Here at What if they were Muslim we question what would happen if a Jewish, Christian, Hindu, ______(insert religion of choice) were to commit a crime in the name of their faith. Would it be treated the same way if a Muslim committed the exact same crime? Would very little emphasis be put on the perpetrators religion? Would it be stressed that the act is an aberration, a misrepresentation of the religion? Would the religion be mentioned at all?
WITWM is not a site that opines on the “what if” scenario of your favorite Hollywood star being a Muslim. It has nothing to do with Angelina Jolie or Johnny Depp, etc. It has everything to do with the double standards in both media and pop culture that perpetuate the myth that Islam is inherently more violent than other religions or the root cause of misdeeds by Muslims.
(CNN) – On Sunday, a man shot and killed a 14-year-old boy and his grandfather at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and then drove to a nearby Jewish retirement community where he shot and killed a third person. Police arrested a suspect, Frazier Glenn Cross, who shouted “Heil Hitler” after he was taken into custody.
Now let’s do the thought experiment in which instead of shouting “Heil Hitler” after he was arrested, the suspect had shouted “Allahu Akbar.” Only two days before the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, this simple switch of words would surely have greatly increased the extent and type of coverage the incident received.
Yet the death toll in the shootings in Kansas is similar to that of last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, where three people were killed and the suspects later killed a police officer as they tried to evade capture. (Many more, of course, were also wounded in the Boston attacks; 16 men, women and children lost limbs.)
In fact, since 9/11 extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology. According to a count by the New America Foundation, right wing extremists have killed 34 people in the United States for political reasons since 9/11. (The total includes the latest shootings in Kansas, which are being classified as a hate crime).
“The human rights arm of the Washington-based Organization of American States recently launched a database about the trend, with killings in the region often running at several a day.
Yet like most other sources, it may only include a fraction of the real toll. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists warn that most homophobic murders in Latin America are never officially registered by local police or courts as such.
One example is Brazil. Rio de Janeiro might be famous for its drag queens and “travestis,” gender-bending sex workers, but growing up gay in much of the South American giant is no picnic, says Maria Guilhermina Cunha Salasario, the vice president of the Brazilian Association of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transsexuals.”* The Young Turks hosts Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian break it down.
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MOSCOW – An argument in southern Russia over philosopher Immanuel Kant, the author of “Critique of Pure Reason,” devolved into pure mayhem when one debater shot the other.
A police spokeswoman in Rostov-on Don, Viktoria Safarova, said two men in their 20s were discussing Kant as they stood in line to buy beer at a small store on Sunday. The discussion deteriorated into a fistfight and one participant pulled out a small nonlethal pistol and fired repeatedly.
The victim was hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening. Neither person was identified.
It was not clear which of Kant’s ideas may have triggered the violence.
This is ridiculous. To be exact, this is what an Apartheid state does: state-sanctioned racism. Imagine for one second how the media will react if Muslims kicked out Jews or Christians out of a certain area because they declared the area a “live-fire training zone”, the world will create a huge media event surrounding it.
Israeli soldiers evicted several hundred Bedouins from a village in the occupied West Bank on Monday after the army declared the area a live-fire training zone.
The residents of Wadi al-Maleh, a village mostly inhabited by shepherds in the arid area bordering Jordan, had almost all left their homes by an evening curfew and retreated to neighbouring villages, Aref Daraghmeh, a local leader told Reuters.
The displacement coincided with several demolitions of Arab properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which come as the United States is trying to revive stalled peace.
In January, villagers received a similar eviction order and left without resisting, only to return after 48 hours. Almost all of their 90 buildings, including shelters for their animals, were demolished in 2010, local rights groups said.
Israeli troops prevented outsiders, including journalists, from accessing the area saying it was a “closed military zone”. The military did not respond to a request for comment.
Wadi al-Maleh is located in “Area C,” a swath of land making up two-thirds of the West Bank under full Israeli control and where most Jewish settlements are located.
