pressure on Israel to halt its cruel oppression of Palestinians and obey international law.

There is still a window of opportunity for the U.S. to shift its approach before the violence spirals out of control. One also can hope that President Barack Obama is working the phones to rein in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But Obama’s eerie and reprehensible silence during the Israeli assault on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009 must not be repeated.


Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis.

by on Nov. 19, 2012 at 2:29 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Goodwoman614
by Satan on Nov. 19, 2012 at 10:58 AM

BUMP!

Goodwoman614
by Satan on Nov. 19, 2012 at 10:59 AM

BUMP!

Goodwoman614
by Satan on Nov. 19, 2012 at 10:59 AM

BUMP!

GLWerth
by Gina on Nov. 19, 2012 at 11:16 AM

I was speechless when I read this.

I guess that dehumanizing those they see as inferior is OK for Israel, though you'd think they'd recall how it was done to those who came before them.

Claire-Huxtable
by on Nov. 19, 2012 at 11:18 AM
2 moms liked this

Yeah, because they never dehumanize Israelis.

batmansgirl
by Bronze Member on Nov. 19, 2012 at 11:26 AM
1 mom liked this
So Israel has no right to defend itself? This article is one sided.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Aamy
by Silver Member on Nov. 19, 2012 at 11:28 AM
1 mom liked this
Palestine is just as much at fault as Israel. Both countries need to know it off.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
D.O.E.
by on Nov. 19, 2012 at 11:48 AM
3 moms liked this

you know what, it is shit like this that makes me wonder if hitler knew what he was doing. i am sorry, but these people experienced genocide, and are now comminting genocide. did they not learn? how is it ok for them to just kill. fighting back is not allowed, just shut up and don't worry about it, you will be dead soon. time to mow the lawn :)

sonsofbitches.

D.O.E.
by on Nov. 19, 2012 at 11:54 AM
3 moms liked this

what the fuck does israel need to defend itself from? out of date and largly useless rockets?

Quoting batmansgirl:

So Israel has no right to defend itself? This article is one sided.

Israelis and Palestinians Killed in the Current Violence

At least 6,617 Palestinians and 1,097 Israelis
have been killed since September 29, 2000.

Hover over each bar for exact numbers.
Number of People Killed Per YearIsraelisPalestinia...200020012002200320042005200620072008200920102011201203006009001,200Year

American news reports repeatedly describe Israeli military attacks against the Palestinian population as “retaliation.” However, when one looks into the chronology of death in this conflict, the reality turns out to be quite different.

SourceB'Tselem, The Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. (Visit their statistics page, last updated August 31, 2012.)

The numbers cited above include civilians and combatants killed by members of the opposing nationality (and therefore, do not include Palestinians killed by an explosive device that they set or was on their person, Israelis killed in 'friendly fire' incidents, etc.). The numbers also do not include the sizable number of Palestinians who died as a result of inability to reach medical care due to Israeli road closures, curfews, the Israeli closure of border crossing from Gaza, etc.

The figure for Palestinian deaths is extremely conservative, since it is difficult for B'Tselem to report on deaths in the Palestinian territories. The Palestine Red Crescent Society, internationally respected for its statistical rigor, reports significantly higher numbers of Palestinian deaths. We do not doubt the reliability of their data, and only use B'Tselem's more conservative numbers because they collect data on both populations.

In the past we used the statistics provided by Israel’s military for the number of Israelis killed, but they have not updated their statistics page since early in 2006. In addition, there is reason to believe that their numbers may have been somewhat inflated.

Breakdown of Deaths

 Israelis

Palestinians

Children Killed
(More on the impact on children.)
124
Remember These Children
1,452
Remember These Children
Civilians* Killed731
B'Tselem
3,535 - 4,226
B'Tselem
People killed in the course of a targeted killing1408 or more
B'Tselem
People who were the object of a targeted killing1238
B'Tselem
People killed on own land586 (54.1%)
B'Tselem
6,359 (98.9%)
B'Tselem
People killed on others' land498 (45.9%)
B'Tselem
71 (1.1%)
B'Tselem

* The Palestinian people do not have a military, so the usual classification of civilian is not being used. Instead B'Tselem provides data on the number of Palestinians who did not participate in hostilities, a significantly more stringent qualification than the one used to identify Israeli civilians. We do not know how many of the Israelis listed as civilians participated in the hostilities. Many settlers who illegally have taken over parts of the West Bank (and used to live in parts of the Gaza Strip) are heavily armed and there have been numerous reports of their brutal attacks on their Palestinian neighbors.

Causes of Deaths of Israeli Soldiers
2005

Committed Suicide30
Illness14
Accidents26
Terror Incidents6

Source: Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv, Oct. 10, 2005, p. 6.
Note: The paper also reported that since 1992, 459 Israeli soldiers have committed suicide.

muslimahpj
by Ruby Member on Nov. 19, 2012 at 12:17 PM
3 moms liked this

We dehumanize people from other countries here all the time, how else do we explain the drone attacks and wars? 

It's hard to say it's ok to kill people when we actually think of them as people.

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