Sorry to remind you (but Golda Meir was right!)
The video of a motorcade features about a dozen Palestinian gunmen joyfully riding nine motorcycles, shooting in the air in victory and dragging behind the body of a man they had just killed on suspicion that he was collaborating with Israel. The victim was one of the six Palestinians the Palestinians had killed.
The same video also shows dozens of younger Palestinians, some aged, perhaps, 8 or 9, proudly filming the scene or taking pictures of the historic moment with their cell phones. About a day later, the mood in the Gaza Strip turned more joyful. Another “hudna” – temporary peace – had been “won,” and the enemy had been “defeated again.”
Later during the day, the international press reported celebratory bursts of gunfire, cheering and chanting, minutes after the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas came into effect. Gunmen from all corners of the Gaza City emerged on the streets to celebrate “victory.” Some of the “victors” let off fireworks from rooftops. Along Gaza City’s waterfront, a loudspeaker on a mosque repeated over and over: Allahu Akbar. God is great.
A local told the Guardian: “They bombed us, they killed our women and children, but they could not stop the resistance. So, they had to surrender and agree to stop the assassinations. They learned we cannot be defeated by their bombs.”
When Adel Mansour spoke these proud words, about 150 Palestinians and five Israelis had lost their lives. In the eight-day war, the Israeli military had targeted more than 1,500 sites in Gaza with air strikes and shelling, more than 1,000 rockets had been fired at Israel and a blast had ripped through a bus in Tel Aviv, injuring 17 people.
Yet another hudna is another victory. So think the Palestinians. And they celebrate. They celebrate their dead women and children. They celebrate the “victory” with bursts of gunfire, cheering, chanting and fireworks. Fireworks for 150 or so coffins. Fireworks to celebrate the 150 martyrs and five enemies.
Fireworks to celebrate because the enemy had failed to kill more than 150. Fireworks to celebrate because five “Jooos and six traitors” had been killed. Victory, that is. Or so think the willing martyrs.
Like the previous ones, the latest hudna is a pause, not peace. It reminds one of Ambrose Bierce’s “The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary,” which describes peace as “a period of cheating between two periods of fighting.” Peace, that is, victory.
Meanwhile, the victors keep on celebrating their victory. All the same, there is something bizarre in the whole picture. The victors celebrate their dead while the entire world, including this columnist, keeps on mourning the loss of innocent lives.
Is there something wrong with us, the silly mourners? Should we celebrate instead of mourning, like the kin of the dead do so proudly? Should Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu have cheered and chanted in Gaza instead of so humanely weeping along with the relatives of the dead and the injured?
No, I personally would prefer a human Mr. Davutoğlu instead of a foreign minister who shoots in the air in celebration of “victory.” And I would prefer a human Mr. Davutoğlu questioning the wisdom behind celebrating 150 martyrs, knowing, all the same, that my wish is sillier than the victory day celebrations in Gaza.
When I wrote in this column “Why Golda Meir was right,” (Aug. 23, 2011), I knew exactly why Israel’s fourth prime minister, or the “Mother of Israel,” was right. I still know why she was right when she said that peace in the Middle East would be possible only “when Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”