Half a million settlers live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory captured in the 1967 Middle East War which Palestinians want for a future state.
Israeli army firing zones comprise 18 percent of the West Bank, roughly the same size of “Area A,” the land including major cities and towns which is under full Palestinian control.
According to the U.N. Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 5,000 Palestinians in 38 herding communities live on army firing zones, along with several sprawling Jewish settlements and farms.
Besides al-Maleh, 12 Bedouin villages throughout the length of the Jordan Valley have received eviction orders since 1999, according to the Association for Human Rights in Israel.
The International Court of Justice and most governments deem Jewish settlements in the West Bank illegal. Israel disputes this and cites Biblical and historical links to the land.
Israeli authorities razed two family homes in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of al-Tur on Monday morning, displacing 18 Palestinians who failed to acquire elusive building permits, local officials said.
The army also demolished a well near a Palestinian refugee camp south of the city of Hebron and cleared an agricultural area of dozens of olive trees east of Bethlehem, according to Palestinian government media. Israeli officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
At least six people have been killed and 35 wounded in clashes in northern Burundi between police and a Catholic sect, an official has said. The violence broke out after police tried to block followers of 30-year-old Zebiya Ngendakumana from praying in Kayanza region, the official added. Ms Ngendakumana says she sees visions of the Virgin Mary on the 12th day of each month. The authorities are worried her sect could threaten public order. The sect, formed more than a year ago, has developed a following across the country and in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Kayanza Governor Athanase Mbonabuca said hundreds of sect members, some “armed with clubs and stones”, resisted police attempts to prevent them from meeting on a hilltop on Tuesday, the day Zebiya Ngendakumana said she would see her visions, AFP news agency reports. ‘Sanctuary destroyed’ “There were violent clashes. At least six people are dead and 35 wounded,” he is quoted as saying. All the dead are believed to be followers of Ms Ngendakumana, with four policemen seriously wounded, AFP reports. The sect has had a tense relationship with Burundi’s government since its formation, says Florentine Kwizera of the BBC’s Great Lakes Service. Last year, police destroyed a sanctuary of the sect in Kayanza – its stronghold – and its followers retaliated by breaking up a Sunday service at a local Catholic church, she says. Most Burundians are Catholic and the official church has distanced itself from the sect. The sect has also urged its followers to boycott the government’s community service programme. It is not clear why it is opposed to the programme, which sees residents of towns and cities engage in activities such as cleaning streets and refurbishing schools every Saturday.
A woman has been tortured and burned alive in Papua New Guinea after being accused of using sorcery to kill a young boy, local media report.
The woman, a mother aged 20 named as Kepari Leniata, was stripped, tied up and doused in petrol by the boy’s relatives in Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands, said the National newspaper.
She was then thrown onto a fire in front of hundreds of people.
Police and firefighters were unable to intervene, the paper said.
The Post Courier newspaper said they had been outnumbered by the crowd and chased away. Both newspapers published graphic photos of the incident on their front pages.
Provincial police commander Supt Kaiglo Ambane told the National that police were treating the case as murder and would arrest those responsible.
In parts of the Pacific nation deaths and mysterious illnesses are sometimes blamed on suspected sorcerers. Several reports have emerged in recent years of accused people, usually women, being killed.
In 2009, after a string of such killings, the chairman of PNG’s Constitutional Review and Law Reform Commission said defendants were using accusations of witchcraft as an excuse to kill people, and called for tougher legislation to tackle the issue.
Local Christian bishop David Piso told the National that sorcery-related killings were a growing problem, and urged the government “to come up with a law to stop such practice”.
The US embassy in the capital, Port Moresby, condemned the killing as a “brutal murder”, the AFP news agency reports, and evidence of “pervasive gender-based violence” in Papua New Guinea.
“There is no possible justification for this sort of violence. We hope that appropriate resources are devoted to identifying, prosecuting, and punishing those responsible for Ms Leniata’s murder.”
