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Tue Oct 20, 2015, 12:28 AM


Israeli society is crumbling under the weight of occupation


What is going on today in Israel/Palestine is the unraveling of the original social contract, given that the Israeli Leviathan can no longer fulfill its task of maintaining internal stability through the denial of human rights and through unlimited violence channeled outwards in the direction of Palestinian people.

Everything is unfolding following the scenario foreseen by Hobbes in early modernity: each citizen reclaims for her- or himself the right to exercise force, which has previously been entrusted to the political state. Nir Barkat’s appeal to the Jewish residents of Jerusalem to carry firearms with them at all times; the simplification of Israeli gun licensing laws; the rush by civilians to purchase new weapons—all of these are telltale signs of a return to the Hobbesian state of nature, where no one is safe. (Think of the Jewish Israeli recently stabbed by his fellow citizen, who confused him for a Palestinian enemy.) The crowds chanting on a daily basis “Death to the Arabs!” and the lynch mob that, yesterday, executed an Eritrean migrant on the suspicion that he was involved in an attack on the central bus station in Beer Sheva are still more obvious expressions of the state of nature uncovered beneath the thin veneer of political state.

Above all, the narrative of democratic Israel as an orderly exception amidst the chaos of the Middle East has been exposed for what it is, namely a relatively short-lived fiction. That fantasy was plausible to the extent that a violent repression of Palestinian people produced the desired calm within the Israeli polity. However, once a small portion of that violence ricocheted and the sense of security was lost, sovereignty passed from the militarized state apparatus to the increasingly militarized civil society, less and less distinguishable from the a-civil state of nature.

As a post-scriptum to these brief reflections, I would like to add the idea that occupation and violence inflicted on others cannot be sequestered indefinitely; sooner or later, they affect and consume the occupying and violent self. An exception to the general state of emergency is bound for dilution in the prevailing chaos that surrounds it. The occupying mind cannot help but become an occupied mentality, which, in concrete (also in the literal sense of the word) terms, means that separation from the neighboring other is the segregation, enclosure, and ghettoization of the self. The construction of separation barriers is happening at an alarmingly fast pace not only in Israel/Palestine, where Jerusalem is effectively being divided by the Israeli authorities, but also in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as between the United States and Mexico. Yet, it is in Israel alone that this process is accompanied by an equally speedy collapse of civil society. Pity that the Israelis have not understood a simple fact: the biggest threat hurled in their direction comes from themselves.

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Reply Israeli society is crumbling under the weight of occupation (Original post)
R. Daneel Olivaw Oct 2015 OP
DetlefK Oct 2015 #1

Response to R. Daneel Olivaw (Original post)

Tue Oct 20, 2015, 06:39 AM

1. I think, Israel was never able to drop the mindset of victimhood.

First, the Holocaust.

Then the wars to establish Israel.

Then under siege by hostile arab neighbours.

Then under siege by the Palestinians who live in Israel but who are really not supposed to live in Israel because this really is jewish territory because the Torah says so.

Israel has turned from the victim into the perpetrator, but it has failed to realize that. Israel must "defend itself" against the Palestinians who occupy israeli territory since before the state of Israel was founded.

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