[Marxism] The IDF teaches lessons in "low-intensity" class struggle

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Tue Mar 23 05:11:07 MST 2004

This is a bit of a somber story, so if you want to be uplifted, best not to
read it.


According to a Ha'aretz report, major General Yiftah Ron-Tal (chief of IDF
ground forces), yesterday opened a seminar in Tel Aviv for army officers
from 35 countries. For three days, the international guests will listen to
briefings about scientific crowd control techniques: the real lessons of the
IDF experience in managing "low intensity conflict" (LIC) between Jews and

The assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin could of course transform a "low
intensity" into a "high intensity" conflict. Some guests must have wondered
whether the term "low intensity" is really pertinent, not just in the light
of what the Intifada might hold in store, but also because of the numbers of
deaths and wounded there already have been, since the start of the Intifada.
The number of "unarmed civilians killed" must now be around 2,000; the ratio
of Palestinians killed to Israelis killed is more than three to one.


Professor Avi Bleich, president of the Israeli Psychiatric Association, has
theorised that a "secondary circle" of people exposed to violence and
bereavement (the family and friends of victims) actually involves a third of
all Israelis. But in that case, the total psychic "exposure" of surviving
Palestinian residents in the occupied territories to violence and death must
be even greater. The World Bank noted that after two years of the Intifada,
the number of people living below the poverty line in the occupied
territories increased from a fifth to nearly two-thirds. People are fighting
on, regardless of the consequences, polarised to the extreme by American

Dr. Mohammed Haj-Yihye, from the School of Social Work at the Hebrew
University in Jerusalem, surveyed the new generation of Palestinian
youngsters and found attitudes had hardened. These youths, growing up in the
Intifada, are in truth hard as nails, and more dangerous than any rifle or
bomb. Haaretz suggests "They are the daily victory of terror and of the


Ha'aretz says some IDF officers apparently see the Yassin assassination as a
"transformative event" (sic.), equal in importance to Sharon's visit to the
Temple Mount in Jerusalem (which lit the tinder at the beginning of the
Intifada) and the Passover Seder massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya
(prompting the IDF's Operation "Protective Shield").

Some IDF General Staff officers said that the assassination policy "ought
not to stop with Yassin" (sic.). Their theory was apparently that a true
"shock effect" exists, only if every terrorist fears that he can and will be
targeted next, and for this effect, you need a total war, a total assault, a
massive, merciless show of force, to show everybody who is the boss aound
here, and that any and all funny ideas or resistance is useless, and that
they should just forget it.


Yet, Israeli security officials for their part also suspect that when Israel
starts killing foreign politicians with official blessings, then Israel's
opponents will similarly target Israelis and their supporters for
assasination overseas. Additionally, if Israel kills Palestinian government
officials, there seems to be no reason anymore why Palestinian militants
shouldn't kill Israeli politicians either, because in that case anything

And so, then, the gruesome, bloody spiral of violence increases the level of
terrorism through a war against terror, which creates more and more terror,
through more and more terror. Just because you happen to live somewhere well
away from Israel, will mean nothing at all anymore. The repercussions of
Bush's terror regime could ricochet anywhere in the world.


For his part, the former Senator George ("peacemaker") Mitchell, has been
appointed meantime as head of the board of directors for Disney Corporation.
Haartez's write Amir Oren quotes Mitchell as saying "Our loyalty is not to
the management. We will organize management and policy together, to create
maximum value for our stockholders, in the short term and the long term."

Applying this kind of metaphor, Oren suggests, you could say the argument is
that the Palestinian people "deserve better managers, to produce the most
value for them". So then, the asset holder has to use his ownership rights
to lever up both the performance management and a more productive labour
force. The logic then is, that if the managers are no good, heads must roll,
literally. There are acrrots, and then there are sticks.

But Amir Oren says "In the cost-benefit calculation of the assassination of
Yassin, there are certainly costs; but they should be measured against the
benefits, and the damage that would be done, by not going ahead in the


The whole trouble is, that the accounts are done differently by different
sides. Quite simply, one person's terrorist is another's person's liberator.
Ex-premier Menachem Begin, himself originally a member of the Irgun Zvai
Leumi, said "It all depends on who uses the term". Leah Rabin, Yitzhak
Rabin's widow was similarly under no illusions about this at all. She said,
"We [the Jews] used terrorism to establish our state. Why should we expect
the Palestinians to be any different?" (Reuters, Sep 11, 1997).

Ehud Barak took the argument to its conclusion some years ago: "If I were a
Palestinian, I'd also join a 'terror' group" (Ha'aretz, 3 June 1998).
Recently Barak has been involved in getting the teachers' pension fund in
Pennsylvania to invest $125 million in SCP Private Equity Partners, which
has bought Israeli company Tecnomatix Technologies, as well as a controlling
interest in Anglo-Israeli distance learning company Q Group PLC. SCP's board
includes five Israelis, who deny reports in the New York Times that SCP is
really investing in Israeli military technology.

The truth is that Bush's "war on terror" creates net income that can sustain
it. Lots of net income, new claims to wealth. But the whole "secret of
accumulation" here lies in the distribution of it, in who exactly gets what,
where. The whole trick is, that some must have that new net income and the
claim to it, and they must be able to watch the terror reports on TV for
theior portfolio management. The others can have the terror, and the TV
crews to film it.


The secret charm of neoconservative thinking is really that the creation of
net income requires a judicious application of terror - but of a precisely
defined magnitude, estimated with rational actor models miraculously
inspired by the Holy Spirit, a terror in other words which is sufficient to
spur accumulation, yet not so great as to hinder it (cf. Ernest Mandel,
chapter on permanent arms economy, in "Le Troisieme Age du Capitalisme").
After all, dead people cannot produce anything. The dispute is therefore
just about what level of terror is productive, and what level of terror
becomes unproductive.

Dr Mengele closely observed his victims personally, with detached scientific
scrutiny. But in today's "Holy Land laboratory" the show is run mainly from
a safe distance, by the international investors in the project. As for
myself, I'm hoping for some good news. How about you ? If things cannot get
any worse, they must get better in a post-Bushbaby generation.


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