Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.—Jeremiah 1:14
In the first weekend of the current Israeli attack on Gaza,* the operation reached a crossroads. The IDF claims to have destroyed about a third of the Palestinian medium-range rockets, 500 rocket-launch pits and 2,000 rockets. To achieve a better result, IDF generals claim that the army must enter Gaza with ground forces.
On Thursday, the Security Cabinet met for seven hours on the topic. Today, Saturday 12, the same tired images of tanks and troops waiting to enter the Strip fill the media. No decisions were taken.
5 Rockets were fired from the Sinai to Israel. In the mayhem of the war, it matters little, especially since they did not cause damage.
IDF Tanks on Trucks in the way to Gaza
This quasi-pastoral image was an invitation to search for a new topic for today’s article. For a while, I had been considering to address urgent topics. The influence of Chalfi on Hebrew poetry was one of them; 34 years after his death it is about time. Readers were saved from this excruciating boredom by PSYWAR reports in the Hebrew media. Derror is here; derrorrists threaten us.
In the last two days, I commented twice on PSYWAR events of both sides. Hamas Rejects Israel’s “Knock on Roof” Policy exposed an Israeli attempt to manipulate people in Gaza by tempting them to leave their homes before they are hit by the IDF and to become informants of the IDF through free phone numbers. Considering the wild, but indirect, reactions that I received to the article from Israel, the article was more effective than a missile.
Yesterday, in Gaza Hits the Curse of Givat Amal, an unexpected hit of Hamas on the glue holding together Israeli society was described.
Additional reports claimed that denizens in Gaza received phone calls from the IDF warning of imminent attacks, in a PSYWAR attempt to create panic and mayhem.
Not every event gets an article. This weekend, residents of north Gaza received IDF phone messages requesting them to leave their homes ahead of a ground invasion. The messages were equally ignored by denizens and me, being relegated to this short paragraph.
This is how public events of this angle of the war look. After the first few reports, everything is almost the same; almost, because Hamas made major errors while addressing Israeli citizens.
This weekend, Hebrew reports on Palestinian PSYWAR towards Israel abounded, but not in the direction expected by the deliverers.
Since the beginning of the operation, Israelis reported receiving odd phone messages. One of them was a poll from the IDF; many people thought it was a trick of Hamas and reported it to the police.
Other messages mimicked the abovementioned IDF email. Below, two of them are reproduced.
One of them says “leave your house now,” in English. The second is in mixed Hebrew/English. The English reads “Last Warning!” The Hebrew says “Rockets in her way to your home.” Beyond the obvious errors that I tried to reflect in the translation, it uses a foreign word for “rocket.” Any Israeli receiving such a message knows for sure that it has been sent from a non-friendly force. Why should the IDF warn a Hebrew speaker in English?
Publishing this by Hebrew media was a warning to denizens not to fear the messages.
However, Palestinians have released several short videos in Hebrew containing messages to Israelis and their government. These are getting reproduced by Hebrew media for a reason unexpected by the producers.
Hebrew and Arabic are written from right to left; computers are not fully adapted to this. Some programs use nonstandard language codification; the same is true for certain websites. Save a Hebrew page of Settler Channel 7 in a non-Hebrew computer and reopen it. You will face the gibberish of Hebrew characters encoded for DOS, twenty years after Microsoft solved the page-codification disgrace.
One of the most common errors is that programs will accept the Hebrew keyboard definition but will write backwards, from left to right. In Bolivia, I face that daily. Most Hebrew pages that I save are displayed by the Spanish version of Windows with a backwards title: “eltit sdrawkcab.”
Hamas is publishing videos with backwards Hebrew and spelling errors that make it even more difficult to read. “Ledder to Israel Govirnment” written backwards is unlikely to be treated seriously, even by Netanyahu, who speaks a flawed Hebrew. He is a Republican in Jerusalem; an Englishman in New York.
Footer of Hamas video re-published by Yediot Ahronot. In apostrophes “Ledder to Israel Govirnment” written backwards.
The Hebrew spoken in the videos is pronounced with a heavy Arabic accent. As described in further detail in Jewish Settler Expels Palestinian Hebrew-TV Anchor from Israel, Hebrew and Arabic are similar, but in Gaza, people have few opportunities to overcome basic differences in pronunciation.
Bedouin citizens of Israel can volunteer to the IDF. Many of them do so, and most of the recruits become trackers in reconnaissance units; no other group performs this function. In Hebrew this job is called “gashash,” which roughly means “feeler,” like someone feeling his way in the dark.
Despite that, Bedouins were never fully integrated with society. The Prawer Law Affair last year was a sad reminder of that. The Israeli Government decided to confiscate vast amounts of land from the Bedouins, forcing them to settle in towns despite their nomadic style of life.
Palestinians can be found in all major Jewish towns; Bedouins not. Part of the problem is Jewish racism.
Active between 1963 and 2000, the leading comedians’ troupe in the country was called “HaGashash HaHiver,” “The Pale Tracker.” Bedouins disliked the inverse allusion to their skin color; Jews laughed to tears.
The winning of the Israel Prize by the group did not left room for doubts that the Israeli attitude was different. More often than not, the texts of the troupe are based on nonsense humor, like the described in From Mao Zedong to Beehive: Israeli Nihilism.
One of their acts depicts a Jewish Israeli approaching a barrier. He discovers that the two guards are Arabic speakers and a comedy of errors develops. Arabic lacks the sound “p,” unless taking special care its speakers pronounce “b.”
“The owner is playing “boker,” the guards say. “Boker?” the Jew asks. In Hebrew the word means “morning.” “Boker, klavim” the guards explain. This was even more confusing, since in Hebrew it means “morning, dogs.”
Boker was their pronunciation of “poker” while “klavim” was the closest approximation to “klafim,” which means “cards.” Arab speakers have no problem to pronounce “f,” but in Hebrew the word is written “klapim,” the pronunciation of the “pei” as “p” or “f” depends in its position in the word, and the guards ignore that. Israelis find such racism funny.
Israeli media is now making fun of the videos released by Hamas. In Hebrew, “pigu’im” is a strengthened form of “hits,” it is kept for what English speakers will call “terrorist attacks.” In the released videos it became “bigu’im,” which is not a word. Instead of being scared, the audience is laughing.
The same is trough for “dachpor,” a word composed of “push” and “dig,” used for “bulldozer,” and mentioned in a different video. There is no such thing as “dachbor,” as claimed by Hamas. “Which hole did he refer to?” Hebrew speakers will exclaim, recognizing the hole, “bor,” but not the non-existent “dach.”
The Pale Tracker has been revived.
A killing error of Hamas is its choice of messages. They are addressing a different culture and should adapt the message. One of the videos featuring a correct Hebrew broadcast a wrong message.
Footer of Hamas video re-published by Yediot Ahronot. “And we are preparing a new generation of warriors that sticks to death like the enemy sticks to life.”
“And we are preparing a new generation of warriors that sticks to death like the enemy sticks to life,” read the Hebrew subtitles.
How does a Hebrew thinker understand that? The best explanation is the title chosen by Yediot Ahronot: “A Hamasnik is Born.” “Hamasnik” makes reference to a Hamas member in mixed Arabic/Russian.
What has been born here is a popular version of PSYWAR. Neither Israel nor the West has a monopoly on that. BSYWAR 1.0 may sound funny to Hebrew speakers, but LAP (Hebrew acronym for PSYWAR) 2.0 will be good and scary, a real Prankenstein.
Mr. Roi Tov is one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media News.