August 26, 2006
PalestineFreeVoice Aug 26 2006
And that's where Zionism resides, in a state of fantasy, paranoia, denial, schizophrenia, displacement, underlain by absolute power gone amuck.
Rationality and "Israeli" violence
"Israel's" goals in Palestine and Lebanon are inherently irrational. They, argues Issa Khalaf*, represent a distorted rationalisation of power and create the conditions for consequences that "Israel" cannot control
As we witness the unfolding spectacle of ferocious, indiscriminate violence, destruction, and brutality in Gaza and Lebanon, it's difficult to resist the conclusion that there is something terribly wrong with the "Israeli" state and society. It's as though all moral and psychological constraints and boundaries have been breached, deviancy normalised.
Not that state terrorism, deliberate aggression, extreme disproportionate force, and massive violations of international humanitarian law are newto the "Israeli" state: from 1948, the list is long, the evidence widely available. And anyway, in this case, disproportionality -- a concept actually inapplicable to the evil being rained on defenceless Lebanon or the genocide in Palestine -- implies that "Israel" is reacting to others' provocations and acts of aggression, as if the Palestine problem began with Hamas and Hizbullah's capture of "Israeli" soldiers, or as if only "Israel" has the right to use force to defend itself while its enemies do not, a concept apparently supported by the West, never mind the slavish idiocy of Bush administration pronouncements.
The "Israeli" self-image of rationality, self- confidence, restraint, pragmatism, and marshal moral superiority are delusions and myths, constructed to protect the "Israeli" psyche, manipulated by the state to keep alive the specter of existential terror in the "Israeli" public and to disguise the state's raison d'ŕtre, expansion and ethnic cleansing in Palestine, and maintain the deeply sociologically and institutionally entrenched "Israeli" military nature, increasingly blurring the lines between a civilian and military state
In the past five years, one can observe and feel a qualitative change for the worse in "Israeli" Jewish political psychosis, a turn to the acute. How does one explain the copiously routine, feral, violently racist and bigoted language of "Israeli" leaders, politicians, bureaucrats, settlers, rabbis, and even academics? The profoundly disturbing disregard for innocent "Arab" life, including children, among "Israeli" soldiers and the military? The polls that consistently, bizarrely reveal a majority of the "Israeli" Jewish (Zionist) citizens (settlers) repelled at living next to or befriending "Arabs"? The rising voices advocating "transfer" of "Israeli" Arabs (1948 Palestinians) or expulsion of the Palestinians? The crazy, unpredictable military rage and terrorism directed at Arab populations? The extremist, self-destructive right-wing drift of "Israeli" politics?
The Zionist state of "Israel" seems to be in moral, political, and psychiatric free fall. Unfortunately, its self-imploding, overweening arrogance and terrifyingly dangerous actions are supported by an equally militant government in Washington and a Western world intent on accommodating its violent delusions, not to mention the growing extremism among the organised American Jewish community in support of "Israel". This at a time when the principal Arab states and the Palestinians are seeking peace, stability and co-existence, the former's feebleness and inability to defend their people leaving the door open to Islamo-nationalist non-state actors and terrorists.
Those without power increasingly revert to rationality while those with power increasingly rationalise it.
Rational people assume that "Israel's" behaviour, its "strategy", can be apprehended through reason and political analysis, though its actions in Gaza and Lebanon, apparently meant to cause maximum death and destruction, defy rationality, including when measured against "Israel's" self-interest. Sure, its actions can be better understood in the context of Zionism's grand design for a Palestinian-free Jewish state in control of maximum territory and its attendant goal (in concert with the Bush administration) of destroying all indigenous resistance and populist, democratic opposition to "Israeli" military hegemony in the region.
In Lebanon, the apparent objective is to directly destroy Hizbullah, or turn the Lebanese against them, or weaken and politically fragment Lebanon through civil war, or install a collaborative Lebanese government.
"Israeli" actions are wildly, characteristically disproportionate to the challenges, excluding the peaceful, rational, measured use of instruments for resolving disputes or crises. This has been the story since before 1948. The fury against Lebanon, as in the reaction in Gaza, lacks sensibility, strategic coherence or even calculated utilitarian self-interest, obvious to everyone except those who run the state of "Israel", creating the conditions for consequences that "Israel" cannot control.
The fundamental "Israeli" goal in laying waste to, and socially and politically fragmenting, Palestine and Lebanon (now that Iraq has been taken care of) is to encourage Islamist extremism in the region and thereby gain Western support in the fight against Islamic terror. While an apparent strategic reason or rationale, it remains fundamentally self-defeating in the long run, contrary to a rational state's calculations for peace, stability, and security for its citizens. Its logic ultimately leads to continual wars and the eventual destruction of "Israel" itself.
Thus "Israel's" Palestine-Lebanon (and wider regional) goals are inherently irrational, representing a distorted rationalisation (or in the words of "Israeli" novelist David Grossman, "mutation") of power -- a distortion of rationality -- the application of which has become a mechanism for its own, nihilistic ends, overturning the modern Western assumption that rationality is universal and constant. This state of affairs obscures, renders fuzzy and indistinct, the domains between reality and fantasy.
