Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 15, 2012

Kooks Fighting Each Other

The Israeli defense force changed the name of its attack on Gaza likely to somewhat hide its theological background.

The attack began with the assassination of Ahmed al-Jaabari, the leader of the military arm of Hamas, the al-Qassam brigade. This start, as usual during a ceasefire, makes it more unlikely that this war on Gaza will end soon. Al-Jaffari was somewhat Israel's subcontractor because he was "in charge of maintaining Israel's security in Gaza". Shortly before he was killed he had received the draft for a long term truce with Israel. He was probably the only one who could and would influence other militant factions in Gaza and thereby guarantee a ceasefire and peace. Killing him while negotiating a truce with is a sign of fanaticism and not of rational thought.

The Israeli operations name was first announced in Hebrew as "Pillar of Cloud" which the general sense is a "Shekhinah" - the visible symbol of the divine presence - which occurs several times in the Exodus, the saga in which the Israelite flee from Egypt. In this case there is a more specific interpretation:

As a couple representative verses from Exodus 14:20-21 state:

Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel.

The midrash on this section—which is cited by Rashi, the most famous Jewish biblical commentator, and taught in many Hebrew schools—elaborates:

They [the Egyptians] shot arrows and catapult stones at them, but the angel and cloud caught them.

About an hour after the "pillar of cloud" name was announced the IDF spokesperson on Twitter started to use a different name, "pillar of defense", as a hashtag in its English tweets. That name is now used in most "western" media.

The question is why? Maybe the IDF believes that most "westerners" would think the Isrelis are kooks for believing in fairytale of pillars of cloud as some divine defense. The IDF would be right about that:

So that's what a Pillar of Cloud is: A worldly instantiation of an all-powerful, vengeful God seeking to demonstrate the primacy of his chosen people, to guide them in their affairs, and to confound their enemies. And that's what the people who conceived and executed this wave of strikes against Hamas officials and Gazan civilians chose to call them. If anyone was worried about the increasing religious and ethnic fanaticism of the Israeli leadership, they should still be worried. Did Israel launch this attack because there was no other rational route to maintain its security? Or was it pursuing a broader agenda rooted in ancient mysticism?
Pillar of defense just sounds more reasonable to the secular ear and hides the nasty Israeli racism and fanaticism that is behind this attack.

The whole Exodus story of god coming as a pillar of cloud and, at night, a pillar of fire to lead the Jews out of Egypt is of course a myth. In reality it was the Satorinoi volcano eruption 1500 BC that let smoke and at night fire appear on the horizon.

Not to be outdone in kookiness the Al Qassam brigade named its missile fire against the Israelis "Operation Shale Stone" in reference to the Quran sura 105.4:

Have you not considered, [O Muhammad], how your Lord dealt with the companions of the elephant? Did He not make their plan into misguidance? And He sent against them birds in flocks, Striking them with stones of hard clay, And He made them like eaten straw.
The interpretation:
In this famous chapter, Allah, Most High, bequeathed the Ka’bah to the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and in presenting the story of the companions of the elephant, He prophesied his success, help and victory.

That is, whatever plans and preparations the enemies made and whatever practical stratagems they brought in order to demolish the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) entire mission, Allah, Most High, in order to annihilate them, made their very plans and efforts work against them. As such, as the birds destroyed the owner of the elephant, so too, this prophecy will endure till the Day of Resurrection. Whenever any owners of the elephant arise, in order to destroy them, Allah, Most High, always makes the necessary arrangements to demolish their efforts.

To use this sura for a fight against a Jewish army is historically mistaken. The "companions of the elephant" were Yemeni under the Christian king Abraha who in 570 AD, year that Muhammed was born, wanted to destroy the Kaabah in Mecca to get more pilgrims to his new build cathedral in Sana and was defeated without achieving his goal.

Using religious fairy tales as motivations or justification for wars is a guarantee that the fighting will be more brutal, savaging and deadly than needed while it hides the usually rather secular aims that those who start such wars in reality have. Both sides should do away with this nonsense.

The twitter streams of @IDFspokesperson and @AlqassamBrigade are documented on Storify.

Posted by b on November 15, 2012 at 14:02 UTC | Permalink


Israel does not want peace, it wants it all.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 15 2012 14:48 utc | 1

" Religion is the greatest purveyor of ignorance and hatred the world has ever known."

Forgot who's quote this is, but, sure is apt in today's world.