There is more descriptive report of this horrific act on TIME magazine’s website:
A woman accused of sorcery was tortured, burned and set on fire on Wednesday in Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea, reports Australia’s Courier Mail.
A member of Sikhs Against the EDL contacted us with the following press release in regards to a saddening flare up in violence over false rumors regarding the alleged rape of a teenage Sikh girl.
We add our voice to that of Sikhs Against the EDL and likewise appeal for calm. Only Islamophobes and bigots of all kinds benefit from such hostility.:
‘Sikhs Against the EDL’ appeal for calm after a Muslim-owned restaurant attacked by 40-strong Sikh mob.
It has been reported in the media that the police and faith leaders in Leicester met last Thursday night to find ways of easing tensions after the ransacking of a Muslim-owned restaurant by a 40-strong Sikh mob.
The attack took place at the Moghul Durbar restaurant, in East Park Road, Spinney Hills, last Monday, 14th Jan, night. Some workers and diners were injured when the mob piled into the restaurant smashing doors and windows and three men were reported to have been hospitalised. Police has said they were worried the incident – which they said was fuelled by false rumours – would lead to revenge attacks and escalate as both groups sought retaliation.
City police commander Chief Superintendent Rob Nixon has said that Monday’s attack was sparked by misinformation regarding the rape of a teenage Sikh girl. “We are aware of a number of rumours and misinformation which is circulating within the communities in Leicester,” he told the Leicester Mercury.
“As part of a separate investigation, officers are speaking with a girl and her family in relation to concerns her family have raised for her welfare. We are unable to comment further on this investigation. “Leicestershire Police urges members of the community not to listen to rumour or speculate about the incident,” he added further.
It has now been reported that police have arrested five men and a youth in relation to their investigation of an alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl after her family raised concerns.
However, since the incident at the restaurant a number of shops have also been attacked in the area, including a Sikh owned shop, which have led to further appeals by the police for calm. Six men have now also been charged over the restaurant attack.
Balwinder Singh Rana, spokesperson for ‘Sikhs Against the EDL’, said, “We add our voice to that of the police and urge people to keep calm. If they have any concerns then they should report to the police and not try to take the law into their own hands.”
He further added,” Any such conflict between members of the Sikh and Muslim communities would only play into the hands of the racists like the English Defence League (EDL). They would try to exploit the situation for their own purposes.
Last year they tried to hijack a Sikh protest outside the police station in Luton and they are always looking for opportunities to ‘divide & rule’. “But when the racists and fascists attack us they do not distinguish between Sikhs and Muslims – as in the case of Wisconsin massacre last year. Furthermore, we should learn from what is happening in Greece today where the racists of the Golden Dawn have been attacking all immigrants whether they are Sikh, Hindu, Muslim or anyone else.
“That’s why the ‘Sikhs Against the EDL’ supported a protest outside the Greek embassy in London on Saturday 19th Jan, called by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) in solidarity with a major anti-fascist demonstration in Athens the same day. We wanted to show solidarity with all immigrants in Greece and warn people here that with the continued economic crisis and austerity plans in this country too, soon the home grown racists and fascists could also turn on all of us, unless we all unite to oppose them.”
Tariq Aziz (centre, second row) attending a meeting about drones strikes in Waziristan, held in Islamabad, Pakistan oin 28 October 2011. Three days later, the 16 year old was reported killed by a drone-launched missile. Photograph: Pratap Chatterjee/BIJ
Numerous commentators have rightly lamented the difference in how these childrens’ deaths are perceived. What explains it?
By Glenn Greenwald (guardian.co.uk)
Over the last several days, numerous commentators have lamented the vastly different reactions in the US to the heinous shooting of children in Newtown, Connecticut as compared to the continuous killing of (far more) children and innocent adults by the US government in Pakistan and Yemen, among other places. The blogger Atrios this week succinctly observed:
“I do wish more people who manage to fully comprehend the broad trauma a mass shooting can have on our country would consider the consequences of a decade of war.”