And that's where Zionism resides, in states of fantasy, paranoia, denial, schizophrenia, displacement, underlain by absolute power gone amuck.
For a time it was fashionable to delineate decades of war, continual states of emergency and existential fear as causes of hate and violence towards Palestinians and Arabs generally. No doubt this is so.
But the problems lie deeper, with a "mutated" power wielded by a narcissistic people with a keen historical sense of both specialness and victimhood, now inheritors of a powerful, exclusionary nation-state, founded through colonial means, predicated on eradication of another nation.
"Israel" is an ethnic state, with an ethno-religious- nationalist-messianic ideology, based on group identity, not individual rights, whose institutionalised preference is for Jewish superiority, disallowing the possibility of equality for a systematically and sophisticatedly excluded and discriminated against Arab minority. This is far from the system of majority rule based on the principle of moral individual equality, protected through minority rights, rule of law, and civil rights generally found in Western democracies.
Michel Warschawski suggests that these contradictions are dealt with through, one, "denial" leading to schizophrenia (Ilan Pappe also refers to the psychological "mechanism of denial" permeating "Israeli" society), manifested by the racism and violence and ethnic cleansing and torture and collective punishment of Palestinians and by their general invisibility within "Israeli" society itself; and, two, through "personalised legislation", that is, the malleability, in the absence of a constitution, of easily changeable electoral and other laws in the absence of the concept of rights in "Israel".
Power and its corollary, violence, both physical and psychological, are institutionalised in "Israeli" state and society. The military, that is, the distorting effect of a culture of militaristic nationalism and the cosy and symbiotic relationship between military and political institutions and leadership of state, has been pointed to by Uri Avnery, Ran HaCohen, Pappe, and Warschawski.
A state cannot have apparently liberal minority rights while insisting on the separation of peoples and the institutionalised inferiority of one to the other, a condition similar to Jewish life in Russia of a century ago. Jewish schizophrenia has been transposed onto the Palestinians. Now "Israeli" Jews are white and European and civilised, keeping at bay genetically and culturally defective and shifty and violent dark skinned Arabs.
The pathological tension between absolute, unconstrained power, aggressiveness, defiance and victimhood, existential fear, and insecurity, produce the violence inherent in the "Israeli" state. On one level, the stubborn presence of the Palestinians challenges the denial mechanisms and leads to the drive to extirpate the cultural, political, and physical presence of the Other so as not to be reminded of oneself, one's humanity. "Israelis" are conscious of the fact that their state was created at the original and continuing expense of the Palestinians, through force, but react to this psychosis by denial and violence. Haim Hanegbi expresses the "Israeli" condition this way:
"I am not a psychologist, but I think that everyone who lives with the contradictions of Zionism condemns himself to protracted madness. It's impossible to live like this. It's impossible to live with such a tremendous wrong. It's impossible to live with such conflicting moral criteria. When I see not only the settlements and the occupation and the suppression, but now also the insane wall that the "Israelis" are trying to hide behind, I have to conclude that there is something very deep here in our attitude to the indigenous people of this land that drives us out of our minds.
"There is something gigantic here that doesn't allow us truly to recognise the Palestinians, that doesn't allow us to make peace with them. And that something has to do with the fact that even before the return of the land and the houses and the money, the settlers' first act of expiation towards the natives of this land must be to restore to them their dignity, their memory, their justness.
"But that is just what we are incapable of doing. Our past won't allow us to do it...Even if "Israel" surrounds itself with a fence and a moat and a wall, it won't help. Because... "Israel" as a Jewish state will not be able to exist." (Ari Shavit interview, in Haaretz, with Haim Hanegbi and Meron Benvenisti, 28 August, 2003).
It's as if there is no middle ground for Zionism, no doubt, no introspection: it's our existence or theirs. This psychopathology is made all the more palpable because of the intense moral contradictions: while it has accomplished impressive things, including "Jewish (Zionist) democracy", a place for some Jews to take refuge or to find pride, survival at all odds, and economic and technological development, "Israel" is a colonial settler society in origin as much as Zionism is also a variant of Jewish nationalism; it is both non-democratic in its exclusion of non-Jews and democratic for its (Zionist-) Jewish majority.
Regardless of how one sees it, the end result is, as "Israeli" observers themselves have commented, a barbarisation, moral decline or debasement, of "Israeli" society. How could it be otherwise, what with a Zionist ideology that, from its origin, treated the Palestinians with cruelty, disdain, violence, and loathing, traits common to all colonial-settler societies. And with the state since 1948 having so thoroughly indoctrinated "Israeli" society, through wars and manipulation of existential fears, occupation and relentlessly violent oppression. And with a racist educational system -- which portrays the "Arabs" as inferior, lazy, fatalistic, dirty, easily inflammable, violent and bloodthirsty -- and socialisation of superiority and separation and alienation of Jews from non-Jews, in cities and neighbourhoods, on Jewish owned lands and public domains.
