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Medieval State, Medieval Carnage

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Fawaz Turki

As Israel’s circle of vengeance closed in on Gaza last week, and ashen-faced civilians cowered in their homes, one wondered if Zionist leaders this time around may have crossed a line — that line in Immanuel Kant’s “Perpetual Peace,” published in 1795, where the German philosopher wrote: “No state at war with another shall permit acts of hostility as would make mutual confidence impossible during a future time of peace.”

The carnage that the Israeli entity has wrought in Palestine in recent years, from Jenin to Rafah, is beyond belief, carnage almost medieval in its bestiality.

The Gaza incursion alone, which began Sept. 28, has cost, as of last Sunday, 102 Palestinian lives, most of them civilians, and was accompanied by massive demolition of houses, razing of farmlands and destruction of olive groves, the latter often the only source of livelihood for Gazan families.

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), since the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation began four years ago, Israeli troops have demolished 2751 homes — nearly 40 percent of them in the first eight months of this year — and have uprooted or burned 382,695 olive trees, 30 percent of them also this year.

Palestinian cities in the territories have become separated from one another by 659 checkpoints, roadblocks and trenches. Then, of course, there’s that concrete barrier constructed in some places around, but mostly through, the West Bank — rendering Israel, if you consider it, the only entity in the world that lives, as medieval communities had done, surrounded by a wall.

Irrespective of our national, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, there always remain common denominators that define our humanity — our media of interaction, our moral compass, our grammar of perception of what constitutes inherent decency in our social values. And when a community of people crosses a line, we know it. By its actions as an occupier, most notably since it chose a murderous bully like Ariel Sharon as prime minister, Israel clearly has enacted a decisive change in the tenor of that human behavior. Its action in Gaza most certainly attests to that.

Just as we can watch, say, topologists, mathematicians and chess players, who speak no syllable of each others’ language, working effectively at the blackboard or the chess board, in the silent speech common to their craft or their game, we are able to recognize behavior by others who choose to retrench from the manifold truths that keep our humanity human.

And many have recognized that behavior for what it is. Today Israel stands as the most reviled and isolated entity in the world, threatened with international boycotts, condemnation and divestiture, with the Presbyterian Church voting overwhelmingly several weeks ago to begin “selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel.”

So why is Israel so self-destructively hell bent on pursuing policies guaranteed to ensure its certain demise? In brief, because its leaders feel empowered by US backing to do what they please in the region, and what they please to do is to one day come to control, and finally ethnically cleanse, the whole of Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

Last week, Dov Weisglass, until recently Sharon’s chief of staff, told the daily Haaretz that the primary goal of “withdrawing” the roughly 8,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza was to strengthen Israel’s hold on its settlements in the West Bank and to freeze the political process as a way to indefinitely block the creation of a Palestinian state.

Weisglass, who was Sharon’s point man in talks with the Bush administration, said Israel proceeded to do all that with the “blessing” of the US government — a government, incidentally, that yet again went against international consensus last week when it vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel for its invasion of and savageries in Gaza.

And folks, this same US has a master plan to promote democracy, human rights and social justice in our part of the world, including Iraq. Humbug!

Add to the human casualties in Gaza, the result of US blessings, the intellectual casualty of promoting freedom, and trust in American intentions, in the Arab world.

Published Thursday, October 14th, 2004 - 06:52am GMT
Article courtesy of Arab News
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