I am writing this blog while sitting in my living room on my chaise lounge, the ceiling fan is slowly turning and I am comfortable and safe. Today I went to work and earned a wage and the government took a percent of my pay and put it towards the collective good of the state. Some of this money, or more specifically ~$3B per year, goes to aiding the Israeli military in their ongoing domestic struggle for __________. Yes, blank. There is not an objective or an end goal. They are in war, in perpetuance. As Beauvoir says, the objective of all war in abstraction is the complete annihilation of the enemy1 and most wars, in this regard, fail at this objective. Conversely, all wars are also a success, as annihilation of the enemy does not succeed at the original goal of waging war to ensure peace. As follows, war is built on the ethics of ambiguity and from this ambiguity grows propaganda and the politics of slight of hand.
On June 12th (2014) three Israeli teenagers went missing and this sparked international response. The US Secretary of state and the UK Foreign Secretary demanded the release of these three teenagers with the naïve assumptions that the actions are rooted in the abstract idea of terror. I am not saying with certitude that their disappearance was not the product of agents of a radical ideology, but merely that the idea of terror is a relative term. In reality- who fears who?
In the first ten days of June (2014) seventeen Palestinian teenage boys have been abducted in the occupied West Bank by the Israeli army, and in defense of these seventeen children the US Secretary of State has been silent; the Western media outlets and the BBC, also, silent. There is now more than 5000 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons where they are tortured and coerced into confessions, and in many instances they aren’t even charged with a crime. International organizations, such as Amnesty International, have documented these crimes against humanity and abhorrent violations of the Geneva Convention, but it has been a lost cause.
I just finished reading the book Survival in Auschwitz2 and to my surprise it was rather hard to connect myself to atrocities of such a harsh extent. The uplifting and hopefulness of the narrator in describing the dilemmas and conflicts of practicalities of everyday life in the concentration camps made me completely forget that if I was able to see this man, in person, in 1945, I would see a sick, malnourished and broken man. A man that disconnected himself from his humanity and spirit, morphing himself into am empty shell of his former existence. He did not do this out of rejection of the self, out of self-loathing or caprice. It was done to survive, as it is not possible for a single person to suffer in absolution and also survive.
Many Palestinian communities are destroyed in the name of war, they are withheld from electricity and simple medical care. They are not given fresh water to drink or to wash with. And many, many children have been killed for no reason and nothing is said, no flags are raised. Their existence as been reduced to being instrumental to the machine of war- a war that is in perptuance. It is very difficult for me, on my chaise lounge, to imagine living in 1945 Germany or in 2014 West Bank. In my lifetime I have only seen fistfights on the playground, struggles of trivialities among privileged young boys. I can take a break from writing and walk outside on to my patio and watch people and children walk by with ease and gentle acquiescence- blind and deaf to the suffering that exists worlds away.
In America, in Germany, in Israel, in Palestine, in the past and in the present- a child, is a child, is a child. The torturing of children in the name of war, in the name of ideology and in the name of God is putridly inhumane. And the Western world sits in complacent silence, as my ceiling fan spins round and my tax dollars aid and abet legal and sanctioned terrorism. In the war of ambiguity, all is subjective and nothing is fair. The silence does nothing.
1 Beauvoir, Simone de, and Bernard Frechtman. The ethics of ambiguity;. New York: Philosophical Library, 19491948. Print.
2 Levi, Primo. Survival in Auschwitz: the Nazi assault on humanity. Charleston, SC: Important Books, 2012. Print.
This essay is in homage and reverence to the wonderful activism and compassion of Amena Saleem. Here’s her eye-opening article that inspired my essay.