In his article in the British paper, The Independent (31 July 2006), Robert Fisk laments the deaths of children in Qana and says that whoever is not shaken by the terrible slaughter committed there, intentionally – after all, the Israeli Air Force repeatedly says that it fires only at targets that are precise and well-planned – has a heart of stone. Indeed, lately it seems that the entire world has a heart of stone, but most disturbing is the heart of stone of the three mothers [members of the “four mothers” protest movement that led the calls for withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000] who were interviewed in the Ha’aretz magazine last Thursday (“This time it’s different, this time there’s no choice”), and the heart of stone of Yitzhak Frankenthal, founder of a group of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian parents for peace, reconciliation, and patience, who published an announcement on Thursday costing tens of thousands of dollars supporting the “war.” Others with hearts of stone are the writers Amos Oz and A. B. Yehoshua, and anyone who delights in their return to the embrace of the consensus and the erotic enthusiasm for “our heroic boys.” The three mothers that were interviewed gushed about “how handsome he was in uniform” when they speak of their children that died on the altar of Arik Sharon’s megalomania in Lebanon, or who stayed alive in order to continue to be handsome in uniform even today, as they mercilessly slaughter helpless women and children in order to serve Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz’s display of masculinity and the Commander in Chief’s pursuit of death and destruction. The mothers wrap themselves in the warm and blazing embrace of the Israeli occupation army, and imagine that it is saving us from the possibility of slaughter if we do not defend ourselves.
Who is the mother in Israel that will get up and open the eyes of the bereaved mothers and fathers and say that no one is handsome in uniform? No one is cute in the “uniform of brutality.” Who is the mother that will get up and say that that the killers of children, who destroy and burn, are none other than their sons, your little “chicks,” your “diamonds.” These are children who were taught throughout their school years to hate the other, to always fear the other, and to see their neighbor as a problem to be solved. And not only are your children butchers and killers, but with the passionate support of mom and dad. With the support of the entire nation, the only nation for whom the death of disabled children does not move one vertebra. A people that glow over a Commander in Chief who feels nothing but a click on the wings when he drops bombs on entire families and crushes them to death. What a masculine and sexy word: to crush. How good it is to crush “them.” Who, exactly, is being crushed? It’s not clear, not to the three mothers, nor to anyone else, only the sense that the crushing somehow sooths the awful fear of the other, across the border.
“Today I am living an experience of slaughter. More than any other time, I know that if the IDF catches a virus, the next day there will be no state of Israel,” says one of the mothers, filling the word “slaughter” with everything that they drilled into us over the years with Bialik’s poem “On the Slaughter.” But the IDF will not “catch a virus” because the IDF is already infected with viruses, just like the viruses that the scientist Richard Dawkins calls “viruses of the brain,” viruses that pass from the brains of adults to the soft brains of children, and infect them with the two worst human diseases: the desire for endless revenge and the need to label people so as to see them not as human beings, but as threatening groups. These viruses, says Dawkins, take control of the whole system, like computer viruses. He wrote this with respect to the catholic faith, but it is the only explanation that I can come up with for the three mothers, for Frankenthal, and the others who enjoy destruction rejoice in battle. The virus of fear of the other, the virus that dulls the senses at the sight of the fire that consumes entire houses on top of their inhabitants, the virus that cheers the uniforms of brutality, and power. Only these viruses can explain the complacency and satisfaction of the citizens of Israel at the sight of the little bodies descending into the kingdom of the dead children that continues to grow beneath our feet, joining the bodies of our own children who died to sounds of battle celebrations and on the altar of revenge, which is called for by adults who were supposed to watch over the children and educate them for peace. “I already have a sense of no exit. I understand that they want us in the sea. No matter what we do, they want us in the sea,” laments Orna Shimoni, without stopping to consider who is really leading us into this frightening sea?
“This is an existential war, a war for our very lives,” says one of the mothers. You’ve got that right. It is indeed an existential war. The Israeli government, of which there is hardly a single one who is not under some kind of police investigation, for bribery, theft, or sexual harassment, this government of would-be delinquents, that everyone is rushing to support and embrace, is indeed leading us to annihilation. In the unbridled drive of its senior members to demonstrate their power they send with a crushing blow all the seeds – our seeds – and destroying them in vain. Not their own seeds, dear mothers, but ours. It is indeed a war for our home, but who is destroying the home but this hedonistic gang?
“Thus I feel that despite the terrible pain, this war is just and necessary and needed in order to defend our lives. And thus I think that even when we remove hundreds of thousands of Lebanese from their homes, it is not only correct, but moral.” Who exactly is removing “hundreds of thousands” from their homes? And to where are they being evacuated? And why aren’t they evacuating on their own? Do they love dying? Or maybe their failure to evacuate is part of the propaganda (a word we always attach to Arabs) of the Hezbollah? And why do you say “despite the terrible pain” only in passing? Is it that the terrible pain of the death of children is not worthy of a full sentence when coming from the mouth of a mother? No, since after all we’re talking about the children of others. And what exactly is moral about this? Is there another morality for the state of Israel? Who applies it? Who is the moral figure that is leading this hard-hearted people? Maybe your dead children, as you explained – mothers without motherhood – that they must sacrifice their lives for the sake of the army of occupation and evil.
The voice of the three mothers is not a maternal voice. It is the voice of distorted, lost, confused, and sick motherhood. The Jewish mother, Mother Courage, who protects her children with all her strength, the mother that cannot find consolation or comfort in the death of children of another mother, has vanished from the land of the Jews.