Jester6: Attack on Israel and 9-1-1; It’s Much Worse

AFNN Citizen Writer, Jester6, notes: Many people are comparing what happened this weekend in Israel to 9/11.  The comparison is made in good faith, but it falls short. I don’t think many non-Israelis understand how deeply personal this is to the average Israeli.

[Disclosure: I am not an Israeli or Arab, but I work with many Israelis and Arabs, have traveled in the region, and have personal relationships with many Israelis and Arabs.  I am not a member of either tribe, but I am close enough to spend a lot of time in their tents.]

Those of us who are old enough to remember the images from 9/11 remember how they affected us psychologically.  But if we are honest with ourselves, most of us were moved by images filtered through a traditional media filter (social media and smartphones did not exist yet) by a remote event we had little direct connection to.

The images and videos that affected us were of faceless people we did not know, in a place we did not have a personal connection to, caused by people we only knew from their passport photos.  Unless you lived in the NYC/DC area or had a relationship with someone in the WTC or Pentagon on 9/11, you experienced it as a compelling television event.  Yet, it probably changed you.  It certainly changed enough Americans to alter the course of history.

If you are like me, the images of people jumping to their deaths and the sound of their bodies hitting the ground like bags of wet cement will haunt you forever.  I know it affected me in ways I feel to this day.

Now, try to remember how you felt when you watched the jumper videos. Imagine that you had a personal connection to the person jumping from the building, that the attack happened in a neighborhood that looks very similar to yours, and that the video included footage of the person who pushed them to their death gleefully celebrating.  If you have come this far, now try to wrap your head around the idea that the person celebrating the act lives a short drive from your home amongst thousands of other people who want you and everyone you love dead.

If you close your eyes and spend 30 seconds going through that thought exercise, you will get a small dose of what is happening to every Israeli today.

Israel is a small, close-knit country. It has a population and physical footprint similar to New Jersey.  Everyone is 2 or 3 degrees socially removed from everyone else. And because so many people spend the decades of their mandatory military service in the same reserve units, they build relationships with people at different social strata. An investment banker from Tel Aviv might have a personal relationship with a taxi driver from Sderot; a professor from Haifa might know a cement mason from a kibbutz.  Comparable relationships and social cohesion like that are very rare in the rest of the world.

As I write this, millions of Israelis are searching social media to find information on dead and missing they have a personal connection to. They are immersed in videos shared by friends showing gleeful Palestinians brutalizing Israelis whom they can personally relate to.  These are not videos produced by someone deep in a Russian or Ukrainian bot farm.  They come from people they know with images of people they are connected to. They cannot help but imagine the people they are looking for will suffer the same fate as those in the video.  This will affect them deeply in ways we have a hard time comprehending.

It’s no coincidence that Netanyahu has slow-walked an offer to form an Emergency Government from Benny Gantz. Gantz is more of a dove than Netanyahu.  Gantz was Minister of Defense under Netanyahu during Operation Cast Lead, the last invasion of Gaza in 2008. Netanyahu likely believes these videos will reshape Israeli politics in a way that is more aligned with his vision and less with the Israeli elite who despise him like the American elite hate Trump.

It’s also not a coincidence the Iranians, who a few days ago responded to reports they were behind the attack with a smile and a wink, are now actively trying to distance themselves from the attacks.

Politicians and spooks on all sides, whose stock and trade are manipulating public opinion, are likely stunned and perhaps a little afraid of what has been unleashed. Netanyahu knows an angry and wounded Israeli public could turn their ire on him, and the Israeli elite who control the media and institutions are certainly trying to make that happen.  But that’s just a sideshow.

Israel and the world are truly in uncharted territory this week. War has always been brutal, but that brutality has never been documented in such an intimate way.  Never in history has a population with such a powerful military been so psychologically wounded.

Typically, governments and the elite must spend extraordinary resources to mobilize and propagandize a population to support a war.   Even Hamas spends millions to motivate Palestinians in Gaza, arguably one of the most pro-war demographics on Earth, to support their wars.  The Israeli government and elite might soon find themselves trying to get a population to back down from war.

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