Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Avigail Abarbanel: Israel has always been crazy

Avigail Abarbanel (Mondoweiss)
It’s not a big claim to fame but I have been saying for years that
 Israeli society is crazy. I escaped from Israel largely because of
that… Phil Weiss’s [Psst! Is Israel Going Crazy?] is correct.
 analysis [Psst! Is Israel Going Crazy?] is correct - See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/12/israel-always-crazy#sthash.25T9ljKE.dpu is correct
 except for one point and that is that those sentiments he describes
have always been there. It’s not like it’s something new that just
sprang up recently.

I have grown up with this all around me. I recognise the language. I
was brought up (I was born in 1964) to believe that the ‘Arabs’ (the
word ‘Palestinian’ was largely not used in my childhood) could not be
trusted, that ‘they’ are not like ‘us’, that they are treacherous and
would stab me in the back if I relaxed and trusted them. We were always
kept apart from the Palestinian citizens of Israel, let alone the
Palestinians living in the West Bank or in Gaza. Gaza in fact was a
symbol of a cursed, hellish place. When someone annoyed you you said to
them Lech le’Aza, ‘Go to Gaza’, the equivalent of ‘go to hell’. That was
 part of normal day-to-day Hebrew in my youth. Like I mentioned in the
past, the first time I met a Palestinian as an equal human being was in
Australia in my early thirties…

Without knowing it, I grew up with classic colonial rhetoric.
Colonisers motivated by fear and possibly guilt, have always demonised
the people they have hurt. For some people it is easier to inflict
suffering if they don’t see the other as a fellow human being.
Dehumanisation helps to reduce empathy and shut down the conscience. It
is being done everywhere where there is injustice and abuse.

The difference now is that that these largely informal but widespread
 social attitudes to the colonised have now found themselves back in
power. Drunk with their newfound freedom, coming out of the shadows with
 no need to hide themselves any longer, free from the tyranny of
worrying about ‘world public opinion’, they are out celebrating and
feasting; Politicians outdoing one another acting out and giving life to
 their most depraved, murderous fantasies. And they are out-of-control.
But please do not make the mistake of thinking that these feelings and
urges belong to a lunatic fringe. They do not. They are supported by the
 majority of Israeli-Jews and as Phil rightly says, they are led from
the front by top politicians. These politicians are now changing the
legal system to create an environment that fits these attitudes better
and where they can be unleashed legally, and thrive.

Israel has always been mad and bad. How could it not be when it is
based on a fearful, traumatised, paranoid, settler-colonialist culture
with a sense of eternal entitlement, and when it is built on the ruins
of the indigenous culture it has worked so hard to eliminate? Israel has
 always done bad things, terrible things. Ask the Palestinians, the
asylum seekers, the poor, women… But previously things were done in
secret. When Israel was young and poor and needed the world, it was keen
 to present an image of legality, reason, refinement, intellect and
democracy to fit with the Western world it so wanted to be a part of.
What was always right under a thin veneer, but that almost every Israeli
 Jew knew and supported, is now brought out into the open. Israel is
simply leading itself and its culture to its logical conclusion. What is
 happening now was always inevitable. It is the next logical step. It is
 impossible to sustain a split reality of a civilised, legally-minded,
educated, cultured, refined, enlightened society while colonialism
continues to rage with its atrocities and injustices. Enlightenment can
only truly exist on a foundation of justice and freedom. Anything else
is self-serving and short-lived nonsense. Most Israeli academics not
only support their regime, they benefit from it. Watch the majority of
them say nothing about these new developments.

As ugly and as dangerous as these developments are, it is a good
thing that the truth is finally out. Israel should have never been
supported in the first place, but it’ll be increasingly harder for
anyone to continue to support a country that is following the path
Israel does now. Like all sick societies, Israel is its own biggest
enemy and it feels invincible, justified and does not give a damn about
what others think about it. This is a lethal cocktail.

I never trusted that country. I was always terrified of it becoming
truly and openly fascist. As a woman I never liked the way religion has
played such a central role in Israeli society and was always worried
that it would eventually take over completely. I always felt oppressed
by the atmosphere of suspicion and harshness and the obsession with
‘security’ and control, which has tragically infected the entire Western

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