Friday, 1 August 2014

After bombing civilian shelters, what comes next?

A respectable crowd snaked through midtown Manhattan today to denounce the slaughter in Gaza, an act that I consider the minimum moral duty of any sentient being. The majority were Arabs or Arab-Americans, many in Palestinian garb, and given that any ethnic group in New York can put together a sizeable number, it was a bit disappointing that there weren’t more unhyphenated Americans present. But from the honks and thumbs-up displayed by passers by and drivers, one could conclude that sympathy for the underdogs in this case is much more widespread than would be surmised from a viewing of the main channels or a reading of congressional debates.

It’s almost impossible to digest most of the coverage coming from that forsaken corner of the globe, the open-air prison camp that seems to form a permanent feature of the Israeli landscape. The Israeli leadership has no intention of making the place livable or permitting the population there a minimum subsistence, leading to the question of what on earth do they plan to do in the long-term future?

Here is one answer, quickly posted and then withdrawn when the reactions were judged inconvenient: genocide.
Comparisons with the appalling history of the last world war are facile and usually offensive, but there are certain parallels that should not be ignored. Hannah Arendt pointed out that the first key step leading to the Shoah was to declare Jews stateless because citizenship is the first requirement of all rights. People without a state are people with no rights. This alone should cause Israelis to shudder with horror at the situaiton they and their state have engineered.

We’re a long way off from systematic mass murder of the sort cooked up by the Nazi regime that embodies modern evil. But this event, occurring within the living memory of many people still with us, arose in the land of Beethoven and Goethe in the heart of European civilization. We deserve the curse of future generations if we do not recognize that such horrors remain within the realm of possibility and that only human agency—not turning our faces away in fatigue—could have or will put a stop to them.

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