Swantosez: Benjamin Netanyahu-..civilization and other newspeak
“What’s this”, I asked myself. "No more droning?"
A few days into Israel’s attack on Gaza, and listening to the morning score when it was Israel four hundred and Gaza ten, I was startled by the voice of an interviewee claiming to be Benjamin Netanyahu.
Because the content of what he was saying was so completely absurd, I thought the programmers had finally had enough of the neutered “straight down the middle” and decided on a new, brassy tack.
Was it Orson Welles imitating Netanyahu? Had the Mercury Theater been resurrected? Was this whole Gaza thing just a spoof like “The War of the Worlds” had been? It’s been so long since that famous stunt; maybe somebody was trying to jazz things up.
No. As it turns out Orson Welles is dead and gone.
If not a spoof, what then? Maybe it was the sixtieth anniversary of Orwell’s “Brave New World”? Maybe the speaker was just giving examples of “newspeak”, “doublespeak” and “doublethink”? To be followed by a brilliant illumination of the cultural and psychological roots and implications of “War is Peace”?
As it turns out George Orwell is dead and gone too, no audience for 1984.
Max Headroom! That’s it; a ploy to broaden the audience by interesting the Goths in current events. Maybe what Netanyahu was saying was just a message from the Zic-Zac Corporation, part of a necromancer conspiracy, the broadcast just being hacked in from that place they invented: “cyberspace”.
Sadly, as I continued to listen to the report I realized that despite how crazy the words were this was reality. Not aliens, not a warning of a future that might include “Big Brother”, and not some contemporary nerd internet fetish but a spokesman for an American ally calmly and assuredly praising what just a few generations earlier would have been universally seen as complete crap.
For what he said, as the body-count ratio was about forty to one, was that the conflict in Gaza was a clear example of moral and cultural superiority. He said that the four hundred or so Gazans murdered by Israel were an example of “civilized” behavior, while the ten Israelis murdered by Hamas rocketry represented “barbarity”. Presumably he said this with a straight face as the NPR host did not gag.
Even though anyone with half a brain knows that when munitions are expended in civilian areas it is one hundred percent certain that innocents will be killed, this pomposity with an Oxford accent insisted that the fifty or so children blown up were “accidents” and therefore “proof” that Israel represented a superior people. This disgusting and half-witted assertion that the willful and premeditated murder of children is the new standard by which civilized behavior may be measured, indeed praised, was not challenged by the interviewer, nor has any mainstream commentator labeled it the racist garbage that it really is. On the other hand, everyone agrees that the Hamas rockets are “terrorist” acts.
As shocking as this erosion of humanity in Israel may be, because I am an American, and my father’s people were Jews, I am doubly embarrassed by the complicity of my government in these horrible acts.
Since these things are really happening, and the report was not an artful concoction to prod our consciences, I abandoned looking to the arts for an explanation, and turned to history for precedent.
Even though the Israelis had withdrawn from Gaza, I think it would be fair to say that they still exercise a “remote” jurisdiction in that area. While through this clever arrangement they avoid the legal responsibilities of an occupying force, it is that de facto control which leads us to seek other examples of “civilized” behavior by which to evaluate Mr. Netanyahu’s twisted boasting.
If the object of the assault was a response to the rocket attacks, then how have such acts been traditionally described? When a conquered or occupied people murders members of the foreign force or people, and then the foreign force responds by murdering some of them, what word does history have to describe that situation?