Posted by: ben | Nov 15 2012 14:54 utc | 2

"Killing him while negotiating a truce with is a sign of fanaticism and not of rational thought."
Rich is right: the fascists hate truces: they want war until Palestine is purged of its people. They fear the awakening of world opinion to the understanding that not to oppose this evil is to be complicit in it.

And so the holocaust of Palestinians continues, with the assistance of Obama and the millions who, so recently, endorsed his actions on their behalf at the ballot box.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 15 2012 15:46 utc | 3

The IDFspokesperson had its twitter account suspended for threatening violence. Youtube removed a video the IDF had put up but later reinstated it. Meanwhile the IDF manipulates its old tweets so that they carry new links to other videos than originally posted.

Posted by: b | Nov 15 2012 16:03 utc | 4

The whole IDF "PR" and its endless reiteration by the MSM is so tedious, especially when they blatantly ignore the actual timeline of events.

TIMELINE: Israel's Latest Escalation in Gaza

Posted by: Rod Brown | Nov 15 2012 16:34 utc | 5

The "Israelis" are running true to form, again.

Despite the evidence that both sides are revitalising ancient god-kings and other fables, the fact is that "Israelis" worship themselves and so their real G-d could be called The God of Small-minded Things (to borrow an expression coined by Arundhati Roy).

This cur-fest is just a Cast Lead redux.
... lots of bluster about attacking Iran then attack the only place on Earth the IOF's daydreamers are capable of going homicidal with minimal casualties - Gaza's women and children and their homes.

After Cast Lead one of "Israel's" hi-profile clowns assured the world that the attack on Gaza was to "send a message" to Iran. I can't remember which clown said it, but he or a substitute will say the same thing when this piece of habitual cowardice has killed enough women and children.
But it's a wasted message.
The Iranians have known for more than 60 years that "Israelis" are as weak as piss and twice as yellow.
And some things never change.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 15 2012 16:37 utc | 6

While we're on an historical bent, Joe Vialls (dec) used to claim that the Neocons superimposed the name 'Shock and Awe' on the US attack which destroyed Iraq as a little slice of "Shekhinah" irony.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 15 2012 16:58 utc | 7

A missile from Gaza just hit Tel Aviv. No casualties. But that is a new quality thanks, likely, to Iran. Tel Aviv has not been under threat before this. The people in Tel Aviv were so afraid and busy talking about it that the cellphone network broke down.

As the IDF and Israeli leaders are stupid and unable to retreat when they should they will repeat their earlier mistakes and will now go for a ground invasion in Gaza.

Posted by: b | Nov 15 2012 17:00 utc | 8


"The IDFspokesperson had its twitter account suspended for threatening violence. Youtube removed a video the IDF had put up but later reinstated it."

It sounds like the "zionist god" pressured the Twitter management to over ride suspension.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 15 2012 17:03 utc | 9

"As the IDF and Israeli leaders are stupid and unable to retreat when they should they will repeat their earlier mistakes and will now go for a ground invasion in Gaza."

They'll want revenge. It's a regional thing.

Posted by: dh | Nov 15 2012 17:08 utc | 10

I certainly agree that Israel and Netanyahu in particular are getting quite apocalyptic. That's what the Pillar of Cloud is all about: God is going to intervene to protect Israel.

Apocalypticism is in the blood, since Massada. They are always in fear that Massada will come again, even though that is quite absurd. Everybody knows that if Israel is ever defeated, Israelis will just pick up their other passport and depart. Not only to Brooklyn. Whenever there's a crisis, there's always a big wave of renewals of the "other passport".

Posted by: alexno | Nov 15 2012 17:41 utc | 11

Good point alexno. That may be the best indication of the attack on Iran.....lots of extra flights.

Posted by: dh | Nov 15 2012 18:18 utc | 12

The Zionist Zealots and their Sicarians will probably repeat the 70 AD Massada scenario by killing those Israelis who try to use their other passports, as they did back then.

Posted by: JohnE | Nov 15 2012 18:55 utc | 13

@13 One can imagine some heated altercations in the departure lounge.

Posted by: dh | Nov 15 2012 19:18 utc | 14

A thought just crossed my mind and i wonder how real it could be.

You need to ask yourself what is the best way to train your military than with live fire type war game and especially if you know you can easily deafeat the other side. I always suspected NATO countries are using Afghanistan to keep their troops battle hardened. Israel seems to take this route every few years to do (I think) the same thing. Start a war with someone weak and get your military trained at best conditions.
This one however may have other motives too, get your people ready for what might happen on a larger scale if there is an attack on Iran. Gazans can fire a few hundred relatively low powered rockets and cause some damage, however, if Iran and Hizballah fire their rockets, their aim would be far better and their kill is much higher. Are the Israeli leaders getting their civilians, "battle hardened" for what comes next ?

