Duel against terrorism?

Against the unfortunate logic of anti-political hostility. A response to Judith Butler’s article “The Compass of Grief.”

The scandalous attack by Palestinian terrorists against Jewish neighbors also has dramatic consequences here and around the world: the victims of the earthquakes in eastern Turkey and Morocco seem almost forgotten; The victims of the floods in Libya and Greece are almost forgotten.


And Russia and Putin’s criminal war of aggression against Ukraine, which it was claimed was also directed against the peace order in Europe, that is, against all of us, threatens to take a backseat.

Things could not have gone better for Putin, it seems: Hamas’s latest terrorism is distracting attention from its current misdeeds and is provoking a huge wave of solidarity in the Arab world, which accuses the Nobel Peace Prize winner of EU to tolerate or even tolerate what is harshly criticized about Russia: a brutal occupation policy, which otherwise also goes hand in hand with Israeli settlement projects and annexations.

In international debates, on the one hand, everything is mixed or reduced to a common denominator and, on the other, everything that is so controversial is subjected to a rigorous “either or.”

Either you see the suffering of the victims of terrorism and their survivors or that of the Palestinians; either you recognize that Hamas’ terror has “reasons and causes” or you side with a racist and neocolonialist state; Either you stay with Israel, others respond, which has been in danger of extinction for many years, or you betray the loyalty you owe to this country, you who should not have forgotten why many Jews after 1945 only exist in the establishment of one. his own State as a refuge.

In fact, in Germany we have to observe with fear how the existence of this State has been radically questioned and threatened with death for a long time, as if there was no way out. In fact, this should remind us of the prehistory of the founding of this state. And no one should try to deny us the historical sensitivity of this connection to the recent terrorism against Israel.

Regardless of this, people argue like tinkers about the correct interpretation and classification of what happened, in such a way that each word seems to be chosen incorrectly because it hurts or offends and provokes one of the parties involved.

Even attempts to remain sane in this desperate situation draw accusations of failing to see or take seriously the suffering on one side or the other. In this sense, neutrality can no longer exist, neither with respect to current suffering nor with respect to its historical conditions and its future, which in situ, in Israel, Gaza or Palestine, can only promise mutual hatred.

Proof of this is the extent to which people allow themselves to be carried away by degrading language: the other party behaves “like animals” and deserves to be treated accordingly, it was repeated repeatedly. The animals that have once again been denounced do not commit terror, much less with the intention of eliminating them.

But the American philosopher and declared Jew Judith Butler personally confirmed such intention to the current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. She was engaging in “genocidal rhetoric,” she wrote in the London Book Review of October 19 word for word, although the person in question was not in any way talking about the annihilation of the Palestinians, but only about Hamas, which cannot represent this people and is not even a people in itself.

Doesn’t that make a difference anymore? Can even the harshest terms like genocide, which has meant genocide since 1948, be used so carelessly? Butler might also have found something with Tehran’s highest Muslim dignitaries and his enthusiastic supporters.

Apart from that: is there anything more here in Europe than unconditionally condemning incitement to the destruction of others? Don’t we have relevant historical experience in this regard? And doesn’t Europe defend the historical learning from this experience? If the old motto of Aeschylus Agamemnon Didn’t “learning from suffering” prove its value, at least in this case?

Yes, of course, many will say. But the question is how. Butler rightly puts on the agenda the problem of whether Hamas terrorism can only be condemned without wanting to “understand it historically” and without “contextualizing” it, as seems necessary.

If this is accepted, the same should also apply to the current Israeli resistance. But even the right to self-defense, which can hardly be questioned under international law, remains trapped in a fatal either/or logic:

Either they grant us this right with all the consequences, or they do the business of the other side, terror, whose representatives like that intelligent Mr. Ismael Haniyya (Prime Minister of the Palestinian Autonomous Territories from March 2006 to June 2007), who is personally safe from Qatar is involved in dirty Hamas business, answers: Either they recognize our actions as legitimate counterviolence or they are human rights hypocrites who only have eyes for the fate of the Jews, but not for the Palestinians who have been miserably oppressed by them for so long.

But aren’t we in danger of being drawn unconditionally into deadly conflict by that logic, regardless of what may speak for and against such controversial interpretations? In the end, which is already verbally foreseeable, if threats of mutual annihilation are taken seriously, there can only be a disaster in which all parties will lose, all parties who can now make their respective supporters believe that the solution to all His problems simply consist of the annihilation of his enemies.

