Thinking Like a Tank

During a political discussion recently (a rare occurrence; I try to steer clear of them) one of the participants pulled out his ace: something that he had been told by a former senior officer in the Mossad. In most Israeli circles that would be the clincher; similar, I guess, to quoting the word of God around the table of the rebbe. There’s no arguing with the source of sources.

My reaction was that, davka because it came from a former senior Mossad officer, it had no value.I didn’t believe a word of it. My interlocutor regarded me with the benign tolerance that many of us display when confronted with the  immature self-assurance of our kids. They’re talking utter nonsense, of course, but they’re still young; life will teach them a thing or two.

I didn’t have the patience to explain myself much beyond that. I was busy reducing the level of a very good bottle of grappa at the time, and that seemed to be a far more worthwhile undertaking. For those of you who are interested, I have re-posted an article I wrote almost nine years ago that deals with the subject from a somewhat different angle.

There’s no doubt that a former senior Mossad officer has a lot more information than I do. The same goes for a former (or, even more so, current) senior Shabak officer, army general and just about every Knesset member, so-called academic, journalist and parent with a child in military intelligence. But having information is not the point; it’s having the capacity to process it and a context in which to assess and understand it. It’s good to know stuff, especially when the military censor and security-infatuated courts are determined that we shouldn’t know anything, but it’s not worth much without understanding.

A generation and a half of colonial occupation has reduced our capacity to think to that of a tank. That is especially true of those who make a career of the security services, but it holds for the rest of us as well, to a greater or lesser degree. Most of us are cowed into accepting the Zionist-security line by the sheer power of peer pressure and decades of slavish adherence to a single, hollow national concept. We self-lobotomize, because it’s what everyone else is doing, it’s what we’re told to do – and it makes life a lot easier. Why think when the government, senior Mossad officers and rabbis can think for us?

The problem, of course, is that they’re the least capable of innovative thought.

Creative thinking and true understanding are the product of exposure to ideas and interpretations. Having a single  idea throughout one’s life is not thinking; it’s constipation. Today’s Israel is scared of ideas and accepts only one interpretation: The troika of God, security and anti-semites (who are called terrorists, if they happen to be Arabs.) The more the Obamas of the world pressure us (and then barely) to come up with new ideas, the more we retreat into the bunker of the single concept. It’s where we feel most comfortable; in the bunker.

Where there are cracks in the national consensus – and Israeli institutions, to their credit, are not always as malleable as the colonial architects would like – the government hurries to fill them. The recent onslaught of anti-democratic and, in some cases, racist draft legislation is the counterpart of settlement construction in the occupied territories. The latter builds facts on the ground to forestall even the slightest chance of political compromise and the former strengthens our cognitive bunker, so we won’t even have the capacity to think of compromise. They are both necessary conditions for the creation of a truly brain-dead, colonial enterprise.

I don’t agree with the pundits who have argued that the latest round of neo-fascist legislation is a singular threat to Israeli democracy. Israel has democratic institutions,but those don’t automatically make it a democracy. Russia also has democratic institutions,but most of us understand that, at best, it’s a Putinocracy. Israeli democracy has always been a bit of a sham and the much-used term “Jewish democracy” is a contradiction in terms. Isn’t a democracy, by definition, government of, by and for all the people?

I’m not going to get into the failings of Israel’s so called democracy – the generals who go straight into politics, the coercive influence of the rabbis, the failure of the Supreme Court to uphold international law by withholding recognition of the occupation and so on. It’s a very long list and there are the remains of a bottle of grappa to take care of.  Suffice to say that citizens who cannot think for themselves, who long ago bought into one of the corrosive “isms” that have fucked up the world over the past century, are not capable of making reasoned decisions, And without rationality, there is no democracy.

We’ll have to settle for Zionist colonialism. At least it says what it is; it doesn’t lie. That should make President Sarkozy happy.

2 replies on “Thinking Like a Tank”

Roy dear,
There must be something wrong with me (not enough grappa?) because I can’t find anything to disagree with here, a profoundly unsatisfactory situation

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