As the airwaves and newsstands are inundated with incomplete, clichéd, and dehumanizing portrayals of Palestinian suffering–a narrative of degradation and victim baming sharpened by the icy silence of America’s cultural managers–Efadul Huq intervenes with an eloquent message of resistance. At the center of Efadul’s message is the long tradition of apologetics for state terrorism that is a trademark of the intellectual classes in imperial societies. This tradition expressed itself in its most virulent form in a recent article in the New Republic. In this article journalist Yishai Schwartz proclaimed that Israel’s relentless mass slaughter in Gaza–a killing spree gruesomely captured in horrific images filtering out of Shujaiya–is not only necessary but “morally justified.” One trembles at the horrors awaiting the world if we fail to break with this ideology.
But Efadul takes on this task of breaking away in this piece, demanding “an other ‘moral accounting.'” He observes “The Palestinians already always live under subjugation, and when so-called ‘terrorists’ ‘spring up’ out of the tunnel, it is an act of insubordination the feminine principle will know-by-the-burn-on-its-flesh for having been brutalised similarly through centuries. The ethical encounter, entwined in such gestures, would be an instance of care, not domination or pity … In a father’s voice, Schwartz claims that in this conflict ‘reason itself seems to fail’ and, like a Wittgenstein, he wants to ‘pass over in silence’ the killing of innocents.” It is incumbent upon us all to defy the “fatherly” voices of the Yishai Schwartzes of the earth. A must read.
Yishai Schwartz, in a recent New Republic article, gives us a case study of “moral accounting” conducted in the voice of the father. Scwartz justifies Israel’s assault by proposing that “ceasefires have been offered” and the massacre comes after “days of restraint, warnings, and pleas”. He argues, “Israel only targets combatants” but civilians get in the way, though Israel warns through “personalised phone calls” before striking their houses. At the summit of this “moral accounting” Schwartz fashions for himself, like an Abraham!, a paradox of morality: “morality demands that Israel fight this war, but allows no way to fight it morally.”
As “a way out of this paradox”, Schwartz proposes a principle: “civilians cannot be used to make just wars impossible and morality will not be used as a tool to disarm.” In other words, the death of innocents is no reason to stop killing…
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