Israel’s aim is more room for a pure people


Israel’s aim is more room for a pure people

Its war in Gaza is driven by the belief that Jews are a ‘source of light' fighting against ‘the sons of darkness', writes ISMAIL LAGARDIEN.


NOT a day has gone by since the violent attack on Israel of October 7, 2023 that the Israeli response has not shown an increasingly wicked, immoral and inhuman face, exposing the ends of the war as an expansionist project with a long-term objective that lies beyond our imagination — and probably beyond the life of the current generation.

When or if there is a ceasefire, it will not silence the Israelis' voices nor quench their thirst for expansion, for more land, lebensraum, and for settling a “pure people” on that land. Purity (taharah) is a cornerstone of Jewish religiosity and identity. This much can be learned in Leviticus. There is no getting around that; the Israelis want more land, and only Jews will be allowed to live on that land. Along the way, the Israelis seem to be on a collision course with Islam and its holiest sites in western Asia.

Most recently, Israeli heritage minister Amichai Eliyahu said “the so-called month of Ramadan must be wiped out”. Ramadan, the holiest month on the Islamic calendar, and the adherences (fasting) that are part of it, is one of the five pillars of Islam, the other four being profession of faith, daily prayers, giving of alms and haj — the holy pilgrimage to Mecca. The quest to “wipe out” Ramadan is, therefore, a call to destroy a founding principle of Islam.

The Israeli expansionist quest goes further still and seeks to destroy a second pillar of Islam, the haj. The Israeli writer Avi Lipkin predicted that Israel’s borders would extend “from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia … from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates … I believe we’re going to take Makkah, Madinah and Mount Sinai, and purify those places.” (See this video clip on Instagram.)

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One commentator on X (as reported by Middle East Monitor) made the point that this expansion and search for more living room was part of political Zionism from the beginning. If and when it comes together, moreover, “it will not be difficult for Israel … Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan will not pose a difficulty because Israel can overthrow the regimes in these countries easily, and controlling their lands will be easy after spreading the culture of normalisation and acceptance of Israel. No one will resist Israel like Gaza and Hezbollah resist it.”

In so many iterations, prominent Israelis have made clear that they are “a light unto the world” and that anyone who opposes this view is necessarily antisemitic. “We are the light,” Benjamin Netanyahu has said, “and they are the sons of darkness.”

Everyone has to accept, then, that the Israelis want more living space, that only “pure people” would live on that land, and that other lands, including the most sacred Islamic sites (and practices), have to be “purified” by the source of “light” (the Israelis) who battle against the “sons of darkness”.

All of this has horripilating similarities with Nazi expansion in the 1930s and 1940s. In his study of Hitler, the British historian Ian Kershaw recalled that in the dictator’s mind, Jews would be “removed”, if necessary “by the sword”, to capture the land Germany needed for its “living space”.  In the Israeli imagination, Palestinians today (and Saudis, Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese and Jordanians tomorrow) will be removed to provide living room for Israelis.

As Theodore Roosevelt said about European settler genocide against indigenous people in North America, it is a war against savages standing in the way of the “most righteous of all wars”.

While visiting fighters of Israel’s Desert Reconnaissance Battalion last November, Netanyahu said: “Our partnership is the future of all of us against these savages, simply savages. You are all imbued with the same goal — we are going to win … There are no breaks here, there are no half things here. It’s not an ‘operation’, it’s not a ‘round'. We will go until total victory here.”

What can be more righteous than wars fought against savages in the name of god? It is this righteousness, and repeated references to scripture, that emboldens Israel’s grand vision of greater living room for pure people, and that shapes the self-image of the Israeli army as “the most moral” army.

Soldiers are not moral, war is inhumane

The idea that the Israeli army is a “moral army” is risible; warfare (and war, in general) can never be moral. Even (moral) arguments of making war more humane fall flat on the killing fields. One of the strongest arguments that would have us believe war has become more humane is the turn to a post-human conflict that relies on technology (drones operated remotely from consoles hundreds or thousands of kilometres distant). Another argument put forward to defend or promote the idea of “human warfare” is the use of psychotropics, psychotoxics, psychotomimetics or hallucinogenic agents, which are explained as “non-lethal” because their effect is to incapacitate people and paralyse their will to fight. In other words, a protagonist does not seek to kill the opponent, only the opponent’s will and conscious mind.

