“When one has nothing to lose, one becomes courageous. We are timid only when there is something we can still cling to.”
Carlos Castaneda

The Second Ring of Power

A War Israel Lost


“Yes … you demagogue … I an IDF soldier go around killing as a matter of habit? You mother fucker? You cunt, come to my base where I am a paramedic all day long and every day I treat a child from Nablus that got cut, or a woman in labor, people who were injured in car accidents … I treat more of them then doctors in their own hospitals because they prefer to come directly to the base, do you know why, you son of a bitch? Because they trust us with their lives more than they trsust the doctors in their own hospitals … so I am killing as a matter of habit!?”

This is my translation of this top comment that appeared at the top of the page for this you tube video. It is a controversial song by a veteran Israeli pop-artist. Below I have attempted to translate its lyrics:

A Matter of Habit

Learning to kill is a gradual thing
Its starts out small and then comes easier
Patrolling all night in the alleys of Nablus
Hey, what here is ours and what is yours?
At first just an excercise, the butt of a gun hits a door
Shocked kids, frightened family
Then comes the siege, its dangerous now
Death lurks around every corner
Weapon is ready my arm shakes
A stiff finger stuck to the trigger
My heart is excited, beating and scared
It knows that next time it will be easier
They are not a man, not a woman, they are just an object, only a shadow
Learning to kill is a matter of habit

Learning to fear is a gradual thing
Its starts out small and then comes easier
The news from the top trickles down to the street
There is no chance of living like this, the end is near
The terrifying prophecies in the voice of the crows
Shutter your windows and stay indoors
We are so few and they are so many
A small country surrounded by enemies
In their hearts only hate and evil and darkness
Learning to fear is a matter of habit

Learning cruelty is a gradual thing
Its starts out small and then comes easier
Every boy is a man hungry for victory
Hands behind your head, legs spread
Its a dangerous time, a terrifying time
Soldier pull it together, there is no virtue in compassion
Your cousin is an animal used to seeing blood
He doesn’t feel suffering, is no longer human
War dirty clothes, chaffing wounds, exhaustion, routine
It’s a short journey from stupid to evil
Israel is for us, only for us
Learning cruelty is a matter of habit

Child, child stop, child, child, come back
Come to me, to my forgiving heart, come to me my baby
So gloomy the skies, outside its already dark
Tin soldiers are still under the bed
Come home child, come home
home, home
Learning to love is a matter of softness
In delicate steps, in a cloud of gentleness
We will doubt, we will melt, we’ll be soft, we’ll be round
Learning to love is a matter of habit
Learning to be a human is a gradual thing
It begins at birth and then it comes easier

To be for a moment, only now, just today
On the other side of that road-block
But our heart is coarse, and our skin thick
Deaf and blind to the present
In wonder we watch as an angel falls
Being a human is a matter of habit


There is no doubt in my mind that the song is controversial. It’s a subject matter that invites almost anyone to form an uninformed opinion. It can comfortably be used and abused within Israel and against it. It was banned from a popular IDF radio station (link in Hebrew). The poet (not the performer) claims it was written after spending time with soldiers and hearing about their experiences. Though I’ve never been in the situations described in it, they feel authentic and true … as does the inevitable process of deterioration described in it.

To me the song speaks to the terrifying violence that exists in Israeli society. That violence is obvious in wars and Palestinian road-blocks. However that violence has penetrated deep into Israeli society. I believe that the violence has become a threat to Israeli society from within … more dangerous than its substantial external threats. During my last two years in Israel I hated travelling by train. The general air of aggression, noisiness and complete disregard to fellow-humans demanded of me a mode of self defence, so that it didn’t consume me.

The most dangerous thing about this social violence is that it goes unnoticed. It is indeed a social norm … a habit. It is met at every corner … at the supermarket, in driving, in government offices, in voices, in gestures, in body language. Scroll to the top of the page and re-read the comment left by the Israeli paramedic who treats Palestinians. It is overflowing with hate. It isn’t the only one … the majority of feedback (based on my impression, not mathematics) to it are negative and violent … that is the dominant Israeli voice.

With such violent undercurrents Israeli society has lost its ability to handle controversy, to debate, to step outside of emotional responses, to think clearly. All it can do, as a society, is fight … violently, frantically, childishly. And that is within itself … imagine what it will project towards external enemies. I have witnessed this deterioration over a period of 20 years. It is the war that Israel has already lost. The wounds from this war will take generations to heal (once healing has begun). The sad thing is that nobody has gained from this victory … it has made life worse for Israel and for its enemies. A wasteful existence.



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  • By When Society Attacks - iamronen on October 21, 2012 at 10:31 am

    […] Violence makes using weapons normative, having access to them makes it easy. […]

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