“I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip," Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant said. "There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed."
“We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly,” he said.
"All of the places which Hamas is deployed, hiding and operating in, that wicked city, we will turn them into rubble," prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. "I say to the residents of Gaza: Leave now because we will operate forcefully everywhere."
"I have directed the movement of the USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean," secretary of defense Lloyd Austin said. "In addition, the United States government will be rapidly providing the Israel Defense Forces with additional equipment and resources, including munitions."
Violence comes in many forms and can be either slow and grinding or sudden and percussive. What a victory of messaging it is then to be able to define what violence is and what violence is not and expect for good reason that much of the western world will adopt your terms. Leaving your enemy having to fight back against a force that isn't even hitting them.
I think it should go without saying that I abhor war crimes against civilians even in what I consider to be a just cause of liberation. And Palestinians yearning for escape from decades of oppression and confinement and apartheid is indeed a just cause.
I also think that it is very convenient that the dominant power in any given conflict almost always gets to commit their own war crimes from a remove via blockade and sanction or missile and bomb. Each resulting individual civilian death observed from an abstract sanitized distance in the form of a building collapsing. Being made to collapse.
A lot of people are wedded to this idea that it’s somehow so much worse to be brutalized or killed by a man standing there in front of you than by a pressed button or pulled lever. Or to be systematically killed by laws and policies of indifference or outright malevolence.
Is shooting a man in the head more or less just than locking him in your basement without food or water? Surely he'll live somewhat longer in the latter scenario but he will nonetheless surely die. Having been killed.
So yes of course I abhor violence. I simply wonder why we are being press-ganged into a moral jury for one kind of violence and not the countless other examples of the more invisible kind. Invisible to those of us observing from afar that is. The killings that aren't even really happening if you squint just so.
I'm reminded of Twain on the Reign of Terror:
There were two “Reigns of Terror,” if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe, compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.”
And Engles on social murder:
When one individual inflicts bodily injury upon another such that death results, we call the deed manslaughter; when the assailant knew in advance that the injury would be fatal, we call his deed murder. But when society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet; when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life, places them under conditions in which they cannot live – forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence – knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain, its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual; disguised, malicious murder, murder against which none can defend himself, which does not seem what it is, because no man sees the murderer, because the death of the victim seems a natural one, since the offence is more one of omission than of commission. But murder it remains.
I'm also thinking today of Michael Brooks on "the complex issue":
It's not a complex issue. It's super simple. There's one group that has enormous power. It's the most powerful country in the Middle East backed by the U.S. It acts on another population of people with total impunity and is never held accountable for anything. There's no symmetry in the relationship period.
Just as a thought experiment: If we know that somehow a population of Jewish refugees ended up in the West Bank in Gaza, and an Arabic government in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv had an open air prison in Jewish Gaza, which they bombed with white phosphorus, killed civilians indiscriminately, they had no provisions for medicine, they had an embargo that blocked food, electricity wasn't running, over 48% unemployment, life expectancy and malnutrition statistics were horrifying, and one of the major policy makers in this hypothetical Arabic Palestine state said “we need to put those Jews on a diet.” In the West Bank there was another Jewish area where there was a little more autonomy, but there were regular Arabic settlements where they pulled up the Jewish farmers’ food, they terrorized them with rocks, the security forces broke children's bones, and they couldn't drive on their own roads, we'd all have no problem understanding what that was. So there's nothing complex about it.
Here's Jack Mirkinson today for Discourse Blog:
Israel treats Palestinians as less than human as a matter of policy. It has systematically and purposefully destroyed the prospects of the much-vaunted two-state solution. It has trapped the people of Gaza in a hell as bleak as you will find anywhere on earth. It has stolen the land of people in the occupied West Bank in brazen violation of international law. It allows fascists to commit pogroms against Palestinians with impunity. It attacks Palestinians in their holiest places of worship. It leaves thousands of Palestinians to rot in jail without charge. When Palestinians try to peacefully stand up to any of this, Israel crushes them. The killing of Palestinians is as routine as the sunrise.