For as long as war is aimed at killing people, destroying their homes, hospitals, clinics, schools and sources of food, war cannot possibly be described as human and the people who conduct war cannot assume a mantle as “the most moral army”. In fact, there is clear evidence that the Israeli campaign employs organised terror to reach its objectives of expanded living room for pure people.

Chris Hedges, the veteran war correspondent whose book War is a Force that Gives us Meaning remains a highly recommended read, described Israel’s war on Gazans in the following manner:

“Nothing is off limits. Hospitals. Mosques. Churches. Homes. Apartment blocks. Refugee camps. Schools. Universities. Media offices. Banks. Sewer systems. Telecommunications infrastructure. Water treatment plants. Libraries. Wheat mills. Bakeries. Markets. Entire neighbourhoods. Israel’s intent is to destroy Gaza’s infrastructure and daily kill or wound hundreds of Palestinians. Gaza is to become a wasteland, a dead zone that will be incapable of sustaining life.”

That the Israeli army ordered people to “safety zones” or “safe areas” was simply a military tactic to corral Palestinians into a specific place where they are then slaughtered. The Israelis are driven by the “Dahiya Doctrine" which states that they should employ massive, disproportionate force, destroying infrastructure and civilian residences, to ensure deterrence on the one hand contiguous with expansion of living room for pure people.

Hedges is correct, or at least I agree, that the Israelis will kill as many people as they wish on the way to creating more living room for pure people.

Israel “plans to finish the job, to obliterate what is left in the north of Gaza and decimate what remains in the south, to render Gaza uninhabitable, to see its 2.3 million people driven out in a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing via starvation, terror, slaughter and infectious diseases”, wrote Hedges.

Nothing about that, nothing about the evidence, nothing about the analyses, the stated ideals and objectives of the Israelis, as detailed above and in many places at different times, can be described as humane and “moral”. At any given time and place, there are limitations of human nature and imagination (and intelligence) that are beyond the moral frame of soldiers, generals and political leaders — most especially when it comes to insider-outsider politics, where one group may believe itself worthy of more justice than the other.

To help us understand the self-proclaimed moral superiority of the Israeli state and army, and its US backing, I use (or abuse) a passage by Reinhold Niebuhr in Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics which goes as follows:

“Most rational and social justifications of unequal privilege are clearly afterthoughts. The facts are created by the disproportion of power which exists in a given social system. The justifications are usually dictated by the desire of the men of power to hide the nakedness of their greed, and by the inclination of society itself to veil the brutal facts of human life from itself.

“This is a rather pathetic but understandable inclination; since the facts of man’s collective life easily rob the average individual of confidence in the human enterprise. The inevitable hypocrisy, which is associated with all of the collective activities of the human race, springs chiefly from this source: that individuals have a moral code which makes the actions of collective man an outrage to their conscience. They therefore invent romantic and moral interpretations of the real facts, preferring to obscure rather than reveal the true character of their collective behaviour. Sometimes they are as anxious to offer moral justifications for the brutalities from which they suffer as for those which they commit. The fact that the hypocrisy of man’s group behaviour … expresses itself not only in terms of self-justification but in terms of moral justification of human behaviour, in general, symbolises one of the tragedies of the human spirit: its inability to conform its collective life to its individual ideals.”

Pulling everything together. The Israelis want more living room for pure people to live in and would destroy at least two important pillars of Islamic belief and places of worship across western Asia, from Jerusalem to Mecca. This expansion of living room is driven by the belief that the Israelis are a “source of light” fighting against “the sons of darkness” and a savage people standing in the way of settlers who may come from any part of the world with a right to settle in Israel, now expanded thousands of square kilometres across western Asia. If you believe, as the Israelis clearly do, that the war is a war of good against evil (the Israelis are the “good”) then there are no limits to how many people should be killed and to how much living room is required to settle pure people.

♦ VWB ♦

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