“Most of the world’s media, which has rightly commemorated the children of Newtown, either ignores Obama’s murders or accepts the official version that all those killed are ‘militants’. The children of north-west Pakistan, it seems, are not like our children. They have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and flowers and teddy bears. They belong to the other: to the non-human world of bugs and grass and tissue.
“‘Are we,’ Obama asked on Sunday, ‘prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?’ It’s a valid question. He should apply it to the violence he is visiting on the children of Pakistan.”
Political philosophy professor Falguni Sheth similarly writes that “the shooting in Newtown, CT is but part and parcel of a culture of shooting children, shooting civilians, shooting innocent adults, that has been waged by the US government since September 12, 2001.” She adds:
“And let there be no mistake: many of ‘us’ have directly felt the impact of that culture: Which ‘us’? Yemeni parents, Pakistani uncles and aunts, Afghan grandparents and cousins, Somali brothers and sisters, Filipino cousins have experienced the impact of the culture of killing children. Families of children who live in countries that are routinely droned by the US [government]. Families of children whose villages are raided nightly in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Meanwhile, University of Michigan professor Juan Cole, at the peak of mourning over Newtown, simply urged: “Let’s also Remember the 178 children Killed by US Drones“. He detailed the various ways that children and other innocents have had their lives extinguished by President Obama’s policies, and then posted this powerful (and warning: graphic) one-and-a-half-minute video from a new documentary on drones by filmmaker Robert Greenwald (no relation):
Finally, the Yemeni blogger Noon Arabia posted a moving plea on Monday: “Our children’s blood is not cheaper than American blood and the pain of loosing [sic] them is just as devastating. Our children matter too, Mr. President! These tragedies ‘also’ must end and to end them ‘YOU’ must change!”
There’s just no denying that many of the same people understandably expressing such grief and horror over the children who were killed in Newtown steadfastly overlook, if not outright support, the equally violent killing of Yemeni and Pakistani children. Consider this irony: Monday was the three-year anniversary of President Obama’s cruise missile and cluster-bomb attack on al-Majala in Southern Yemen that ended the lives of 14 women and 21 children: one more child than was killed by the Newtown gunman. In the US, that mass slaughter received not even a small fraction of the attention commanded by Newtown, and prompted almost no objections (in predominantly Muslim nations, by contrast, it received ample attention and anger).
It is well worth asking what accounts for this radically different reaction to the killing of children and other innocents. Relatedly, why is the US media so devoted to covering in depth every last detail of the children killed in the Newtown attack, but so indifferent to the children killed by its own government?
To ask this question is not – repeat: is not – to equate the Newtown attack with US government attacks. There are, one should grant, obvious and important differences.
To begin with, it is a natural and probably universal human inclination to care more about violence that seems to threaten us personally than violence that does not. Every American parent sends their children to schools of the type attacked in Newtown and empathy with the victims is thus automatic. Few American parents fear having their children attacked by US drones, cruise missiles and cluster bombs in remote regions in Pakistan and Yemen, and empathy with those victims is thus easier to avoid, more difficult to establish.
One should strive to see the world and prioritize injustices free of pure self-interest – caring about grave abuses that are unlikely to affect us personally is a hallmark of a civilized person – but we are all constructed to regard imminent dangers to ourselves and our loved ones with greater urgency than those that appear more remote. Ignoble though it is, that’s just part of being human – though our capacity to liberate ourselves from pure self-interest means that it does not excuse this indifference.
Then there’s the issue of perceived justification. Nobody can offer, let alone embrace, any rationale for the Newtown assault: it was random, indiscriminate, senseless and deliberate slaughter of innocents. Those who support Obama’s continuous attacks, or flamboyantly display their tortured “ambivalence” as a means of avoiding criticizing him, can at least invoke a Cheneyite slogan along with a McVeigh-taught-military-term to pretend that there’s some purpose to these killings: We Have To Kill The Terrorists, and these dead kids are just Collateral Damage. This rationale is deeply dishonest, ignorant, jingoistic, propagandistic, and sociopathic, but its existence means one cannot equate it to the Newtown killing.
