Only a cold diagnosis would be proper for such a horror as has been inflicted upon the Palestinians during the gruesome Operation Protective Edge and seven decades of occupation. The Israeli State has become pathological (or was it always so?), a State motivated to commit a psychopathic onslaught continuously and indefinitely. Israel is ripe to be diagnosed as a “Death-State”, a concept constructed by Eugene W. Holland’s as the linking up of a militarized, bureaucratic state with a capitalist political economy and a social psychological desire pushing nihilistic destruction. What desiring-machines, as Deleuze and Guattari liked to call them, are making these terrorizing libidinal flows within the Israeli State?
The first desiring-machine is the paranoid military apparatus and its concomitant constant desire for more militarization, both from the State and the general population. Israel has created in the “Other” of the Palestinian its justification for paranoia, to see around every corner a need for violence. What else could be surmised when an overwhelming majority of the Israeli population not only supports Operation Protective Edge, but wished for a more extreme reaction than the State itself performed?
This incessant need for violence becomes an addiction to “defense”, which is expressed as offense. Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge are crimes of aggression labeled as defense, because in seeking security from the results of Israel’s original crimes, such as Nakba Day, Israel is only capable of creating more crimes. Its wife-beater logic, a relic of European colonialism employed now for five centuries, yells at its victims, “Stop making me kill you!” The victim is the cause. The victim retroactively justifies the cruel violence of the victimizer. The victimizer claims to be the victim as it continuously beats the truly oppressed.
The first desiring machine is linked to a second desiring-machine of calculating, bureaucratic cruelty expressed through the rationalized control over Palestinian lives. Checkpoints become ways to sort Israel’s socio-cultural hierarchy in daily life. Control over Palestinian movement is tied into the necessity of the Death-State to make resistance docile, passive and limp. Even the nutrition Palestinians in Gaza will receive is calculated at subsistence levels by the Israeli State. All questions of self-determination are answered in the negative by the nihilistic occupier, the one who limits formal freedom as a malicious act against the vitality of life.
The militarizing and bureaucratic machines become capitalist selling points for the urban warfare weaponry Israel sells to countries all over the world, such as to the Brazilian government for World Cup “security”. This is the third machine driving forth the Death-State, as its accumulation of profit becomes based in its domination of the Palestinians. Israel’s economy is then inextricably linked to sadist actions, which if stopped would end the advertisement they have for their weapons. Dead Palestinians make their marketing pamphlets.
The linking of the militarizing, bureaucratic and capitalist desiring-machines produce what Holland calls a “total-war machine” and is based on the convergence of “fundamentalist, national-supremacist, and fascist tendencies”. A monstrous entity built to annihilate. The world watches it work, and it does work. The last Western settler colonial state to disappear the native people, the last expression of the genocidal European, of a settler mentality, of living the lie of terra nullius and the representation par excellence of what five centuries of Western dominance has brought; a wifebeater logic with a Death-State to implement its diabolical desire.
With the twilight of occupation comes the suicidal urge of the Death-State. As world opinion finally recognizes the oppressed, Israel becomes more bellicose, belligerent and cruel. For if not them holding the “Holy Land”, then no one shall. For they claim that they are a shining light in a mad region, even if it is they who have gone mad. Israel in this way mimics its benefactor, the United States; two suicidal nuclear states; two Death-States; two with smiles hiding malicious intent; two with suits to make it look clean; two so formal abusing international law; two who claim only they can save the world and bring the future; two as one and the same. We should fear for when the Death-State commits suicide, it will bring us all with it in our era of the twilight of the West.
Andrew Smolski is a writer based in Texas.