Netanyahu has also been clear about this. The still living members of Hamas are no longer more than “walking corpses” (dead men walking), ad. As if the war against them, with hundreds of daily bombings, which the Israeli Air Force itself documents, was not immediately going to produce many more future enemies than they could destroy.

This is about the futility of purely military countermeasures, which will only lead to a further deepening of the conflict, if this is possible, and its extension into the future.

There appears to be little hope that US President Joe Biden’s warning not to be carried away by thoughts of revenge, as happened on the US side after 9/11, when the “war on terrorism” declared by George W. Bush Jr., many claimed a thousand more victims than the brutal attack on the World Trade Center.

In this way, the political potential of public mourning that united people of all stripes around the world, as expressed by the participation of well-known Muslims at Yankee Stadium in New York, was wasted.

If anything can undermine the fatal polemogenic logic of one or the other, us or them, for us or against us, then it is certainly not military, national, state or international power that is now being used against others to finally defeat them, but It is precisely the admission of failure on all sides that has put those involved in this situation in which they threaten to risk the future of their own children and their children’s children, as well as the sadness for what has happened to them. each one of them. They have done it to others.

Anyone not directly involved in the current conflict should, to the extent possible, refrain from giving supposedly good advice. The difference between the situation on the ground, under constant threat of terror and bombing, and the more or less threatened lives of others, however worried they may be, is too great.

And yet, from afar some things are more noticeable than they are so close to unpredictable violence. What is especially striking is something that is almost never discussed in global disputes: the children and grandchildren of all sides apparently have no lawyers. As a result, their future will be ruined in the conflict that may soon escalate and they will be doomed in advance to continue the current hostility.

For them, apparently no one protests against the fact that in a future of Palestinian-Israeli coexistence that is now almost completely obstructed, they too should be absorbed in radical hostility, in mutual hatred and in mutual fantasies of annihilation.

Younger people, including many parents of young children, know it on both sides: what Hamas is responsible for also destroys their own future, including and especially that of the Palestinians.

And a young Israeli woman wrote to my youngest daughter: Netanyahu has put us in this situation. That is (as I understand it): he has done virtually nothing to make peaceful coexistence possible, at least in the distant future.

Instead, he is also using martial phrases that are escalating into rhetoric of destroying enemies. And, almost as an afterthought, his governing coalition’s attack on Israel’s political culture, which has brought hundreds of thousands to the streets to demand the independence of the judiciary, is being silenced.

Now, as we read, she is acting more and more randomly. In fact, any policy – ​​on all sides – that only provides destruction to enemies, condemns itself to total failure.

The policy of extermination is something like politics in name only. In fact, being anti-political, it also causes the destruction of the political.

Apart from the cross-border pain, which is still perceived as human by the survivors on the other side, there is also a common point that one could remember: politics is the constant avoidance or prevention of an all-or-nothing logic, as previously expressed by the French philosopher Paul Ricœur, who died in 2005. But one hardly dares to hope that politics, which currently only leaves behind heaps of ruins around the world, where autocrats, dictators and populists have a voice until death also pronounces on them your verdict, have another chance.

But if so, only as a sign of mourning for what one has done to others. that is to say. also: as a sign of mourning for the miserable level of the previous policy, which did not want to face it and, for that reason, cannot have its own future.

It is possible that Butler also pointed in this direction with his aforementioned contribution, which is titled: The compass of grief. However, one cannot demand mourning as she does when she asks, referring to the Palestinians: “Where is the world’s mourning?”

Nor can one be responsible for the hundreds of Palestinian civilians who, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, have died at the hands of the Israeli army and settlers in the West Bank and Gaza area since 2008, nor for the victims. Jews from the latest Hamas terrorist attacks demand mourning.

And yet, there are traces of a cross-border pain that they ignite without allowing themselves to be used for collective hostility and destructive politics. This is how Muslims and Jews in this country found themselves in an ambiguously shared pain. So it could be that, from its darkness, the faint light of a future will shine again in which children and grandchildren everywhere can live together.

This pain should not be overcome as quickly as possible, as even psychoanalysts have long taught. Rather, they should be allowed to appear publicly as a sign of solidarity with victims on the other side; as a sign of protest against a ruthless policy that only promises more and more violence and hostility, which, as a policy of annihilation, can only result in its own destruction.
(Burkhard Liebsch)

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