Monday, August 04, 2014

Ruled by fear

Yesterday an anonymous reader left a comment on my previous post about the Prez' acknowledgement of U.S. torture:

The leaders who had to deal with Fear, had not read Pema Chödrön, thus didn't know how to defeat Fear and did what Fear told them to do:

...the young warrior said, "How can I defeat you?" Fear replied, "My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power." In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Yes. Not easy, but yes.

Two truths our political leaders have forgotten or suppressed, since the 9/11 attacks:
  • Terrorism is not an existential threat to this country. This vast, rich, powerful land cannot be laid low by atrocities, however photogenic and brutal, committed by bands of fanatics.
  • Only we ourselves can undermine this fortunate country. Our systemic alarums -- airport searches and massively intrusive collection of our personal communications -- are security theater, designed to keep us fearful and compliant.
As a wise president insisted in times of far domestic greater peril than these: "we have nothing to fear but fear itself."
***
We have only to contemplate what the embrace of fear does to Jewish Israeli society to know more deeply our own peril.


What follow are excerpts from a long letter posted at Jewish Voice for Peace by two Dutch-Israeli citizens who, with their children, find themselves "vacationing" in Tel Aviv as the Gaza is blown to pieces and so many Palestinian civilians die and are maimed.

It took us few rather disorienting days here to slowly come to the conclusion that the palpable collective fear is disproportionate to the actual threat.

Government propaganda, lies and deceptions to galvanize support for the war is relentless and the Iron Dome system, the system that intercepts Hamas rockets, is just part of it. An expert opinion according to which the Israeli population is almost 100% safe even without it because of the inferiority of Hamas' weapons and the abundance of shelter infrastructure seemed credible. Deep inside, we believe, everyone knows that the chance something will happen to you here is statistically negligible. It can happen, like the chance of dying in a shocking aviation disaster as what happened this summer to hundreds of Dutch citizens, but it is very unlikely.

One commentator rightly said that Iron Dome functions as the Deus-ex-Machina of this war. Everyone but us is convinced it saves lives. We see it more as a psychological warfare device. Curiously, much of the explosion sound that gets people so worked up here is largely produced by the Iron Dome system itself. ....

... One has to be here to understand fully that the legitimacy of this war is not just manufactured top down by the Israeli government. It is a genuine and widespread social reality. Everyone, even those few hundreds opposing the war, us included, take part daily in its production. Take for instance the dynamic of normal routine interrupted regularly by sirens. In no time, these interruptions themselves became a normal routine. We all got used to the “pending emergency” situation. We are all on an emergency-normality switch mode. People stop cars in the middle of the road to seek shelter in nearby buildings only to go back behind the wheel and honk impatiently at the other drivers as if nothing happened ...

... Authorities, institutions, employers, all heighten security procedures, producing signs, road signs and flyers with instructions on buildings “safe spaces”. Municipalities put on giant billboards with patriotic slogans, one more offensively patriotic than the other. We received a leaflet to parents from the kids’ summer camp advising us on how to maintain “emotional safe spaces” for our children. On TV mainly men talk: brain-dead, repetitive, militaristic tactic-talk. The blogger Idan Landau once aptly called this tsunami of public appearances at times of war zman hagvarim -- "the time of men."  At the same time, the witch hunt of dissenters has reached epidemic proportions, targeting many, and women especially, who dare speak their minds against the war. ...

.. For the vast majority of the country this fear is disproportionate to the actual threat. We described also a climate of threat of violence and violence directed against any form of dissent. In an atmosphere of pending emergency dissent is forbidden and any government action addressing the collective paranoia from the threat of Hamas is seen in a positive light. Needless to say, the government does nothing to curb the climate of violence against dissenters. ...

Do read it all.

I sometimes thank God that I am not an antiwar Israeli living with the crimes of my country -- and then I remember that I am a citizen of the world's leading empire which blithely tromps about the globe committing its own crimes.

1 comment:

Hattie said...

I am refusing to talk about this with my brainwashed relatives. They are insignificant anyway.

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