It’s tempting to think that Anonymous’s renewed attacks on Israel’s cyber-infrastructure will begin to make a difference in the ongoing conflict between the Jewish state’s efficient military machine and the walled-in, oppressed Palestinian Authority. I’d love to live in a world where annoying a group of people online long enough will cause them to give up killing each other. If that were the case, I’d just send a ton of e-cards and Facebook-event invites to every gang member in LA.
This is the thinking behind the United Nations’s sanctions on North Korea and the various boycotts levied against the South African apartheid government in the 1980s. No one likes getting a bunch of stupid Facebook notifications… or being incapable of feeding their population because of trade embargos. Seems totally logical to assume that a government would back down after facing this scenario.
Logic is not exactly the guiding principle behind the ruling Likud Party in Israel. In fact, I don’t think there’s a Hebrew word for “logic” anymore. The rationale behind this sort of civil disobedience assumes a society is willing to admit that what they are doing is wrong. In the years since the Second Intifada in the 2000s, Israel has only grown more obstinate, insular, and suspicious. The Israeli right wing is consolidating its power, and continuing to find new ways to defend itself against a relatively toothless enemy. Even after laying waste to 1,400 Palestinians and damaging countless homes in the most recent attacks on Gaza, Israel maintains a blockade that keeps any materials from being transported into the country for vital repairs.
Israel will not admit to being wrong and retreat from their occupied territories because they are pretty sure they’re on the side of righteousness. Granted, Likud suffered some setbacks in the most recent election, but they still retain a tenuous but legitimate control over the Knesset, and there’s no sign that Labor will challenge the xenophobic coalition of rightist parties any time soon. The rising stars of Israeli politics, Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett, are both staunchly right-wing agitators. In Bennett’s case, he is quoted in a New Yorker article saying “I will do everything in my power to make sure [the Palestinians] never get a state.” Naturally, Bennett leads the fifth-largest political party in the nation.
These are the circumstances under which Anonymous is running their hacking operations. Much like Israel, the Palestinian territories are separated between the far right (Hamas) and the moderate (Fatah), with nary a liberal with any power in sight. The concept of a left-wing, peace-loving party in the Palestinian Authority is as foreign and unlikely as it is in Israel.
Hamas fires rockets into Israel, so Israel blows up their rocket factories and smuggling tunnels, which then leads Hamas to fire more rockets. We do not live in a world where blowing someone up immediately leads them to say sorry. The stated goal of these cyberassaults is to “protect the rights of the Palestinian people who are threatened with silence as Israel has made attempts to shut down cell phone and internet service throughout Gaza.” Of course, in the Anonymous press release on the attack, they also mention trying to “disrupt and erase Israel from cyberspace. “ Apocalyptic rhetoric like this is great for nabbing headlines, but it’s exactly the sort of statement that fuels the expansion of right-wing authority over Israel.
The most obvious reason why Israelis continue electing the Likud Party, and smooth-talking strongmen like Benjamin Netanyahu, is because they’re afraid. Israelis with no financial or political stake in this interminable, absurd conflict just want to feel safe. The countries that gave themselves over to fascist imperialism before World War II did so hoping to bring economic and social stability to their chaotic lives. Keep screaming about wiping Israel off the map, either literally or figuratively, and it will only serve to embolden them to step up their senseless attacks. When dealing with a nation founded on victimhood, isn’t it counterintuitive to continue to allow them to paint themselves as such?
Of course, the same holds true for the Palestinians. If Israel insists upon poking them with a stick, they’ll keep kicking them in the shin. Clearly, what this vicious cycle of violence needs is a mysterious third party to wipe out people’s bank accounts and deface their websites. It doesn’t matter how spectacular your act of defiance is, it will likely just lead to yet more of the thing you hate so much. Someone get al Qaeda on the phone and ask them how successful murdering 3,000 people was in curbing American military aggression. Chances are, the response would be, “Not very.”
In a world where statistics show a 30 percent rise in anti-Semitic activity, it’s no wonder the paranoid in Israel continue to dictate policy. If one wants to do something about this conflict, perhaps it would be more advantageous to support liberal parties in Israel, either financially or verbally. Countries do not reverse course because someone attacks them, unless you advocate invading the country, dismantling their government, disbanding their military, and occupying them for almost a decade. I mean, that always works, right?
Israel is ostensibly still a democracy, and giving the left a legitimate voice is going to be far more successful than giving the country a mad case of military blue balls. At some point, they’ll whip that phallic-shaped missile out and fling it at your face. Temporarily disabling a website does nothing to fix the systemic disregard for an entire nation of people, and it certainly does nothing to alleviate the culture of fear that is omnipresent in Israeli politics.