A verbal juggling act
Auschwitz speech, response to Goldstone characterized by dishonesty
Two days separated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at Auschwitz and Israel’s response to the Goldstone Report. The two texts were very different in terms of their importance, length, and their intended audience. The Netanyahu speech was aimed at the Polish government, which currently holds an important EU status, while Israel’s response to the Goldstone report was meant to appease the UN.
Yet despite the differences, it appears that the same person is responsible for drafting both texts; someone who specializes in verbal deception.
Speaking at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, the greatest extermination facility in history, which was built in Polish territory (and not coincidently) and was operated by Poles, Netanyahu managed to skip the enthusiastic role played by the Poles in the Holocaust. In terms of their dedication to persecuting Jews, turning them over to the Nazis, and their active role in the extermination industry, the Poles were second only to the Germans, and sometimes even more devoted than them to the extermination work.
The murders within Polish territory continued even after the German were defeated. According to estimates, about 1,500 Jews were murdered in independent pogroms approved by the new regime; many of them took place on city streets while an excited Polish crowd cheered on. The Righteous Gentiles among them were few, at the very margins of society.
Yet the Netanyahu speech aimed to blur this terrible story. The address sought to turn the central theme – that is, the lively popular anti-Semitism – into the margins, while turning the margins of the Righteous Gentiles into the central theme.
Israel’s response to the Goldstone Report is premised on the very same verbal juggling act. Israel has declared that it adheres to universal war conventions, but according to these conventions Israel agreed not to use white phosphorous bombs. Were such bombs used in Operation Cast Lead? It’s a trivial question, as all of us saw these bombs being fired, and the results, on television. We saw them time and again even in photos released by the IDF spokesman.
And were hundreds of Palestinian children killed? This time, Israel did not deny. How could it? However, “we found no evidence that would justify a criminal investigation.” The same was true in respect to cases where the IDF fired at medical teams. According to Israel’s response, the judge advocate general launched dozens of thorough investigation, but somehow everything and everyone turned out to be fine.
According to the judge advocate general, thus far authorities have not uncovered even one affair where the army misbehaved. After all, we are the world’s most merciful and most just army and we take the greatest precautions not to hurt civilians. No wrongdoing was found even in the case of the inexplicable fire directed at the home of Gaza doctor Abu al-Ayash and the killing of three of his daughters.
However, in the interest of accuracy and to prove that the IDF indeed does everything to maintain its purity of arms, authorities did uncover one severe case of wrongdoing. They found that a soldier stole a Palestinian’s credit card during the operation. The soldier was tried and punished; apparently, this soldier is our atonement.