Part 1 here
‘But I didn’t tell you this beautiful story to show you what it means to me or how it relates to my life; I told it to point out that it’s forgotten,’ said Blue……’Once upon a time, people knew it by heart—from Tabriz to Istanbul, from Bosnia to Trabzon—and when they recalled it they found the meaning in their lives.’ —Orhan Pamuk, Snow
‘Then think what would happen to them if they were released from their bonds and cured of their delusions.’ —Socrates in Plato’s Republic
Man is wolf to man: self-flattery! Wolves conclude their quarrels.
Apropos of crying wolves, surely the Israelis have a few suggestions for securing the Brussels metro. And just what’re the odds of getting disemboweled on Hebrew public transit? Apples and oranges, pal. How dare you claim to know Israel’s suffering? At least now, perhaps, Europeans will finally realize that if you’ve seen one terrorist, you’ve seen them all. In the words of Theodore Herzl, ‘If you repeat a lie often enough, it is no dream.’
And repeated often enough it doubtless has been, though the lie is not what’s written, but what’s read. Have you ever walked backwards into a cave, blindfolded? A tabloid Golem straight out of Misfits lyrics and Bourne films is grinding to dust mosaics, pottery shards and catacombs, the last evidence of the monotheistic epoch. Before long, the death of God won’t even be a rumor.
But for the time being, the world’s dirty bomb preparedness capital and ham-handed jihad early-detection consultancy persists in carrying out a police action whose age and meaning are unknown, a contest of demented wits, the viscera of scripture, a final flash of recollection on the road to oblivion. It should be prolonged indefinitely.
Above ground, in the neon lights and traffic jams, violence is a “public health issue.” Feelings are a “public health issue”—they should be treated with mass surveillance. Intransigent monotheism is all that stands between the meadow and the paving crew, and when swords are finally beaten to plowshares all that remains will be to clear the slums and make way for Olympic village.
There’s a story about Yitzhak Rabin, that during his initial tenure as prime minister (in the late 1970s), the possibility was being explored of courting Lebanese allies to counter the PLO who, at that time, were based in Lebanon. Arrangements were made for the godfather of the Maronite Phalange to meet the Israeli high command aboard a submarine. When his yacht arrived and he was brought onboard, he spent the entirety of the forty-five minute meeting huffing and puffing about how it was beneath the dignity of an Arab to collude with Israelis. Rabin weathered this abuse magnanimously, and 11,000 casualties later Israel was forced out of Beirut by the first Reagan administration, within a hair’s breadth of Arafat’s jugular. If Begin had been premier that early, the alliance would never have been struck, and if Rabin had been re-elected rather than losing his seat to Begin it never would’ve resulted in such loss of life as it did. But there’s cool-headedness and there’s soft-headedness. If the European far-right was prepared to do to its prime ministers what the Israeli right eventually did to Rabin, there’d be no pederast mohammedan orcs prowling Munich, Milan and Manchester.
Like Rhodesians and former Soviets, Israelis’ attunedness to the dogshit facts of life once lent them an edgy mystique in an affluent world, one that now exceeds cartoonishness. The question is not whether to act, but wherefore. Like an obsessed plaintiff oblivious to counter arguments, Israeli concerns long ago ceased concerning others, and woe betide he who forgets that where there is concession, there is strength.
Not long ago, a pair of young Arab men from a West Bank town slipped into Israel armed with knives and pistols, boarded a Jerusalem bus, and began attacking passengers indiscriminately. In addition to the attackers (shot by security forces), three Israelis were killed, among them a child and an octogenarian pensioner, who died of bleeding from lacerations to (among other places) the face and neck, “for men forget more easily the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.” Perhaps future incidents of this kind could be avoided if only Levantine schoolchildren were made to memorize the lyrics of “The Gambler” in appropriate translation?
But, “then also pretexts for seizing property are never wanting, and one who begins to live by rapine will always find some reason for taking the goods of others.” So as part of its policy of collective punishment, the Occupation determined to demolish the home of one attacker’s elderly parents. (See also, Aesop re: precautions ex post facto.)
The father, standing in the rubble of his former home, then gave an interview to a CIA, er…. American news agency. He said that his son was a perfectly ordinary youth, that the acts his son committed on that bus were a natural, equitable response to the humiliating rigors of the Occupation, and that this policy whereby his home had been demolished would only provoke further attacks (from other perfectly ordinary youths, I suppose. “It belongs to human nature to hate those you have injured.”) Well I’m sorry, sir: unless you have more sons, you can’t threaten anyone with acts that have already been committed.
I once stood guard on a Hebron rooftop when my commanding officer, making his rounds, came by to check on me. As we gazed out over the town, he pointed out the shoddy construction materials and various rubble heaps that passed for structures, remarking to the effect that our Arab adversaries are primitives—just look at how they live; clearly people of that caliber cannot be reasoned with. Well, I no more believe that Israelis ought to try and reason with Palestinians than I would advise the Palestinians to try and reason with the Israelis. I don’t give a shit (God grant me the serenity….) What I do dislike, however, is cant, and I replied to the officer that maybe these Arabs simply lack access to the kinds of construction materials that we have over in Tel Aviv. This elicited a look as if I’d just committed treason. I got in trouble on several educational excursions for appealing to Occam in this manner. Though I’ll admit in retrospect that the unseemly high incidence of spousal ass-rape and literal slave trafficking in Arab cities where construction materials are abundant would’ve been a devastating rejoinder to my argument, none such was forthcoming, and an army where exercising one’s brain is taken for want of esprit de corps is going to find its returns diminishing, regardless of how piss-poor a recruit (and thinker) yours truly may’ve been.