The pathological nature of this indoctrination is illustrated by the cold-blooded murder of the 13-year-old schoolgirl, Iman Al-Hams, by a "Captain R", who was subsequently acquitted and promoted. After shooting her twice in the head, he walked away then turned around and emptied the entire magazine of his automatic rifle, 17 bullets, into her to "confirm the kill". The captain, on tape, "clarifies" why he killed Al-Hams: "This is commander. Anything that's mobile, that moves in the [security] zone, even if it's a three-year-old, needs to be killed."
Journalists and human rights organisations have documented countless cases of "Israelis" killing children, even for sports and game. Notice, here, the captain's language: Anything that's mobile...needs to be killed . Not anyone who is mobile. Palestinian children are like animals, like anything, like animals they are moving, like animals, not human, they, it, need(s) to be killed.
Captain R turns out to be a Druze, a powerful telling of the sick success of "Israeli" socialisation and indoctrination.
This Druze, historically the marginal outsider in mainstream Islamic society, internalised "Israel's" ethnic/racial pecking order -- its colonially inherited psychopathology in which the indigenous become animals -- therefore violently displacing his inferiority, as Mizrahi Jews do, onto the Palestinians. Dehumanising, hating and killing Palestinians is the ultimate, disturbed act of belonging and loyalty to a society accustomed to its influential members referring to Palestinians as beasts, two-legged animals, cockroaches and worms, unaware of their own degradation and dehumanisation in the process.
The possession of power fused with acute political and social psychosis, manifested by power's irrational application and self-dehumanising behaviour, betrays a deep-seated fear: while "Israel" possesses unequalled power and its political/military class was historically confident of its ability to militarily prevail against Arab armies, the country is unceasingly, silently, troubled by the possibility of one day being abandoned by the United States. Without its patron, its power is as nothing, not necessarily militarily, but emotionally and psychologically.
Awesome military might and the myth of invincibility is a tenuous psychological condition, masking "Israelis"' deepest existential fears that the millions they've dispossessed, killed, and continue to torment cannot ultimately be silenced and will come back to haunt them. But "Israel's" current elites seem unable to transcend their psychological paralysis: they resist abandoning, even self-critically reflecting on, their worn-out ideological, expansionist aspirations yet fervently desire acceptance of the surrounding peoples, to whom they relate only in the language and logic of absolute violence.
The "Israeli"/Zionist condition, unchanged, is a sure recipe for widespread regional annihilation.
* The writer has a PhD in political science and Middle East studies from Oxford University
"Israel" cluster bombed 170 sites in Lebanon
"Israel" dropped cluster bombs on at least 170 villages and other places in south Lebanon during its 34-day war with Hizbullah guerrillas, a senior United Nations de-mining official said yesterday.
The bomblets that failed to explode are now a deadly trap for civilians who stayed in the south or who fled and are now returning, some to find their homes or workplaces pounded to rubble by "Israeli" air strikes and artillery. The devices are known to have killed eight people and wounded at least 25, including several children, since a truce took hold on Aug. 14, said Tekimiti Gilbert, operations chief of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre in Lebanon.
"Up to now there are 170 confirmed cluster bomb strikes in south Lebanon," he said in the southern port of Tyre.
"It's a huge problem. There are obvious dangers with children, people, cars. People are tripping over these things." Gilbert said he had "no doubt" that "Israel" had deliberately hit built-up areas with cluster bombs, in violation of international law which states that such munitions must not be used in areas where there are civilians.
"These cluster bombs were dropped in the middle of villages," he said. "Israel" denies using the weapons illegally. Gilbert said six assessment teams had been finding 30 new cluster bomb sites a day, mostly south of the Litani river, about 20km from "Israel's" border. Large numbers had also been found further north, around Nabatiyeh and Hasbaya.
Gilbert said it could take "up to 12 months or more" to rid the south of the "Israeli" bomblets, some of which are designed to knock out tanks, others to kill or maim people over a wide area. Some are small, black and cylindrical, easy to overlook and to detonate. Others are round and can look like dusty rocks.
Gilbert said four clearance teams from Mines Advisory Group (MAG), a British non-governmental organisation, had already found and made safe more than 1,000 cluster bombs in the past six days--usually with controlled explosions.
Another 13 clearance teams from MAG and a British firm will start work soon, along with two from Sweden. Lebanese army teams are also in action, as are Hizbullah members, Gilbert said. "Hizbullah have picked up a large number of these bombs and put them into boxes and got them away from the children." "It's not the approved method, but the risk is such that if something is not done, people will die,"
Gilbert said. "You can't fault them, they are putting their lives at risk," he said, but added that while such unsystematic collection methods could clear the most visible cluster bombs, they could make it harder to find the less obvious ones.
Comparing the use of cluster bombs in other conflicts, Gilbert said that Iraq and Afghanistan were huge countries, so most bomblets had fallen in deserts or unoccupied areas. "But Lebanon is small and the south is even smaller. To have these cluster bombs dropped in such a small, confined space and in the numbers they have been used is lethal."
Raanan Dinur made the remarks during a tour of the north, which was pounded by more than 4,000 rockets fired by the occupation resistance party Hizbullah during "Israel's" 34-day day war in Lebanon, killing 41 "Israeli" settlers.