The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) selected two names for Israel's current military assault against an imprisoned Gaza population. This is a military that thinks seriously about naming its military assaults.
The first name given the second Gaza invasion in four years is "Pillar of Cloud." It was intended for use in Israeli media and was for Hebrew-speakers. The second name,"Pillar of Defense," was designed for the rest of us, those who are, presumably, less biblically informed.
The Tablet magazine, a U.S.-based, openly Jewish, Israeli-friendly, publication, explains that "Pillar of Cloud" comes from "a direct biblical allusion to the divine cloud which guided the Israelites through the desert and shielded them from those who might do them harm".
Exodus 14:19-20 is the biblical source:
"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."
From its pro-Israel perspective, The Tablet justified the use of the two terms with this rather supersillious explanation:
"For a campaign intended to halt the barrage of rockets currently raining down on southern Israel, 'Pillar of Cloud' is thus a particularly apt title. Just as the cloud protected the Israelites from Egyptian projectiles, so to does the IDF hope to protect Israel's citizens.
"However, a literal translation of a 'Pillar of Cloud' fails to convey the meaning of the biblical allusion to a lay audience. As such, the IDF chose 'Pillar of Defense' as the campaign's English designation, a conceptual translation which makes clear the intended meaning of the Hebrew."
Non-Hebrew speakers, all of whom the Tablet brands as belonging to a "lay audience," are not asked to think of the IDF as God's avatar, as are Hebrew language speakers.
By not using the Exodus reference to "Pillar of Cloud" outside of Israel, the IDF appears to have forgotten that there is a segment of the U.S. population that strongly supports Israel on religious grounds. I refer not to the U.S. Jewish voters who favored Obama over Netanyahu's candidate, Romney, by a 70% margin, but rather, to the self-described white born-again Christian evangelicals who would be thrilled to connect present-day Israel with the ancient Israelites.
The Huffington Post reports that white born-again Christian evangelicals chose Romney over Obama by a 70% to 29% margin; ironically, the same vote difference Jewish voters cast in favor of Obama. The times, they are a-changing.
Not much change is in evidence in Israel's conservative government, however, where leaders keep following the same old narrative to justify each new assault on its weakest Arab neighbor, the neighbor Israel has confined to an outdoor prison.
In both 2008 and now in 2012, the Gaza assault followed a U.S. presidential election and preceded the inauguration of the winner of that election. Israel's rationale for attacking Gaza in 2008 is exactly the same rationale Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offers as the reason for Israel's current "Pillar of Cloud" attack.
During the 2012 U.S. election campaign, Netanyahu tried unsuccessfully to bully candidate Barack Obama into pledging to follow Israel into an airstrike against Iran, which Netanyahu deemed a dangerous threat to Israel's survival.
Once he failed to lead Obama into joining his Iranian folly, Netanyahu, who knows full well his own IDF lacks the ability to go to war against any of Israel's strongest neighbors without U.S. backing, turned south to Gaza and discovered, what do you know, now it is Gaza which threatens constant rocket attacks against more than "a million Israelis every day."
When did this current Gaza invasion begin?