The Unbearable Slowness of War (III)
War means killings. Invariably, these demand a justification process, an ethics system sanctioning the unacceptable violence. This is when war is translated into slow talks conducted in dark classrooms while they await their next brutal attack on innocents.
The IDF calls these events “Siah Lohamim” (“Warrior Talks” in Hebrew). On February 13, 2009, IDF soldiers graduating from the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military preparatory course at Oranim Academic College in Tivon made statements regarding their participation in Operation Cast Lead. This was compiled in a document known as the Beit Oranim Transcript (download Beit Oranim Transcript – Hebrew, Beit Oranim Transcript – English, partial).
Many of the testimonies there are wilder than anything described in the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, usually referred to as the Goldstone Report, which defines the State of Israel as a terror inflicting organization.
The testimonies include a description by an infantry squad leader of an incident where an IDF sharpshooter mistakenly shot a Palestinian mother and her two children. “There was a house with a family inside …. We put them in a room. Later we left the house and another platoon entered it, and a few days after that there was an order to release the family. They had set up positions upstairs. There was a sniper position on the roof,” the soldier said.
“The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to the right. One mother and her two children didn’t understand and went to the left, but they forgot to tell the sharpshooter on the roof they had let them go and it was okay, and he should hold his fire and he … he did what he was supposed to, like he was following his orders.”
According to the squad leader: “The sharpshooter saw a woman and children approaching him, closer than the lines he was told no one should pass. He shot them straight away. In any case, what happened is that in the end he killed them.
“I don’t think he felt too bad about it, because after all, as far as he was concerned, he did his job according to the orders he was given. And the atmosphere in general, from what I understood from most of my men who I talked to … I don’t know how to describe it …. The lives of Palestinians, let’s say, is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers. So as far as they are concerned they can justify it that way,” he said.
Another squad leader from the same brigade told of an incident where the company commander ordered that an elderly Palestinian woman be shot and killed; she was walking on a road about 100 meters from a house the company had commandeered.
This is from soldiers who graduated from Israeli schools where it was taught that all Germans were guilty of the Nazi regime crimes because they had the moral obligation to refuse immoral orders. Somehow, Israel preaches one moral system, but implements a different one.
It is very tempting to speak of hypocrisy; yet circumstances hint at a different, and maybe scarier possibility. I know them; they truly believe what they are saying and doing. They do not apply moral judgment; they do not comprehend they are committing crimes.
To some extent, these soldiers seem to be a modern version of a golem, a brainless entity who serves man under controlled conditions, but is hostile to him and others. This is a well rooted term in Jewish mysticism.
Golem Crushes its Creator
Those following this website for a while know that accurate translations from Hebrew to English are difficult. One of the reasons is a completely different structure of the verbs system. For example, most Hebrew nouns are verbs in present tense. That adds a richness to their meaning which is absent in their English counterparts. This is what happens with the word “golem.”
Golem occurs once in the Bible in Psalm 139:16, where “golmi” (Hebrew nouns can be conjugated, “golmi” is related to “golem” in a way that cannot be easily translated into English) means “unshaped.”
However, the Hebrew noun also implies action; the creation of this shapeless form. It has an inherent mystic meaning which doesn’t exist in the English noun. The Mishna expanded the use, referring the term to an uncultivated person. The Talmud (Tractate Sanhedrin 38b), Adam was initially created as a golem when his dust was “kneaded into a shapeless husk.” From here on, the term evolved within the mystic circles of Judaism.
During the Middle Ages, passages from the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation) were studied as a means to attain the mystical ability to create and animate a golem. According to the mystics, all golems (the correct Hebrew plural would be “glamim,” I adopted “golems” for clarity) are created from mud, like Adam was.
They were a creation of those who were very holy and close to God. These would gain some of God’s wisdom and power. One of these powers was the creation of life. On the other hand, no matter how holy a person became, a being created by that person would be but a shadow of one created by God.
It was believed that golems could be activated by the ritualistic use of various letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. In the stories of the Golem of Chelm and the Golem of Prague, a golem was inscribed with Hebrew words that kept it animated. The word emet (“truth” in Hebrew) was written on a golem’s forehead.
The golem could be deactivated by removing the letter aleph in emet, thus changing the inscription from ‘truth’ to ‘death’ (“met” means “dead;” interestingly it was introduced into Hebrew from Persian). Legend and folklore suggest that golems could be activated by writing a specific series of letters on parchment and placing the paper in a golem’s mouth.
A golem is a mixed blessing. It is not intelligent. Thus, if commanded to perform a task, it will perform the instructions literally, displaying perfect obedience. In its earliest known modern form, the Golem of Chelm became enormous and uncooperative. In one version of this story, the rabbi had to resort to trickery to deactivate it, whereupon it crumbled upon its creator and crushed him.
IDF soldiers resemble this golem and they may crush under their crimes the State of Israel.
The Israeli Golem Magic Word
Unsurprisingly, the State of Israel wouldn’t use the word “truth” for activating its golems. The justification for its crimes cannot lie upon truth or righteousness.
Unexpectedly, the entire Israeli violence machine relies on a single short verse from the Book of Numbers 25:17 Vex the Midianites, and smite them: The following verse explains the reason for this violence: For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you….
The Talmud expanded this into a general ethic rule: “haba leorgeha, hashkem leorgo,” which can be literally translated as “he who comes to kill you, you wake up early to kill him.” In other words, “kill before you are killed.” In other words, it was expanded into allowing assassination (the original Hebrew text in Numbers, doesn’t mean killing). This assassination doesn’t demand any legal process. It is enough for you to feel someone is coming to kill you, in order for your killing him be lawful. An IDF soldier would justify his crime in court, “I felt like killing.”
This is Pharisaic manipulation at its best. They took a verse convenient to their goals and expanded its meaning beyond any rationale. Then, they rejected any other verse indicating something different. For example, while analyzing David’s sparing of King Saul’s life, the Talmud (in Masechet Brachot 58:1) wonders at this, claiming David was morally expected to kill Saul in self-defense.
Eventually, this evil interpretation became the foundation for ethical judgments by Israeli soldiers. The Beit Oranim Transcript mentioned above provides good examples of the extremes it leads to.
There are two main problems Israelis are blind to in respect to this. First, they do not acknowledge they may be wrong. If they did so, they would be much more careful before killing children, women, grannies and other obvious innocent persons with snipers. This is the result of their being indoctrinated as “chosen people.” In their eyes, chosen people act with the will of God, and thus are always right, no matter what.
The second point is more crucial, and was in the base of the teachings of Jesus. With such behavior they have created an endless loop of violence. In their entire history, Jews have never been able to live in peace with their neighbors. And unless they change their moral practices into Godly ones, they will never do so. A brainless Jewish golem is about to fall and crush the State of Israel.