How repetitive history sometimes seems when it comes to slaughter! The response to having 1,200 people in your country, including at least 29 children, brutally killed is to slaughter 5,000 or more children in the land where your enemy is hiding. Does that make any sense at all? And keep in mind that, when it comes to the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, that 5,000 is no more than a holding figure for what could, in the weeks to come, prove to be thousands more kids dead (and who knows how many more wounded ones), some slaughtered by bombs, missiles, and bullets, some undoubtedly succumbing to starvation and disease. We’re already talking about significantly more dead children than the total number of those killed in conflicts globally in 2022. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has all too accurately labeled Gaza “a graveyard for children.” (But given what’s happening, it will undoubtedly be a “graveyard” without tombstones or monuments.)
Tell me if that makes sense. What did any children ever do to deserve such a fate? Could this truly be, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims, evidence of “the battle of civilization against barbarism”? Does such ongoing slaughter — including staggering numbers of air strikes against Gaza, the destruction of much of its housing and its hospitals, the displacement of nearly 1.7 million of its 2.3 million people, and the denial of the most basic human needs (food, fuel, and water) — add up to a reasonable response to the nightmare of Hamas’s October 7th attack? And honestly, has “the essential nation” on this planet, as President Biden likes to call the United States, done faintly what’s necessary to bring things under control (rather than rushing yet more weapons to Israel and two aircraft carrier task forces, troops, and planes to the region, creating the possibility of an even wider war of some sort to come)?
Given such a nightmare, doesn’t it make sense to think about other ways to face the violence that seems such an essential part of the human condition? In that context, let TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon explore the idea of a nonviolent response to our violent world. Tom
On Ending Dreams of Revenge in Israel, Palestine, and Elsewhere
When I was in my early twenties, I seriously considered murdering someone. He had given my best friend genital herpes, which many health practitioners then believed was the agent responsible for causing cervical cancer in women. (It wasn't.)
Back in the 1970s, though, I believed that, by infecting my friend, he might have set in motion a process that would someday kill her. That he was an arrogant jerk made it that much easier for me to contemplate murdering him. But there was a larger context to my private dream of revenge. My anger was also fed by a growing awareness that so many of us were just then acquiring of the history of systematic patriarchal threats to, and constraints on, the lives of women. And in those heady days of second-wave radical feminism, I could imagine killing that man as a legitimate response, however brutal, to the male violence that seemed to surround me, and as part of a larger uprising of women.Read More