Sunday 13 July 2014

Protective Edge or Strong Cliff

The name of the latest operation against Hamas rocket-fire from Gaza is an interesting and meaningful choice.  The Hebrew name for the operation, צוק איתן (tzuk eitan), literally means strong cliff.  One can understand the imagery associated with a cliff that is extremely strong.  One can easily imagine the Sate of Israel risking the threat of collapsing if the cliff does not continue to support it, and the Israel Defense Force (IDF) continuously reinforcing the strength of the cliff to support all that sits above it.  Despite having stood on the edge of the cliff for the past 66 years, the cliff stands as strong as ever.

The English name for the operation, probably chosen by spin doctors who will have given great consideration to how the world's media will interpret it, is "Protective Edge".  No matter which way one translates the "edge" in "protective edge", it seems to work out in a positive way in depicting the State of Israel in its current state of emergency. The "protective" seems to portray to the international community, that the operation is all about retaliation and protection, rather than being the aggressor.  While this is entirely accurate, it contrasts sharply against the impression of strength that is reflected in the Hebrew name.

How important is the name of  the operation?  Other than providing the press with a way of referring to the operation, does the name really serve any significant purpose?  Does it matter whether it is named something meaningful, or if we simply adopt a system of naming operations in alphabetical order in the same way as typhoons in the Atlantic are named?  The naming of an operation is a significant moment in the conflicts that Israel is constantly battling.  The moment an operation has a name, it is a clear indication to the general public and to the security services  that this operation is more than simply ongoing defensive actions that are part of our everyday lives.  The name becomes equally important.  We wish the name to reflect the tone and atmosphere that will be associated with the operation.   In the case of "protective edge", the names in Hebrew and in English are both significant to their respective audiences.  The message to the people of Israel is, that while we do have the risk of falling over the cliff, we also have the strength to avoid this.  A little stick, and a little carrot.  The message to the international community is that we will do all that we need to protect ourselves, and we will use our edge despite living on the edge.

All of these messages seem to have got through to those who are fighting this battle on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.  Our soldiers and our politicians understand that we are on the edge of the cliff.  This is how we have survived for the past 66 years, and how we are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.  We live under an existential threat which sees our neighbours continuously and unashamedly trying to destroy us, and wipe us from the map.  Our so-called peace partners in the Palestinian community, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (which currently forms part of Fatah), still have as part of their constitution the objective of destroying the State of Israel.  It is clear that, if we were not to defend ourselves in the strong and determined way that we do, we would not have a state.  In the defense of our country, we are strong and will continue to be strong.  Our young men and women who are drafted to the military in the defense of this country, do an amazing job with a smile and with an understanding of the importance of their role that belies their age. 

We use our edge in every possible way.  In this operation, the Iron Dome has proved to be our edge.  The technology associated with this system is ahead of its time, and has shown itself to be highly effective in protecting the lives of innocent people.  As of the time of writing this article, more than 100 incoming missiles have been intercepted by Iron Dome.  Failure to intercept these rockets could have resulted in hundreds, or even thousands, of death and injuries.

Our edge has also been in the way that we approach the battle.  Hamas insists upon launching missiles, which have no accurate guidance method, right into the centre of the most populated areas of Israel.  By contrast, Israel has been sending pamphlets to the residents of Gaza warning of impending attacks.  Due to the fact that Hamas continues to insist upon conducting its warfare from residential areas, the Israeli army has no choice but to target these areas in an attempt to quell the rocket fire.  Telephone calls and SMS messages are sent to the residents of particular apartment buildings by the IDF to warn them to evacuate the area.  Hamas has advised these residents to remain in their buildings, and to even climb onto the roofs in the knowledge that Israeli pilots are likely to abort releasing missiles on buildings which are inhabited by innocent civilians.

Our edge is also represented in the way that we support our boys and girls in battle.  Our soldiers on operational duty have told of residents bringing food and other suppliers to their units in the field, in order to keep them well fed.  It is also a way for these residents to show appreciation and solidarity with those on operational duty.  No food is too much to make, and no distance is too far to travel to bring the smell and taste of home-made food to battle stations.  With many fathers having been called to reserve duty to serve in this operation, systems at home have moved into overdrive in order to assist wives and children left at home.  The country is doing all that it can to assist and support those who are on active duty at this critical time.

They say that the strength of character of people is brought out during extreme circumstances.  The strength and character of the Israelis who are under fire during this operation, has truly surpassed all expectations.  This is the real strength that is referred to in the Hebrew version of the name.  We are enormously proud of the way in which our army and our people have responded to this crisis.  It certainly bodes well for this operation, and for the future.  The names in Hebrew and Engish both fit well, and perhaps even drive us forward.

Image from

1 comment:

Robert Lane said...