Posted by: ana souri | Nov 15 2012 19:41 utc | 15

ana souri, doubt it. they were faced with a ceasefire proposal they did not wish to accept. they shot the messenger. it is pure rage, they felt they had to prove they could unilaterally dictate the terms.

A rocket close to Tel Aviv is big news. Politically Netanyahu now has to invade Gaza.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 15 2012 19:54 utc | 16

Off the wall interpretation: "The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel."

Maybe it is a warning to Egypt.

Posted by: jonku | Nov 15 2012 20:00 utc | 17

On Iron Dome:

Israel National News 11th March 2012

The expensive systems were inaugurated last year amid controversy over its worth. A primitive Kassam rocket costs terrorists only a few hundred dollars while each Iron Dome anti-missile missile costs $50,000.

Obviously the Iron Dome is a prototype and highly expensive. Using a missile to shoot another missile out of the sky mid-flight has been compared to "shooting a bullet off course with another bullet". Each time Israel intercepts a Hamas missile they lose 50,000 dollars.

From the Guardian liveblog 2 hrs ago:

Hamas has fired 274 rockets at Israel, according to Israeli sources, which said 105 rockets had been intercepted by the Iron Dome program.

So already on Day 2 of the conflict Israel has spent 5.2 Million dollars using Iron Dome. Wonder how much more they will be willing to use it. Hamas could probably keep firing rockets for awhile. Of course Hezbollah in 2006 fired I think 3,000 rockets a day though might be wrong on that.

Of course this also indicates that just over 33% of Hamas missiles have been shot down before striking. Not a great record.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Nov 15 2012 20:27 utc | 18

@ 15.
They probably tell themselves and each other that killing civilians battle-hardens them. But all it does is get some blood on their fangs. If I remember correctly, during Cast Lead a slim majority of IOF deaths were the result of Yellow on Yellow friendly-fire (aka frenzy-fire) incidents - hardly the outcome desired/expected of cool headed, or battle-hardened, warriors.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 15 2012 20:55 utc | 19

ana #15

That is possible. However, the opposite may be true. Uri Avnery assigned the loss of the 2006 war in Lebanon by Israel to the IDF having become degraded due to the fact they had become an occupation force. Suddenly, when their victims turned out to be armed and concealed in well protected positions the troops froze in place or ran to the rear. Hezbollah, on the other hand, knew they were facing a deadly enemy and were psychologically prepared.

An Israeli assaults on Gaza will just be a turkey shoot of civilians -- the IDF will avoid the fortified positions where the Hamas militias are located much like they did in Cast Lead.

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 15 2012 21:36 utc | 20

@ Colm, re Iron Dome.
I trust you haven't ruled out the possibility that the "Israelis" are lying? Bibi started this and is now obliged to paint a smiley face on whatever happens next. There were reports in Haaretz after Cast Lead I that Iron Dome's reaction time was too long for short range rockets. This oversight was complicated by the fact that Iron Dome was based on radar to plot the course of incoming missiles and heat-seeking to intercept. So by the time Iron Dome had assessed the threat and launched an interceptor, the incoming missile was in flame-less free fall mode.

IF Iron Dome has been activated then it's possibly a sign that the rockets from Gaza are of sufficiently long range to pose a threat to targets deep in Jewish-Occupied Palestine; and thus in power mode for long enough for Iron Dome to do its threat assessment, triangulate, and launch.

Btw, the "Israelis" are notoriously good at forgetting about where their interceptors might land. During Iraq 2003 their interceptors missed every rocket Saddam fired into Israel and the spent interceptors (with warheads still armed) did a lot more damage than the incoming missiles.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 15 2012 21:53 utc | 21

Hi, I'm Rhysa - long time reader/lurker.

I wanted to add something about Iron Dome. French TV proudly showcased four small white clouds in a clear blue sky as a proof of some rocket interception made-in-IDF. So it seems it's on.

Also, what figures of The Guardian don't tell, is how much missiles were actually fired at these rockets. "105 rockets had been intercepted by the Iron Dome program" does not mean "105 missiles were fired". I highly doubt a 100% kill ration for such a somewhat experimental system.

The cost may very well be (far) higher.

