Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Some thoughts on the Israel-Gaza war and its fallout in the Western world

Theories of causality are many, and none ever explain any given phenomenon fully, because everything causes everything in a universe where Jah is One. Some proponents of the Bully, Demonize and Subjugate campaign like to imagine that the end of political apatheid in South Africa was caused by sanctions and international boycotts. They then charicature Israel as similar to South Africa, and suggest it can be "transformed" (i.e erased) in similar fashion - through boycotts and sanctions.

However other readings of history would attribute to sanctions against SA only a very minor role. What ended political apartheid were the inherent contradictions of an untenable system, and the impossibility of running a capitalist economy while only utilising a tiny portion of the human resources of a country, and excluding most of its citizens from paricipation in the market as producers or consumers. In the same way sanctions on Israel will not prove transformative - on the contrary they will play into the hands of Israel's right, and harden Israeli intransigence. What could cause the implosion of Israel in its current form is not external. As with South Africa it is internal contradictions, and unresolved fault lines (of identity, vision and purpose) that eventually bring about an "end" (i.e transition) to name and form - be it of an individual or collective.

The quiet coercion of delegitimization and dehumanization: As a child growing up in Apartheid South Africa, in the 1970s, largely because of the attitudes I imbibed from my family, from around the age 11 or 12, if someone in the circles I moved in - neighbourhood kids, school, Hebrew school - ever used the word "kaffir" I would upbraid them, and at the least ask them not to use the word in my presence, because I did not want to be guilty of a crime of ommission or comission. IIt is the very same impulse now that leads me to resist the use of the word "Zionist" when it is flung about as some kind of pejorative term whose negative connotations both speaker and listener mutually agree to.


It seems to me in terms of Israel putting out the clear message that it will not accomodate or appease any Palestinian entity which has not made peace with the idea and the reality of the existence of the State of Israel as a territorially and economically viable nation state, it must balance this firm and unambiguous stance with the firm and unambiguous assurance to the Palestinians that when they demonstrate by deed they have shifted internally (for example changing their school curricula to reflect co-existence rather than a staged triumphalism, not trying to harness anti-Semitism as a "useful beast" that will further their cause....wild beasts are unpredictable and often turn on their "owners") Israel will not obstruct the creation of a territorially viable state which also (depending upon what the Palestinians and their backers do with it) has the potential to be economically viable. 

This means that Israeli schools need to show Judea and Samaria as “disputed territories” not as an integral and inalienable parts of the State of Israel (even if they are inalienable parts of the land of Israel). It makes it more difficult to request Palestinian maps reflect the reality of Israel if Israeli maps do not reflect the reality of a nascent Palestinian state. At the moment the stick is clear, but the carrot is not, and this is perhaps a crucial omission from Israeli foreign policy and the public discourse about the conflict.

Those “Jews” who are the poster boys/girls of the “radix malorum Israel est” brigade (the “Israel is the root of all evil” cult) generally do not participate in Jewish communal life in any of its manifestations, do not consciously contribute to Jewish thought or culture, and their children (if they have children) do not identify as being Jewish. These people only claim their Jewishness when they think it gives them a platform from which to attack, devalue, malign and misrepresent the things that the overwhelming majority of practising, affiliated Jews hold as dear and central to their communal identity.

To those who talk of "genocide" in Gaza: Don't debase the word "genocide" by flinging it about, just because you believe it will help you enroll others to your cause. Save it for real genocides, and hopefully people will not have grown inured to its weight because of overuse.

 Those who demonize Israel (as opposed to merely criticising Israeli policies) have forgotten that we have met the enemy and he is us: "When we allow ourselves to be persuaded by speech that seeks to draw evermore entrenched lines between one set of people and another, we tacitly accept apathetic prejudice as an acceptable means to justify our feelings of injustice. This usually results in the demonizing of otherwise well-meaning people, forcing them into positions they did not themselves wish for, and from which they can only be expected to fight back, sometimes vehemently. Listen to just about anyone react to the outbreak of violence in Arsal (Lebanon) [or Israel / Gaza], and you can hear this dynamic at play."

One of those historical ironies: Zionism, which was meant to end anti-Semitism, by 'normalising' the Jewish people so that they became a rooted localised people like "every other nation" instead has provided the excuse and pretext for 'new' and virulent forms of anti-Semitism, which in turn bolsters the Zionist narrative that Jews will never be unconditionally accepted outside of their homeland; (that Jews who think differently are not necessarily accepted in some parts and strata of Israeli society is another matter...) Jew hatred of the sort we are witnessing now turns disinterested Jews into potential candiates for aliya (going to Israel). So Zionism, rather than resolving anti-Semitism, now, in some ways, needs it. But if anti-Semitism is the price for Israel to grow and consolidate itself, it is a very hefty price indeed...

“If in the past year you didn’t CRY OUT when thousands of protesters were killed and injured by Turkey, Egypt and Libya, when more victims than ever were hanged by Iran, women and children in Afghanistan were bombed, whole communities were massacred in South Sudan, 1800 Palestinians were starved and murdered by Assad in Syria, hundreds in Pakistan were killed by jihadist terror attacks, 10,000 Iraqis were killed by terrorists, villagers were slaughtered in Nigeria, but you ONLY cry out for GAZA, then you are not pro HUMAN RIGHTS, you are only ANTI-ISRAEL.” — Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch, July 15, 2014

Syria's conflict has killed 170,000 people, including more than 9,000 children, according to the Observatory, and forced nearly half the country's population to flee their homes." Why are networks not showing images from this conflict every night? What makes the death of a 100 children in Gaza more newsworthy than 9000 in Syria? Is it because there is a pre-existing audience ready to thrill with rage and horror at "Israeli agression" while there is only indifference and apathy re fatalaties from civil wars and sectarian conflicts within the Arab/Iislamic world? Or is it because the Syrian conflict has been going on for two years, and the fickle media just gets bored and moves on to exacerbating conflict somewhere else? Or is it because its to dangerous to cover, so they cover conflicts which are relatively safe and easy to access?.

 Strange parallel reality: when I read some news sources they report not only Palestinian casualties, but also from the bomb shelters which Israelis have to run to several times a day. They report on the thousands of projectiles fired into Israel. They report on the foiled series of terror attacks from tunnels dug under Kibbutzim and villages in the South of Israel, attacks designed to massacre Israelis and in some cases , to take Israelis captive to use as "trading" cards. They report on the terror off residents of the South, traumatised by missile explosions and the sounds of digging (sometimes real / sometimes imagined) below their rooms. They report on Hamas videos calling Israeli and Jews "cockroaches"and urging their extermination. They point out that in most conflicts between Western style democracies and dictatorships casualties have been lopsided in favour of the democracies, because the democraceis tend to be both technologically more sophisticated (because, for example, of the free flow of information and the inclusion of women) and because democracies tend to invest in the protection of their citizens, rather than using them as canon fodder for PR "gains". And they point out that a score card of casualties has only been lovingly kept in the Israeli - Palestinian conflict...you won't easily find one for Desert Storm, or the Iran-Iraq war,or Xianjeng province in China, or for ISIS, which last week and this has killed more than 700 people. But when I go to the Sydney Morning Herald all of this has been vanished and the only representations allowed are Palestinian suffering....

1 comment:

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