Cautionary Tale

From the US State Department’s periodic safety advisory to travelers, Nov. 23, 2021:

Reconsider travel to Israel due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Israel due to terrorism and civil unrest.

No need to “exercise caution” due to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank or the Israeli siege of Gaza, apparently. Sporadic terrorism and vague hints of “civil unrest” are cause for concern, but a military occupation/siege enforced by M-16s, F-16s, phosphorus bombs, tear gas, armored vehicles, militarized bulldozers, and state-sponsored vigilantism is nothing to worry about.

Could the selectivity of the worries expressed by Foggy Bottom reflect the selective nature of its intended audience?

5 thoughts on “Cautionary Tale

    • I can see it now: “Beavis and Butt-Head Visit the Occupied Territories,” with videos by Guns N Roses, Judas Priest, Rammstein, et al. It’s always fascinated me that the video for “Welcome to the Jungle” features footage of the first intifada. I used to play Judas Priest’s “Dissident Aggressor” every time the Israeli military made an incursion into the West Bank town where I was staying: the song is about the Berlin Wall, but it perfectly fits the West Bank. And Rammstein’s “Mein Land” always seemed appropriate, as well.


  1. Although this song predates (1986, so just barely) the first Intifada, and most of the imagery in this video references either Vietnam or Latin America (with the flute music definitely being a nod to the latter), the line about picking up a brick or a stone always reminds me of the Intifada:

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    • If you’d said out loud in 1986 that we were “drifting toward war,” people would probably have laughed at you, despite the aid we were giving to the contras or the Afghan mujahidin. Five years later, we were at war in Kuwait.

      If you’d said out loud in 1991 that the war in Kuwait would drag us into decades of warfare in the Middle East, most people would still have laughed at you. Yet now that we’ve been through decades of war, and the wars are winding down somewhat, there’s nothing to laugh at.

      Despite all that, I still have no confidence that my nephews’ generation will refuse the opportunities for war that present themselves (my nephews are 8 and 14 years old). In the song, Jackson Browne says he wants to know the identities of the men in the shadows and ask them why. But at this point, we know their identities, and know that there’s no good reason why. It doesn’t seem to matter. If my nephews’ generation manages to get railroaded into the right kind of fear, they’ll end up supporting another few decades of war, however reluctantly. All it will take is one major attack on the US that you can tie to a foreign source.

      I was reading last night about some controversy in the local schools about a book called Gender Queer. (I think this local controversy is part of a national controversy over a whole set of similar books.) Parents were up in arms about the fact that Gender Queer was in their high school library, and that its presence there constituted “indoctrination.”

      These same schools have been flying the MIA/KIA flag since the 1970s, but no one regards that as indoctrination. The high school in Flemington, where I used to work, regularly used to invite cops and veteran soldiers to give propagandistic speeches/presentations about law enforcement and the glorification of the military. They openly call what they do “advocacy,” but its propagandistic quality doesn’t seem to register.

      The impetus for the State Department’s travel advisory is the killing of a South African-Israeli dual national who was enthusiastically serving in the Israeli military to prop up the apartheid regime in Hebron. His attacker is a “terrorist.” He is a “victim of terrorism.” His military service is being valorized. The attack on him is being described as nothing but anti-Semitism.

      News reports consistently report him as having served in the “Paratroopers Brigade.” In fact, he did apartheid duty in Hebron. From a newsletter I get from the Hebron Fund:

      Dear Irfan,

      We mourn the tragic loss of Eli Kay hy”d, who was murdered in the Old City of Jerusalem.

      You’ve probably read articles or heard stories about Eli, but what you may not know is that he served in Hebron as part of his IDF service. Did he enjoy the BBQs? Did he relax in the Soldier Rest Area? Although I don’t remember meeting him, we feel his loss profoundly in Hebron and across the nation.

      I can’t reproduce photos in comments, but there’s a photo of him in Hebron with this caption:

      Eli Kay hyd, shared this post after finishing his service in Hebron.
      May his memory be a blessing.
      Translation: There is nothing like Hebron…till next time

      He was right. There really is nothing like Hebron.


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