Tuesday, January 6, 2009


As Israel continues its psychotic rampage, many of its admirers cheer on the mass murder. Certainly no surprise, and I'm sure you've encountered your share online. The beasts aren't hard to spot. Despite the opinion shift against Israeli aggression, there remain plenty of people who can't get enough Palestinian dead, applauding the carnage from comfy chairs, feeling at one with the slaughter.

To say this is despicable really doesn't capture its essence. There's something deeper, pathological, sickening when not sad about those typing excuses for Israel's war crimes. Sadder still, we're all of the same species, give or take a chromosome here and there. So at some level, they are us. And what sick fucks we can be.

I've written tens of thousands of words about Israel and Palestine -- hell, it's probably well into six figures by now -- and have discussed and argued the issue at Molly Bloom length, and I've never gotten used to the toxic atmosphere surrounding it. I'm not complaining, as engagement is my choice; just noting that no matter how reasonable you may think you are, the air still reeks of blood and shit, and over time this twists your tone. Even in the more "civil" debates, one must slash through countless myths and falsehoods before even touching the main topic, assuming you get there at all. Popular opinion may be turning against these tactics, but it's a slow process, which gives Palestinian-phobes ample time to reload.

One point that keeps jumping out, apart from the ceaseless dehumanization of the Palestinians overall, is how "extremist" Hamas apparently is. Now, I hold no brief for Hamas; I've repeatedly criticized them, and have no love for their theocratic mindset (Israel has shown more support for Hamas than I could or ever would have). But "extremist" was once applied to the PLO, especially during the period of Fatah's moderation. Israel couldn't negotiate with them, their charter called for the elimination of Israel, they held civilians hostage and used them as human shields . . . all the same rhetoric we hear today about Hamas.

No sane observer would confuse Fatah for Hamas, yet in relevant periods of Palestinian history, both groups ostensibly behaved the exact same way toward the exact same end. It's a simple narrative to memorize, and can be applied to any form of Palestinian resistance, secular, religious, whatever. Thus, any Palestinian who resists a rational, moral agent like Israel must be hell bent on destruction, either for themselves, against the Jewish state, or most likely both. Keeping to this narrative helps one glide over numerous complexities, chiefly, regional history. It's an all purpose excuse, which is why it's been used for decades.

Since all "extremism" resides with the Palestinians (a genetic trait?), there's no need for Israeli state apologists to review Zionist comments about Palestinians being sub-human and diseased; no need to discuss "demographic time bomb" fears among Israeli politicians, their version of worrying about Mexican birth rates in the US; no need to unearth Zionist statements and charters calling for a Greater Israel, however unlikely that seems at the moment; no need to recall how the Israeli mainstream insisted that the Palestinians simply didn't exist -- they were an "invention of some Jews with distorted minds," as Golda Meir once put it; no need to be reminded of death squad leaders like Begin, Shamir, and Sharon, who became Israeli Prime Ministers. There's no need to do any of this. Why? Because Israel cannot be "extremist."

There's also the colossal disparity in body counts, a disparity openly embraced and excused by Israeli statists. To tell those who you have surrounded and outgunned that you will slaughter 100 of them for every single Israeli killed is not "extremist" -- it's how democracies function. This also holds true in weaponry. Qassam rockets with variable range and destructive capabilities: "extremist." F-16s, helicopter gunships, tanks, bunker busters and white phosphorus -- democratic. It's really quite simple once you learn the lingo.

For American supporters of Israeli violence, the use of "extremist" is even more inspired, especially when you recall some of the crazed reactions to the 9/11 attacks. If the United States was ever treated like Gaza, a Hamas-like reaction would doubtless be viewed by many Americans as appeasement. Qassam rockets? Fucking pacifists.