Posted by: Rhysa | Nov 15 2012 22:30 utc | 22

Hamas says it fired 527 rockets at Israel in last two days (Haaretz)

Posted by: somebody | Nov 15 2012 23:22 utc | 23

I dont't always agree with Hamas' politics, and their bark has always been worse than their bite, but comparing them to the IDF is a little below the belt in my opinion. Not all references to and uses of faith are created equal.

N.B. 'Using this surah to fight against a jewish army' is neither here nor there. Surat-al-Fil is not some kind of triumphalist sectarian tract. It mentions neither christians, jews, pagans or muslims(who did not even exist at the time in question). It's purpose is to counsel hope when doing so would appear hopeless. A perfectly approriate message to cite in circumstances such as these, I would think.

Posted by: masoud | Nov 15 2012 23:43 utc | 24

It'll be interesting to see if a Good Ol' Thumpin' of Gaza becomes a permenant feature of all future Israeli election campaigns.

As in: as soon as the Israeli PM calls the election then the IDF can start callin' up the reserves, coz' the order is soon to come: Give Gaza Another Good Walloping, I've Got An Election To Win!!!

Posted by: Johnboy | Nov 16 2012 0:47 utc | 25

"So already on Day 2 of the conflict Israel has spent 5.2 Million dollars using Iron Dome"

What the fuck do they care???? Rest assured, he sluts in DC will re-imburse them.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Nov 16 2012 1:15 utc | 26

Thank goodness for some reporting on the reality of the Israeli-Gazan situation.

Tonight's MCM reporting made no mention of any truce/cease fire being negotiated. It's always Israel responding to Gazan homemade rockets (altho' possibly now they're not all homemade??).

Posted by: jawbone | Nov 16 2012 2:00 utc | 27

@ ana souri,

Q: Start a war with someone weak and get your military trained at best conditions.

R: Absolutely not. Using Palestinians for live target practicing does not turn your wo/men into battle hardened soldiers with a 1000-mile stare to boot. It gives you puppies who get their asses kicked back to the asylum by a few thousand determinant Lebanese militiamen, as happened back in 2006. Even the stealthy, invincible, untouchable Merkava IV got a good flogging [See this article].

The men and women in Iraq faced [and to some extent still do] and in Afghanistan still face way more treacherous ambushes, IEDs en insider killings than the IDF ever will encounter.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 16 2012 2:37 utc | 28

#18 RE: Israeli Iron Dome claims.

Doubtful the Israelis would be telling the truth here. Propaganda is all that usually comes out of them. In one of the earlier rocket attacks, I saw a report on Iron Dome interceptions that numbered below 10% of the Palestinian rockets launched. And as others have already said, the Israelis this time around probably launched more ID interceptors than the Palestinians launched rockets with the vast majority of these missing. Judging by the panic displayed in Israel over the Palestinian rockets, I'd say Iron Dome has been proven a failure.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 16 2012 2:38 utc | 29

I forgot to add that it's been reported that as soon as the Israelis detected incoming rockets towards Tel Aviv, Netanyahu and his staff ran to their special bunker. The Israeli military obviously has little real expectation that their Iron Dome is much of a protection, especially considering it would be very long odds on one of the Palestinian rockets being lucky enough to hit Netanyahu's regular offices.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 16 2012 2:44 utc | 30

@ Colm O' Toole,

Q: Each time Israel intercepts a Hamas missile they [Israel] lose 50,000 dollars.

R: That depends on who picks up the tab.

[roughly] 1/2 of the soldiers shit and pee in their pants and/or freeze the first time they encounter enemy fire. Tests with missiles are tests, and what happens when the real shit starts raining down is another thing that, logically, only can be tested when it happens. It's a bit like a suicide bomber who can only train once.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 16 2012 2:58 utc | 31

Excuse me while I vomit

"I imagine I am not the only one who feels the need to vomit (dictionary definition – “to throw up the contents of the stomach through the mouth”) when Israel’s Goebbels justifies the Zionist state’s ferocious and monstrously disproportionate attacks by air and sea on the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, the prison camp which is home to 1.5 million besieged and mainly impoverished Palestinians. The Israeli to whom I am referring is, of course, Australian-born Mark Regev, the prime minister’s spokesman, for which read spin doctor. The more I see and hear him in action, the more it seems to me that he makes Nazi Germany’s propaganda chief look like an amateur.

Compelling he certainly is but, as Sutherland indicated (I will be more explicit), only to Westerners and Americans in particular who have been conditioned for decades by Zionist propaganda and, as a consequence, know nothing or little worth knowing about the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel."

