Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Orwell and the Gaza War // Forward Thinking

Forward Thinking –
by Daniel May

"The force of the phrase “Israel has a right to defend itself” stems from its conflation of a statement of general fact with support for a specific act: this bombing campaign, this ground incursion, this war. Its implication is that those who support Israel’s right to defend itself by necessity support this war, and those who do not support it deny Israel’s right to defend itself. It tethers support for a specific decision to support for an incontrovertible truth, and opposition to a specific decision with lunacy, irrationality, and, yes, anti-Semitism (for who would argue that the Jewish people, alone, do not have this right?)."

Orwell described the cliches of politics as “packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.” “The right to defense” is a harder narcotic. It eases the pain, but it is a poison. It eats at the notion that Jewish sovereignty could be about more than survival. That it might be about life — life with its choices and life with its responsibilities. In life we know that we can never be sure how our choices will unfold. Yet such choices are worth making because we recognize that a life of mere survival is hardly life, that we cannot become who we want to be without making choices whose outcomes we cannot fully predict.

We know the choices Israel will make to stop rockets, to continue the siege, to keep Hamas activists in jail. But what choices will Israel make to prevent these perpetual rounds of killing? To be a nation that does not live another generation ruling over others by the force of the gun? These are difficult questions, but they are the questions of a sovereign people. The catchphrase “Israel has a right to self-defense” renders these irrelevant, naive. This is its power, and this is its price.

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