Saree Makdisi writes: It’s no wonder that this video clip went viral earlier this month. It shows a masked Israeli soldier throwing a sobbing Palestinian child to the ground, holding him in a headlock, squashing him, and then grappling with an assortment of women and girls as he tries — and ultimately fails — to wrest the terrified boy away from his mother.
Those few moments of footage revealed for all the world to see the sordid reality of Israel’s everyday war against the Palestinian people. An army that is equipped and ostensibly prepared to take on other armies — but that was last tested against a real army over four decades ago — continues to be unleashed against a largely defenseless civilian population. And it continues to fail abysmally at its assigned task of bringing that population under control and breaking its will to resist. Indeed, in political terms, the ending of the video is as instructive as the beginning: as the child is finally freed, the Israeli soldier, stripped of his coward’s facemask, is forced ignominiously to slink away, defeated — though not before sullenly and gratuitously flinging a parting stun-grenade into the faces of the child and his family, having, for all his brutality, accomplished precisely nothing.
The scene sums up on a small scale the past decades of Israeli violence, and it captures the lesson that the Israelis seem incapable of getting into their heads once and for all: that the sheer capacity for brute force — at which they admittedly excel—does not, in itself, translate into political gain, and can, indeed, backfire politically to produce the opposite result from what was intended: courage instead of fear; steadfastness instead of collapse; defiance instead of submission. [Continue reading…]