Take, for example, the recent, much publicized shooting of an incapacitated Palestinian would-be assailant by an on-scene IDF medic; a clear-cut act of second-degree murder and a pointless one, besides (the “victim” would’ve expired before he reached the ER.) But these things happen, and should no more be taken as condemnation of the culture that produces them than any other random act of violence that’s totally part of a pattern. Rather, our interests in the case are legal, and epistemic: in the face of overwhelming public sympathy for this abjectly chickenshit act, the military prosecution is charging the perpetrator with manslaughter only. And the slaying is convulsing Israel for the woeful following reasons: (1) because the existence of video evidence captured by a Palestinian stringer for a left-wing NGO has given the public the impression that the decision to prosecute was influenced by enemies of the country, as if that’s relevant even if it’s true; and (2) because the perpetrator has not been released home to await trial. Yet neither has he been remanded: he’s being held on his battalion’s permanent duty station—the same punishment, as I recall from IDF service, for arriving a moment late to mess hall formation. You still get chocolate milk. Yet this kid-gloved approach only seems to bother enemies of the country. Can we analogize this reasoning to that of other times and places? Without getting hamstrung by matters of degree, I think of course we can.
Second verse, same as the first: one Zuher Bahlul, an Arab, putatively equal citizen of Israel and prominent Hebrew-language sportscaster now standing for parliament on the ballot of the Jewish center-left, reacted to the case by commenting publicly that Palestinian assailants who target not civilians but military positions—as the “victim” in this case had done before being incapacitated by the soldiers he so inadvisably attempted to stab—are not terrorists, strictly speaking. The outrage at this that ensued among Israeli Jews extended through the top of Mr. Bahlul’s own party and all the way up to the Office of the Prime Minister, who took to Facebook to issue a condemnation of the comments. Believe me, you’ll never hear an Israeli schoolchild chiming “words can never hurt me.”
But unless you believe indefinite military rule ought never to be resisted (a misapprehension that would even be deleterious to the defense impulses of the military rulers), and that your own troops are no better than toddlers in terms of vulnerability (maybe that’s why they gave us chocolate milk), Mr. Bahlul’s assertion is self-evident. To not limit the definition of a terrorist to one who targets civilians is to deprive the word of all meaning, as the Israelis have been doing for decades now in trying to transmit its synonymity to ‘Arab’ beyond just the Hebrew language. (Maybe that’s why there’s so much counter-intuitive sympathy in Israel for Syrian refugees making their way to Europe). But there’s something perverse about what Arabs think, say and feel being tantamount to a security concern—if you don’t forcibly live beside them you won’t have that problem. But as it stands, everyday political speech (and not only incitement to violence) has long been regularly prosecuted by the Israeli civil administration for the occupied territories, and the curricula of Arab schools inside Israel has long been tightly regulated by Education Ministry censors and surveillance, to the extent that even certain common-knowledge historical events that are taught to Israeli pupils may not be mentioned to Arab ones, who have to learn them at home from relatives whose views may not conform to Education Ministry standards, to say the least. Sticks and stones may break my bones….
But if our little Jewish Sparta is a scaffolding built on a foundation of little-man syndrome, how does the little man relate to a lug? Obsequiously. So, just last month, an American MBA student on a school-sponsored tour of Tel Aviv start-ups was injured in a stabbing attack by a Palestinian assailant on the Tel Aviv waterfront, only to die later in an Israeli hospital of the wounds he’d sustained. It just so happens that this particular American was a Gentile, West Point graduate and recently discharged member of US Army Special Forces. Other than the obvious fact that he wasn’t boycotting, no one in Israel bothered to ascertain his thinking about issues related to the conflict, or the extent of his sympathies with either side, before local memorial ceremonies were arranged by the Israelis, with military honors, as though the man had fallen in uniform, or otherwise under a flag. Local politicians and media outlets issued announcements obliquely expressing—in guise of condolence—the assumption that the slaying confirms the identical nature of the two countries’ geostrategic interests. It goes without saying that if the hapless young gentleman had been inadvertently run over by a settler in a Peugot bent on murdering Palestinians at a checkpoint, his US veteran status would’ve been downplayed or ignored by the Israeli media and government. A waste of human life is bad enough, why waste an opportunity to gain from it politically?
But so what? Aren’t public lying and institutional mendacity endemic the world over? Well, but let’s not lie to ourselves. Self defense is a dish best served cold.
If Zionism comes down to the simple question of whether the state of Israel should persist, then I’m a Zionist, even though I concur that the state was founded on ethnic cleansing and maintains itself on acts of impunity; sometimes you’ve gotta steal a loaf of bread to feed your family. What I won’t countenance is the consistent denial of all responsibility for one’s predicament, the ceaseless castigation of fortune, or the prosecution of political speech by (for example) sending an armored brigade to arrest a dim-witted beautician over comments she posted on Facebook supportive of jihadi attacks on Israeli civilians. Donkey punch her? Pun intended. Send in APCs? That’s some fag shit right there.
Send a salami
to your boy in the army
I’ll cum quick if you promise to respect my authority