And, I should add, Israel does all of this with the unquestioning support of the most powerful country in the world. When Joe Biden made his first remarks about this weekend’s violence, he completely—and surely deliberately—failed to acknowledge that Palestinians have been dying. That is how much the United States wants to send the message that Palestinian life is cheap. That is how much protection Israel has from the US. That is how lopsided this conflict is.
I could go on, and on, and on. But hopefully the situation is clear enough. What Israel does to Palestinians is a form of war by any stretch of the imagination, and it is a war that has been waged every day for decades.
It is totally acceptable and humane to lament the violence that has broken out over the past few days and to plead for an end to the killing of civilians. But anyone trying to say that this violence sprang from nowhere; or that it is not rooted in the decisions that Israel has made over the last 75 years; or that Palestinians have not been dying every day for generations; or that they bear the most responsibility for what happens next, is lying to you.
And here's me and my regular reminder about the Rube Goldberg Machine of Pain:
The Supreme Court and politicians and their defenders think they should be able to start up the Rube Goldberg machine of pain then walk away and by the time the boot at the end kicks us all in the balls we'll forget who inserted the ball at the top. No! I saw you put the little silver ball in the thing! I saw you do it. It didn't just happen by magic it was a decision that was made by people.
Politics is making decisions that send people to suffer and to starve and to scrape by and to slowly but surely die. It might take a bit longer than other more reliable forms or killing but it is killing all the same. Almost every single utterance from a Republican (and plenty from Democrats) about their intended policy is an attempt to set real violence against real people into motion by someone else's hands (usually cops but also doctors and landlords etc) which is ok for some reason under the rules of the civility game.
At the same time the whisper of the threat of perhaps considering some kind of light consequences for the powerful such as being told to go fuck themselves by a crowd is considered beyond the pale.
And me on the crying bullies:
I know it should not at this point but it nonetheless still surprises me how the United States insists upon maintaining the collective delusion of our of unassailable national virtue all the while continuing to be the most prolific exporter of violence around the globe. Any attempt to tell the truth about this very simple fact — that we and our apprentices in Israel are the authors of some of the most despicable war crimes in recent history — is cause for an apoplectic political meltdown. Especially when it comes from someone like Ilhan Omar (if you know what I mean.) And not just from the Republicans from whom you might expect this type of disingenuous bullshit but also from the Democrats from whom you also might expect this type of disingenuous bullshit. Cowards all.
As I’ve written in here before our military exploits are essentially the large scale version of how the police operate within America which makes sense because America itself is the self-styled cop of the world: incapable of addressing any situation without bungling in guns blazing sowing endless pointless destruction in our wake. One boot on an innocent’s face the other boot stomping firmly on our own dick.
While it’s bad enough that we cause so much suffering what’s worse is that then on top of that and also like cops we need to be big fucking pissing babies about it whenever anyone tries to call us out on our bullshit. Barbarians and martyrs at once. There’s no difference between what’s coming out of the Democratic leadership right now than what you typically hear from any police union when someone has the temerity to suggest that they might perhaps acknowledge they’ve got something of a temper problem. Catch Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the leadership in the role of fucking Pat Lynch of the New York Police Benevolent Association. Crying and hitting you and crying and hitting you and crying and hitting you.
That’s just the thing. We aren’t governed by the rule of law. By refusing to ratify the ICC’s Rome Statute we have maintained that we are in fact above it. Everything America or Israel for that matter does is de facto legal because we are the ones doing it. Sure we may have to do unsavory things at times but since our hearts are in the right place any violence is tempered by our good intentions. The relative evil of any given atrocity is evaluated in reverse by the character of the party committing it. When the bad guys do bad things it’s obviously bad. When the good guys do bad things it’s regrettable but necessary.