But there are nonetheless two key issues highlighted by the intense grief for the Newtown victims compared to the utter indifference to the victims of Obama’s militarism. The first is that it underscores how potent and effective the last decade’s anti-Muslim dehumanization campaign has been.
Every war – particularly protracted ones like the “War on Terror” – demands sustained dehumanization campaigns against the targets of the violence. Few populations will tolerate continuous killings if they have to confront the humanity of those who are being killed. The humanity of the victims must be hidden and denied. That’s the only way this constant extinguishing of life by their government can be justified or at least ignored. That was the key point made in the extraordinarily brave speech given by then-MSNBC reporter Ashleigh Banfield in 2003 after she returned from Iraq, before she was demoted and then fired: that US media coverage of US violence is designed to conceal the identity and fate of its victims.
The violence and rights abridgments of the Bush and Obama administrations have been applied almost exclusively to Muslims. It is, therefore, Muslims who have been systematically dehumanized. Americans virtually never hear about the Muslims killed by their government’s violence. They’re never profiled. The New York Times doesn’t put powerful graphics showing their names and ages on its front page. Their funerals are never covered. President Obama never delivers teary sermons about how these Muslim children “had their entire lives ahead of them – birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.” That’s what dehumanization is: their humanity is disappeared so that we don’t have to face it.
But this dehumanization is about more than simply hiding and thus denying the personhood of Muslim victims of US violence. It is worse than that: it is based on the implicit, and sometimes overtly stated, premise that Muslims generally, even those guilty of nothing, deserve what the US does to them, or are at least presumed to carry blame.
Just a few months ago, the New York Times reported that the Obama administration has re-defined the term “militant” to mean: “all military-age males in a strike zone” – the ultimate expression of the rancid dehumanizing view that Muslims are inherently guilty of being Terrorists unless proven otherwise. When Obama’s campaign surrogate and former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about the US killing by drone strike of 16-year-old American citizen Abdulrahman Awlaki two weeks after his father was killed, Gibbs unleashed one of the most repulsive statements heard in some time: that Abdulrahman should have “had a more responsible father”. Even when innocent Muslim teenagers are killed by US violence, it is their fault, and not the fault of the US and its leaders.
All of this has led to rhetoric and behavior that is nothing short of deranged when it comes to discussing the Muslim children and other innocents killed by US violence. I literally have never witnessed mockery over dead children like that which is spewed from some of Obama’s hard-core progressive supporters whenever I mention the child-victims of Obama’s drone attacks. Jokes like that are automatic. In this case at least, the fish rots from the head: recall President Obama’s jovial jokes at a glamorous media dinner about his use of drones to kill teeangers (sanctioned by the very same political faction that found Bush’s jokes about his militarism – delivered at the same media banquet several years earlier – so offensive). Just as is true of Gibbs’ deranged and callous rationale, jokes like that are possible only when you have denied the humanity of those who are killed. Would Newtown jokes be tolerated by anyone?
Dehumanization of Muslims is often overt, by necessity, in US military culture. The Guardian headline to Monbiot’s column refers to the term which Rolling Stones’ Michael Hastings reported is used for drone victims: “bug splat”. And consider this passage from an amazing story this week in Der Spiegel (but not, notably, in US media) on a US drone pilot, Brandon Bryant, who had to quit because he could no longer cope with the huge amount of civilian deaths he was witnessing and helping to cause:
“Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world. . . .
“[H]e remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. When he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser. The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact. . . .
“With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.
“Second zero was the moment in which Bryant’s digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.
“Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.
“‘Did we just kill a kid?’ he asked the man sitting next to him.
“‘Yeah, I guess that was a kid,’ the pilot replied.
“‘Was that a kid?’ they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.
“Then, someone they didn’t know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. ‘No. That was a dog,’ the person wrote.
