FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

License to Kill

by GILA SVIRSKY

It’s been a terrible week. Our elderly cat was diagnosed with kidney failure, our newly built basement flooded with water at the first winter rains, and Yelena was stabbed to death right over our heads.

I didn’t hear Yelena’s screams, as some of my neighbors did, but was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by the police trying to bash down my door, in the search for her apartment. When they found her one flight up, she was already dead, lying in a pool of blood with stab wounds to her neck and chest, two horrified daughters (aged 7 and 8) at her side, and a boyfriend who claimed that he killed her in self-defense because she attacked him. Never mind that she was a graduate of a battered women’s shelter and he had 3 complaints of assault filed against him. Never mind that she was 31, short and of slight build, and he 50, tall and solid. Somehow he had to stab her multiple times to protect himself.

This week we mark International Day of Eliminating Violence Against Women, and I’d like to say a word about the culture of violence that is growing around us, in Israel, in the United States, and everywhere that people and nations that are big and powerful think they can solve problems by raising a knife or gun.

Killing, in all its many forms–crime, political assassination, suicide bombings, and the war against terror–doesn’t work. Why not? Because killing ultimately destroys more than it saves. It destroys the victim, it destroys the families of the victims and perpetrators, it destroys masses of innocent bystanders, and it sends a message that violence is legitimate, thereby inviting another round of it.

Ask the Palestinian survivors who lived in the building as the terrorist who had a one-ton bomb dropped on his apartment, and were left to count the loved ones killed by that bomb. Ask the Israeli parents who try to pick up the pieces of their lives after a suicide bomber has gutted a bus. Ask those whose loved ones were wiped out in the Twin Towers. Or the Iraqi children who live in Falluja as the U.S. army gave them a demonstration of bringing democracy to the world.

All killing is a crime. And killing by governments becomes a role model for others. Take Israel as an example, though this could be applied to Palestine, the U.S., or any country whose leaders practice or condone violence.

In the past four years, as the Palestinians justly seek their independence from occupation and Israeli leaders try to prevent it, violence has spiralled on both sides. The results are not only more death in political action, and more bitterness and hatred, but also more violence in civilian society: In the past four years in Israel, we have had more rape, more killing of women by their male partners, and more violence in schools by children. The overlap between the “war on terror” and increased violence in the streets, homes, and schools is no coincidence.

A culture of violence filters down into society when its leaders use force to resolve problems. This culture of violence–loosening the reins on the use of force–is not an invention of TV and movies (which have certainly overdone it), but begins by personal example of those who influence our values and norms: parents, political leaders, the most powerful nation on earth. What are we to learn when a superpower, with all imaginable means at its disposal, uses violence?

So at a time when we are thinking about how to end violence against women, I submit that you can’t wipe it out without also addressing the example set by the state. When power and violence dominate political strategy, governments are issuing a license to kill, and that trickles right down to us and the apartments over our heads.

GILA SVIRSKY is a peace and human rights activist in Jerusalem. She can be reached at gsvirsky@netvision.net.il

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 28, 2017
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
Lawrence Davidson
Moral Failure at the UN
Pete Dolack
World Bank Declares Itself Above the Law
Nicola Perugini - Neve Gordon
Israel’s Human Rights Spies
Patrick Cockburn
From Paris to London: Another City, Another Attack
Ralph Nader
Reason and Justice Address Realities
Ramzy Baroud
‘Decolonizing the Mind’: Using Hollywood Celebrities to Validate Islam
Colin Todhunter
Monsanto in India: The Sacred and the Profane
Louisa Willcox
Grizzlies Under the Endangered Species Act: How Have They Fared?
Norman Pollack
Militarization of American Fascism: Trump the Usurper
Pepe Escobar
North Korea: The Real Serious Options on the Table
Brian Cloughley
“These Things Are Done”: Eavesdropping on Trump
Sheldon Richman
You Can’t Blame Trump’s Military Budget on NATO
Carol Wolman
Trump vs the People: a Psychiatrist’s Analysis
Stanley L. Cohen
The White House . . . Denial and Cover-ups
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail