18. Progress in Civilization

18.6 The contemporary threat of nationalist fundamentalism

We are at an historical turning point because the contemporary domination of the US has been deemed evil and was challenged on the 11th of September 2001. Three targets were chosen: the White House, symbol of political power, the pentagon, symbol of military power, and the towers of International Commerce located in New York. The attack on the White House failed. Apparently, the American people in their vast majority were kept ignorant of the activities of its government and business leaders in foreign lands and was genuinely unaware that the credit enjoyed by America after WW II had been squandered and replaced with a strong aversion for American values throughout the world. The elimination of former colonial powers, once presented as the glorious march of the damned of this earth toward freedom and dignity, is now perceived as a conscious drive by the US to eliminate strong hegemonic competitors, allowing it thereafter to divide and influence the freed countries for its own and sole benefit. Eisenhower put the shah of Iran back on his throne from where he had been chased by Mossadegh. He bragged that the problem had been easily solved. It is too bad he could not verify the mess created in Iran in later times by this intervention.

When history tears a hole in the fabric of consensual assumptions, the mind flies through it to invent a new conception of self, ethics and society. The attack of the 11th of September 2001 on the symbols of American power indicates the will of the damned of this earth to establish a new society. The attack was stupid and evil. It impoverished further the damned of this world. It was organized by minds blind to reality and logic, obliterated by the hatred distilled by a Holy Book, yet not only rabid Muslim fundamentalists saw in this attack a just punishment for the deeds perpetrated by an evil country. On 11 November 2001, the Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boof confided to the newspaper O Globo that he regretted that only one plane had hit the pentagon; he wished there had been twenty-five. Boof is a former catholic priest, strong defender of the South American theology of liberation, whom the Vatican attempted to silence. The old worn out man, living as an outcast with the damned of this earth, expressed thus in O Globo his despair about the policy of the US in South America. He did not approve of the assault on the twin towers of Manhattan, no more than did the youth of Tehran, that assembled after the 11th of September to manifest its sympathy to the US. Stupidity knows no frontier and this courageous manifestation in the streets of Tehran was hidden to the American people.

The events of September 11, 2001 induced an obsession with war against terrorism, sustained by two observations. Firstly, that it is possible for a tiny group to deal a grievous blow to any state in the world; therefore, all rich states are vulnerable and will establish a global coalition to combat it. Secondly, the capitalistic system was globally severely jolted with a mere 3,000 deaths and 3 buildings destroyed; therefore, even the remotest possibility of something like September 11 recurring has to be rooted out, at whatever cost. Anti-terrorism has created thicker blinkers than did the anti-communist crusade. The policy of the US has rejoined the policy of preemptive strikes practiced by Israel as recommended by the Torah. If preemption by one country against another country that presents no imminent threat were accepted as legal, the structure of international peace would be undermined. If this doctrine is not rapidly rejected, Article 51 of the UN charter will have suffered a mortal blow. It is carte blanche for war on the world.

Many nations have exploited the “war on terrorism” initiated by the US after the attack of 11 September 2001, to clamp down on the most legitimate dissent. The callous contemporary behavior of Israel is governed by the experiences that the Jews underwent in former times. The war of 1948 was particularly odious, with numerous massacres of Palestinians. Best known is the raping of young girls, the opening of the bellies of pregnant mothers with butcher’s knifes and the parting in two of newborns, followed by the massacre of the 254 villagers of Deir Yassin, near Jerusalem, by the Jewish groups Irgoun and Stern, on 9 April 1948. The massacre was followed by the burning of the corpses and the destruction of the houses of the village, which provoked an exodus of hundred thousand Palestinians to Jordan and Lebanon. In 2007, there were in Lebanon 400,000 Palestinians in 12 concentration camps.

The anathema inflicted in 1948 to peaceful Palestinian villagers was more bestial than those committed in former times. Primitive razzias spared women and children. Moses disapproved of this humanness and ordered the killing of captive Madianite women and children (Nb. 31:7-18). Joshua progressed in savagery during the conquest of Jericho by killing all living beings, including cows and donkeys (Jos. 6:21). The next progress in savagery was Judith (meaning The Jewish woman), who beheaded her lover Holopherne in his sleep (Jdt. 13:6-8). Many books of the Torah were translated in Greek (the Greek Bible of the Seventy) for the education of the Jews of the Diaspora and for the Jews of Palestine who hellenized after the conquest of the country by the Greek Seleucides in 196 BC. Judith was written in Palestine about a century before Christ during the Greek occupation, as an example of Jewish resistance to occupation. Apparently, the original text was in Hebrew, indicating possibly a sacerdotal origin, but Judith is not canonic in the Torah. She acted alone. The progress in savagery at Deir Yassin was the participation of a number of young Jewish women to the ethnocide. The Israeli authorities neither disarmed nor punished the accountable criminals. Ben Gourion approved of the Palestinian exodus and the later geographic extension of Israel (figure 18.8, right panel). It is now clear that the intention of the Israeli leadership has been, from the outset, to eliminate the Palestinians from “Great Israel” and create this Great Israel at their expenses: a Palestinian state is implausible. The map on the right shows that Palestinian lands are slowly and inexorably chewed up and digested by Israeli colonists. Palestine is already now a non viable political entity and will in the future be further minced up.

Figure 18.8. French maps showing the borders of Israel in 1949 (left) and of Palestine in 2002 (right). Israel in 1947 was supposed to occupy the yellow-colored portions of Palestine. After the war, Jerusalem was occupied and Palestine reduced to the two light-green-colored portions of the land. Red squares locate massacres of Palestinians. The right map shows Palestine in 2002. The Palestinians have complete jurisdiction over the vivid green-colored portions of the country. All the rest is controlled by Israel, sometimes jointly with Palestinians (the clear green parts of the map). In 2007, the Israelis have erected a wall of separation not within their borders but in Palestinian territory: they built their own ghetto.

Afbeelding 19

Young Israelis are schooled and drilled in suspicion, hatred, cautiousness and deviousness, being taught to trust no one, to retaliate mercilessly, to demand levels of security impossible to meet while Arab schoolchildren are brought up in the adulation of Aladdin, the victories of former ages, the rejection of the Crusaders into the sea and the depiction of their Israeli enemy as a ferocious heathen beast that the legendary bravery of Muslim warriors must and will destroy. Displacement, dispossession, starvation, poverty, disease have become comic-strip items. The key to contemporary development is not education but war.

If some countries are culturally inclined to deviousness, countries wracked by poverty and hunger, riven by civil strife, are bound to cheat, lie and steal, the more intensely the poorer they are. The leaders of these countries are obsessed by the fear of poverty. It makes a collaboration with them hazardous. Corruption sustained by blatant incompetence is everywhere but it is political dynamite in poor countries. Firstly, because it distorts fundamental decisions about development priorities, policies and projects. Secondly, because the corrupt gains are immediately smuggled outside the countries to safer places, and not reinvested in situ to finance business. Thirdly, because it leads to promotion, not to prison, and fourthly because it occurs in regions where the average per capita income is not above 20,000 US$ but a misery. The adolescents who confront an inconsistency between idealistic conceptions and the steadily increasing gap in wealth, crime and corruption are crystallizing a cynical perspective. We see it at work in Palestine, in Chechnya, in Afghanistan, in Algeria, in Iraq and also in France where violent social unrest in response to blatant administrative corruption and incompetence is endemic. The adolescents of today will bring a harsh philosophy to their daily assignments when they assume positions of responsibility two decades from now. This is evidence and must be met by a policy devoid of arrogance and egoism.

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