Posted by: вот так | Nov 16 2012 3:12 utc | 32

It'll be interesting to see if a Good Ol' Thumpin' of Gaza becomes a permenant feature of all future Israeli election campaigns.

could be, but not necessarily for the reasons one might think. ie does anyone even know netanyahu's running mate(s)? isn't it already a handsdown blockbuster for him?

but i can see the advantage of plummeting gaza regularly every 4 years wiping one 1% of the population. especially if children and women of child bearing age take a deadly hit. just out of curiosity, in the course of a lifetime, how might that impact the demographics of the region? for people battling a 'demographic nightmare' what better options might be available to create an illusion of equilibrium

r deside gt

Posted by: annie | Nov 16 2012 3:16 utc | 33

how embarrassing! ignore the base of #33 comment please.

Posted by: annie | Nov 16 2012 3:18 utc | 34

@ annie,

Hi, annie, hope you are well.

"Death by a Thousand Bombs." - Bibi Tzu, Wlong Dynasty.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 16 2012 3:25 utc | 35

Adding to what I posted in #29 &30, considering the number of Palestinian rockets fired so far, and the potential of they're being able to fire hundreds, maybe 1000's more, the Israelis could run out of ID interceptors. I don't know how many the Israelis stockpiled, but if they launch 2 or more interceptors to try and intercept each detected incoming Palestinian rocket (which I'm sure they do at the very least) they are going to need 1000's, maybe. Do they have that many? The latest Israeli propaganda is predominantly stating how they are going after launch sites now. Another indication of their inability to effectively intercept the Palestinian rockets in the air and their fear they may run out of interceptors before the Palestinians run out of rockets.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 16 2012 4:05 utc | 36

The photo in this article is an enduring reminder of what it means to be "Israeli".
(It's those cute little "Israeli" girls scribbling slogans and messages to their Lebanese counterparts
... on artillery shells).

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 16 2012 13:49 utc | 37

Some history on naming Operations, US:

snippet, quote:

"Shortly after word spread among key military leaders that President Bush had ordered the invasion of Panama, Lieutenant General Thomas Kelly, Operations Officer on the Joint Staff, received a call from General James Lindsay, Commander-in-Chief (CINC), Special Operations Command. His call did not concern some last-minute change in the invasion plan; rather, it concerned a seemingly insignificant detail of the operation: its name. "Do you want your grandchildren to say you were in Blue Spoon?" he asked. (... then) General Kelly discussed alternatives with his deputy for current operations, Brigadier General Joe Lopez."

US ops have always been sorta run by random lists of words. (Therefore Blue Spoon.)

other quote:

"There are 24 Defense Department entities, each of which is assigned ''a series of two-letter alphabetic sequences,'' Colonel Sieminski explains. For example, AG-AL, ES-EZ, JG-JL, QA-QF, SM-SR and UM-UR belong to the Atlantic Command. In order to name the invasion of Granada in 1983, the Atlantic Command started with the letters UR and came up with Urgent Fury. Once the name was generated, it was sent to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who sent it to the Defense Secretary for the ultimate decision.

But all this can be overridden if the naming seems important enough. And that seems to be happening more and more. Since 1989 U.S. military operations have been nicknamed with an eye toward shaping domestic and international perceptions, Colonel Sieminski notes."

The labels are a bastard melding of pretend secrecy, for in-group use, punchy propaganda, and other countries have followed that model.

Changing the name though has, afaik, never taken place.

Trivia when innocents are murdered, yes.

Posted by: Noirette | Nov 16 2012 16:47 utc | 38

The original name 'Operation Pillar of Cloud' reminds me of the infamous 'Operation Iraq Liberation'. Both reveal the hidden thoughts of the perpetrators.

Posted by: Yonatan | Nov 16 2012 23:46 utc | 39

being anywhere near an exploding artillary, bomb, rocket, missile is mind numbing like you cannot believe. i'll never forget the figure of that Viet Cong standing up with his AK aimed at the Jet coming in at him and me not far away; with 20mm exploding ammo and missiles yet to come the noise is so loud it's incomprehensible not to mention stressful ~ i can only hope with all my heart that Hamas takes out all of those stinking US made Jets.

Posted by: Darwin26 | Nov 17 2012 6:56 utc | 40

killing 1% every four years is most likely to result in more children and even larger population. As I understand it, it is a pretty well established demographical function.

Every murder is still murder, but when it comes to genocide I am more worried about what the next step becomes when starving the population and killing 1% every four years does not work.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Nov 17 2012 12:06 utc | 41

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