In 2006 during a BBC interview, the Israeli opposition leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, answered questions whether the Israeli retaliatory aerial and artillery bombardments of Hezbollah targets in Lebanon were proportionate to the attacks on Israel. He said:
“No, you are not going to get away with it, because I am going to say: What would you do if London was rocketed with thousands of rockets? And because you say that happened fifty years ago – sixty years ago: Here is what you did: You turned half of Germany, no, all of Germany into rubble – and then you made the rubble bounce. And I do not falter you for it. You cannot fault Israel for the 800 Lebanese civilians who have tragically been killed, deliberately been put in harm’s way by Hezbollah.”
Today, Benjamin Netanyahu is the Prime Minister of Israel. His current strategy successfully seeks to achieve legitimacy in a historical reference to Allied bombings of Germany in WW2. Indeed, the philosophy of bombing an entire electorate into submission is not an Israeli invention. Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Hanoi – ‘Bouncing the Rubble’ is an invention conceived by Western democracies. Turning Gaza or Beirut into rubble – and then letting it bounce – strictly follows a recognized Western doctrine: Rather than achieving victory on the battle field, victory is won by waging war on populations. Israel cannot be faltered for employing such methods – at least not by the West.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has increased its estimate of those without homes in Gaza during the conflict in 2014 to 100,000 people. © Al-Jazeerah, America, Mohammed Salem / Reuters, 2014
Since WW2 the strategic tool of ‘Bouncing the Rubble’ has been repeatedly applied in several conflicts; however, technological advances make it possible to achieve a much higher level of sophistication than the carpet bombings of the past. Precision bombing, smart weapons, pin-point accuracy, conveyor-belt targeted killings have all become plausible strategic concepts in Western warfare. Employing a further layer of cyber-based technology, the termination of adversaries becomes anonymous, remote-controlled, and completely risk-free to the aggressor. It becomes justifiable to wage war globally in a manner that provides an acceptable narrative to the mind-set of Western electorates. Democratic expeditionary warfare and cyber-crusades develop ‘out of sight and out of mind’ with no immediate identifiable repercussions to daily life of voters in the West – except for the occasional lone gunman.
Territorial versus Virtual
In 2004 Osama Bin Laden said:
“All we have to do is to send two Mujahedin to the farthest East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qa’ida in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without achieving anything.”
In his last moments he must have realized that he was mistaken. His mindset was territorial. Western global domination is virtual. Any territory can be turned into rubble virtually anywhere in the world with a minimum of investment in manpower or risk.
There are no tangible military objectives in warfare against rubble. No territorial gains intended. The objective remains unavoidably ideologically political. The promise of no resistance from subdued rubble comes without the normal burden of graduated or proportionate response. Strategic annihilation of entire populations denies short-term reconciliation and carries the promise of long-term violent retribution.
The strategy of bouncing rubble will achieve victory in every battle, yet still lose the war. The philosophy of Osama Bin Laden carries an inescapable promise: Atrocities committed by one single individual will cause empires to self-combust.
Every Shot Fired is a Victory Won
In 2014, during the latest outbreak of hostilities, an anonymous voice from the rubble in Gaza says:
“Although there is lots of killing, injured and destruction, we all rejoice and celebrate every rocket we see in the sky going in the direction of our oppressors. We never imagined the feeling of keeping 3 million neighbours in their bunkers.”
Children look out of a destroyed Palestinian house in Shejaiya, Gaza City. © Al-Jazeerah, America, Mohammed Saber / EPA, 2014
Facing the technology of the West, crude missiles are manufactured in kitchens scattered among the rubble of the besieged: No advanced targeting systems; no online guidance systems monitored in real-time; no payload; no massive destructive power – just shots carrying the statement of torment and despair. While the children of Israel hide in their bunkers and win virtual victories in High Definition – it is the children of Gaza that move freely within their confines, winning the territorial war. In suicidal defiance, every shot fired becomes a victory.
Although rudimentary tactics and technology inflict comparatively miniscule damage or injury, the fundamental intent of homemade defiance remains spiritual, affecting the mind. Victories are won through seeing the adversary suffer. In Israel they have learned the lesson: you can virtually win all battles in cyberspace, but in terrestrial space your adversary will walk stealthily amongst you and win the war through attrition, denying you access to normal life, invoking a fear of your own shadow.
Palestinian men sit around a fire in their neighbourhood. © Al-Jazeerah, America, Mahmud Hams / AFP / Getty Images, 2014
You cannot build schools from the inside of a main battle tank. You do not win wars by giving children candy and toys after you turned their lives into knee-high rubble. Superior technology will indeed see you win all battles, but then you must hide. In bunkers, in holes, behind concrete walls and barbed wire. You will succumb to overkill surveillance, restrictions on movement, weak democratic control, xenophobia, fear, and dwindling freedom of speech. You are losing the war from within – fear and isolation as penitence.
At the receiving end – amongst the bouncing rubble in Gaza – there are no railways. Yet the children of Gaza are all too familiar with the sound of rapidly approaching heavy freight trains – eerily similar to the thunder of incoming missiles or heavy artillery. Anyone having survived the approaching wrath of Western techno-democracy will know the growing anguish that rises in one’s soul during the last few seconds before impact. These are the moments you talk to your God. Whether He decides to let you go or stay – there are no atheists where the rubble is bouncing. There is no democracy nor freedom of speech. Just His will.
I do not blame those who barefooted seek their God on Fridays. I do not falter those who praise their God with their heads covered on Saturdays. As a Christian, I address the cyber-crusaders who forgot to ask forgiveness from their God on Sundays, and hurl themselves into a rave around the sacred cow of democracy and freedom of speech. Those who forget that pointing a finger at someone, leaves three fingers pointing at yourself. Wars are not won by military power. Wars are won by promoting trust and dialogue. I challenge those who cowardly hide in holes or concrete bunkers and virtually bounce the rubble in remote parts of this world.
I falter the cyber-crusaders who install distrust and claim a right to mock their neighbour’s faith. Charlies who hide in armoured cars and demand protection from intelligence agencies and divisions of law enforcement officers. Those who claim that they are protecting their right to freedom of speech while enforcing investments into increased surveillance, loss of privacy and restrictions in democratic rights for the fear of defiant retribution.
I dare the Cyber-Crusaders, hiding safely out of harm’s way:
Go put yourselves at risk on the tracks in front of the oncoming freight trains. Live amongst the bouncing rubble – argue the wonders of democracy and principles of freedom of speech among the children living there.