“They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?”
Seeing Muslim children literally as dogs: few images more perfectly express the sustained dehumanization at the heart of US militarism and aggression over the last decade.
Citizens of a militaristic empire are inexorably trained to adopt the mentality of their armies: just listen to Good Progressive Obama defenders swagger around like they’re decorated, cigar-chomping combat veterans spouting phrases like “war is hell” and “collateral damage” to justify all of this. That is the anti-Muslim dehumanization campaign rearing its toxic head.
There’s one other issue highlighted by this disparate reaction: the question of agency and culpability. It’s easy to express rage over the Newtown shooting because so few of us bear any responsibility for it and – although we can take steps to minimize the impact and make similar attacks less likely – there is ultimately little we can do to stop psychotic individuals from snapping. Fury is easy because it’s easy to tell ourselves that the perpetrator – the shooter – has so little to do with us and our actions.
Exactly the opposite is true for the violence that continuously kills children and other innocent people in the Muslim world. Many of us empowered and cheer for the person responsible for that. US citizens pay for it, enable it, and now under Obama, most at the very least acquiesce to it if not support it. It’s always much more difficult to acknowledge the deaths that we play a role in causing than it is to protest those to which we believe we have no connection. That, too, is a vital factor explaining these differing reactions.
Please spare me the objection that the Newtown shooting should not be used to make a point about the ongoing killing of Muslim children and other innocents by the US. Over the last week, long-time gun control advocates have seized on this school shooting in an attempt to generate support for their political agenda, and they’re perfectly right to do so: when an event commands widespread political attention and engages human emotion, that is exactly when one should attempt to persuade one’s fellow citizens to recognize injustices they typically ignore. That is no more true for gun control than it is the piles of corpses the Obama administration continues to pile up for no good reason – leaving in their wake, all over the Muslim world, one Newtown-like grieving ritual after the next.
As Monbiot observed: “there can scarcely be a person on earth with access to the media who is untouched by the grief of the people” in Newtown. The exact opposite is true for the children and their families continuously killed in the Muslim world by the US government: huge numbers of people, particularly in the countries responsible, remain completely untouched by the grief that is caused in those places. That is by design – to ensure that opposition is muted – and it is brutally effective.
President Obama, the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, has just been bestowed by TIME Magazine with the equally prestigious and meaningful accolade of 2012 Person of the Year.
If you speak Hebrew, the Israeli Defense Forces would like you to refer to the wave of assassination strikes it commenced in Gaza today as “Pillar of Cloud,” a Biblical reference to the form God adopted in order to protect the Children of Israel and strike terror into the heart of Egyptians. If you speak English, it would prefer you to use the less fanatical “Pillar of Defense.”
Israel’s Hebrew-language newspapers are all calling the new operation “Pillar of Cloud” (or so Gawker’s resident Hebrew speaker and Israeli native, Neetzan Zimmerman, tells me.) And that’s how the name of the operation first propagated in the America press. Here is the IDF’s official Hebrew Twitter feed, in answer to a question about the operation’s name, answering “Pillar of Cloud” about 90 minutes ago (thanks again to Neetzan for the translation):
Here’s what “Pillar of Cloud” means: According to the Bible, during the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, God took the form of a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night, in order to light their way and to frighten the Egyptian army.
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.
By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
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?
English-speakers don’t really have to confront that question: According to the IDF’s English language blog, the operation is simply called “Pillar of Defense.” Much better.
The Israeli consulate did not respond to a phone message.
Update: An IDF spokesman emailed to say that “Operation Pillar of Defense” was not intended as a “direct, word-for-word” translation of “Pillar of Cloud.”
The name is not a direct, word-for-word translation. Like most translations, it is an attempt to convey the spirit of the name, rather than a simple Google Translate.
Regardless of the religious implications, the bible plays an important cultural role in Israel. I think that every example of Bible quotes you cited has defensive connotations, rather than “vengeful.”