Think of how relieved you'd be to be captured in war by someone in a uniform and how frightened you'd be to be captured by someone in a mask.
Actually, I would be more relieved not to be captured. Israeli POWs in Syria were routinely tortued and even in the best case, they were generally neglected and maltreated. (see Pilots' Ward ). Some died in captivity.
But yes, there are going to be a lot more wars of guys in jeans versus guys in uniform, at least until the rules of war penalize the guys in jeans and masks for war crimes in the same way as they penalize the guys in uniform. The barbaric Hamas actions in Gaza are, in a way, history's revenge on the Fateh and PLO, movements who did more than anyone else to legitimize such "resistance" (terrorism) as an instrument of policy. They have sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind.
Behind the Masks
June 20, 2007
Every war has THE picture that captures its essence, and the Palestinian civil war in Gaza is no exception. My nominee would be the photograph of a Hamas fighter in Gaza, lounging in a senior Fatah official's office over which he has just taken control. The masked Hamas fighter in jeans is relaxing in an ornate chair, holding a rifle in one hand and speaking through the opening in his mask on a telephone in the other. It has the weird feel of a Gap ad for Halloween.
Oscar Wilde said: "Give a man a mask and he'll tell you the truth." So what truth does it tell us when fighters on both sides in this civil war (and in Iraq's) are wearing masks?
Putting on a mask is also a way to gain power and enhance masculinity. People in black masks are always more frightening not only physically, but because their sheer anonymity suggests that they answer to no one and no laws. In our society, it's usually only burglars, rapists or Ku Klux Klansmen who wear masks either to terrorize others or make it easier to break the law. The mask literally says: "I don't play by the rules. Be afraid, be very afraid."
Think of how relieved you'd be to be captured in war by someone in a uniform and how frightened you'd be to be captured by someone in a mask. But given the breakdown in society we see in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian areas, that may be a luxury. Wars against masked men and gangs whose true identities, agendas, rules and aspirations are never clear will be the norm.
"These masks are the uniforms of the new armies of the 21st century and the new kind of violence," which in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza "no longer distinguishes between war against the stranger and war against members of your own society," argued political theorist Yaron Ezrahi. "Just as this new violence doesn't have a front, it doesn't have a face. It doesn't have boundaries."
That is why these masks announce one more thing: These young men do not report to anyone above them. They have no ranks. No leader can ever be sure of their allegiance. Every masked man is a general, and every militia is a cross between a self-funded criminal gang and a modern army.
Get used to it. In today's environment, where the big divide is between the world of order and the world of disorder, you can expect to see a lot more confrontations between armies in uniforms and helmets and armies in blue jeans and masks.
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