FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

License to Kill

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:

December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
James McEnteer
Breathless
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Face of Justin Trudeau: Are Palestinians Canada’s new Jews?
Dean Baker
Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule
Elliot Sperber
Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement Through Basic Color Theory 
Rivera Sun
The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Historic Opportunity to Transform Trade
December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail