Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

Retired US Colonel on IDF Abuses

Colonel W. Patrick Lang (Ret.) has an excellent blog at Sic Temper Tyrannis. Here is a sobering excerpt from a recent post describing his impressions of Israeli ground forces:

In Beit Suhur outside Bethlehem, I have seen IDF troops shoot at Palestinian Christian women hanging out laundry in their gardens.  This was done with tank coaxial machine guns from within a bermed up dirt fort a couple of hundred yards away, and evidently just for the fun of it.  In Bethlehem a lieutenant told me that he would have had his men shoot me in the street during a demonstration that I happened to get caught in, but that he had not because he thought I might not be a Palestinian and that if I were not the incident would have caused him some trouble.  I have seen a lot of things like that.  One might say that in war, s–t happens.  That is true, but such behavior is indicative of an army that is not well disciplined and not a completely reliably instrument of state policy.  In my travels in the west Bank in March of 2008, it was noticeable that the behavior towards Palestinian civilians of IDF troops at roadblocks was reminiscent of that of any group of post-adolescents given guns and allowed to bully the helpless in order to look tough for each other.  I think the IDF would be well advised to grow some real sergeants.

Prior to this, he writes,

[ … ] the Israeli government’s policy in the present action in the Gaza Strip has been to avoid civilian casualties whenever possible.  [contestable, perhaps officially that’s the policy but evidence particularly in Israel’s current Gaza operation strongly suggests otherwise].  Based on personal experience of the behavior of IDF conscripts toward Palestinian civilians, I would say that the Israeli government has little control over what individual groups of these young Israeli soldiers may do in incidents like the one yesterday in which mortar fire was directed toward UN controlled school buildings.

One comment on “Retired US Colonel on IDF Abuses

  1. peoplesgeography
    11 January, 2009

    One is reminded here of the description of Israel as the “Prussia of the Middle East”, a military attached to a state rather than a state that has a military. The phrase was coined by Count de Mirabeau, one of the instigators of the French Revolution, writing in an essay that “war is the national industry of Prussia”. So too is perpetual war the national industry of Israel, perhaps moreso than any other state, include the permanent war economy that is the United States.

    The above description also invokes Tony Judt’s characterisation as a state bully who refuses to go up.

    The Soviet experiment, initiated mostly by Jews, lasted just over 70 years. At just over 60, will the zionist experiment also have a limited shelf-life? With its internal logic of militarism and genocide against the native inhabitants of Palestine, one certainly hopes so.

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This entry was posted on 11 January, 2009 by in Gaza, Israel, Palestine and tagged , , .

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

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-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

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to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"