Monday, August 4, 2014

Residences of Gaza are not deserved to be killed,

August first, was a terrifying day at work. One of my colleagues, after reading the news that the 72 hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas had abruptly ended, according to Israeli sources, because of the “kidnapping” of an Israeli soldier, became angry and made some brutal statements.

He said that “if you don’t have the power to fight Israel, then you should sit down, stop complaining and live your life”, to which I calmly responded that “there is no life in Gaza”. He then shockingly stated that “they deserved to be killed” and argued that leaders like Stephen Harper were right in calling for their destruction (I don’t think that even Stephen Harper, the staunch Conservative and pro-Israel PM of Canada, could publicly voice such an opinion).

I told him, it is clear example of discrimination: to protect the life of Israeli citizens and soldiers and prevent Hamas of continuing their military operations, you ask for the massacre of Hamas militants. Such an statement when, in last 26-27 days, more than 1600 Palestinians have been killed, most of them civilians and among them hundreds of children, for me, was intolerable.

I was not able to stay silent; I needed to show him that I was extremely upset about the brutal statement and that I did not want to hear such comments again. After 20 minutes or half an hour, I told him to “please never again talk to me about massacring other people”.

In response he said his judgment is realistic and that I am just a dreamer. I told him it is my choice (1).

I am horrified about talking about politics or even humanitarian issues with such a person. I did not continue. 

Normally, we think that the people sitting beside us, passing us in the streets or living in our neighbourhood cannot be cruel. Hannah Arendt, in her writings about “banality of evil”, is pointing exactly to this misconception. She is trying to show us how a “good German”, one that listens to Beethoven and Mozart, reads the poems of Goethe and Shriller, falls in love, loves their kids, says hello to their neighbours and colleagues, are able to commit such horrible crimes (She was talking about genocide of the Jews, Gipsies and massacre of communists, social democrats and whoever stood against fascism). She is explaining that these terrible crimes, for many ordinary citizens, became an administrative and technical matter, not a humanitarian issue. 

 Arendt remind us that occurrences of horrible crimes (like the holocaust), not only need a government or authority capable of organizing and encouraging the crime, but also a transformation in the consensus of many citizens, who participate in the crime (by killing others, by supporting the killings or even by remaining silent), is necessary. For them hating and eventually killing “others” became like killing germs or destroying a disease. 

My colleague’s brutal statement endorsing massacre against Hamas militants (an organization born out of the crisis which continues to benefit from the crisis) which each time effectively ends in the massacre of the residents of Gaza is an example of making terrible crimes a simple and ordinary action. It is horrifying that a citizen of a democratic country is endorsing and asking for such a crime. 

Israel, either as a prison guard (if I consider Gaza as a big open-air prison) or an occupying power (if I consider Gaza as an occupied territory), under international law, does not have the right to knowingly target and kill the residents of Gaza. Israel is responsible for the lives of the residents of Gaza.

In my opinion, it is our responsibility to unconditionally condemn the perpetual siege/blockade of the territory (which not only causes a humanitarian catastrophe, but also empowers the extremist groups) and the massacre that Israel is currently perpetrating in Gaza.

August 4, 2014

1- I love “Imagine” by John Lennon;

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

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