Israel, the “Neighborhood Bully”: Deconstructing the Lyrics of Bob Dylan in the Light of the Gaza Crisis

The ongoing assault conducted by the armed forces of the state of Israel on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza has, yet again, brought stark images to the world of the devastating capabilities of the awesome military machinery at the disposal of the 66-year old Jewish state.

As occurred in Lebanon back in 1982 and more recently in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead of 2009, Israel, while insisting that it is acting in justifiable self-defence and for the preservation of the safety of its citizens, has mounted a military response which has wrought quite devastating consequences.

Bombs and missiles unleashed from the ground, the skies and the sea have reigned in on Gaza destroying swathes of buildings, wiping out whole families and permanently scarring the overwhelmingly non-combatant victims.

Images of decapitated babies, horrendously deformed children, and the look of sheer terror in the eyes of a dishevelled and disconsolate civilian population have pervaded the media.

It is a situation unlike that of the past when Israel fought against the standing armies of surrounding nation states each of whom it routed in the wars of 1948, 1967 and in 1973.

The Palestinian population of Gaza, hemmed into a blockaded strip of land that is subject to the constant scrutiny of the Israeli security apparatus, are effectively a defenceless people in possession of no tanks, no jet aircraft or naval vessels.

They are themselves the refugees and the descendants of refugees who were forcibly removed or who fled from their homes at the time of the war which led to the creation of Israel.

The outrage felt by much of the world centres on what many consider to be the infliction of a disproportionate level of violence on the Palestinian population under the pretence that the measures are targeted and that any collateral damage -to use the cruel euphemism- is the fault of Hamas, which callously uses its own people as human shields.

John Kerry, the secretary of state of the United States and himself of Jewish origin, was heard to mutter off-camera that Israel was conducting what he termed “a hell of a pin-point operation”.

Nonetheless, the leaders of the United States, Britain and France have remained largely muted and have insisted that Israel reserves the right to act in self-defence against Hamas.

In the belief of the Israeli chiefs of state and the majority of its citizenry, Israel is justified, and is not, to utilise a useful term, a ‘neighbourhood bully’.

Read more