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The Power of Evil

Nothing so graphically illustrates the dilemma facing the United States and the United Nations as the catastrophic collapse of negotiations that failed in Italy when America found itself standing alone before the entire world, nakedly defending the defiant state of Israel as it demolishes Lebanon. While the remainder of the world castigated Israel for pulverizing the people of Lebanon in retaliation for the acts of a few Hezbollah guerillas, the state of Israel cried that it had to defend itself against the onslaught of missiles from this terrorist organization that has vowed to wipe Israel off the map. Rather than demand that Israel agree to an immediate cease fire, the Bush administration rallied behind Israel to demand that the UN force Syria to abide by Resolution 1559 and rid Lebanon of Hezbollah. Here’s the double edged dilemma: how does America force the UN to consider a resolution on behalf of Israel and deny Hezbollah and Hamas the right to ask the UN to raise all 65 UN resolutions that Israel has defied since 1948? And how does the United States support Israel’s right to defend itself when its defense includes not just the land granted to it by the UN in Resolution 188 in 1947, the only true and recognized borders of the state of Israel, but all the land and natural resources it has confiscated from the Palestinian people?

For Israel to proclaim that it has a right to defend itself when it occupies another people’s land illegally, when it continues to construct more than 60 new settlements on confiscated land since March of 2001, when it demolishes more than 4,170 Palestinian homes, when it defies more than 65 UN Resolutions calling for return of stolen land and a return to human rights, when it denies the right of return to those forced from their homes against international law, when it imprisons 9,599 Palestinians including women and children without charge or due rights, when it kills 734 Palestinian children since September 2000, when it ignores the rulings of the International Court of Justice regarding the illegality of the Wall of Lamentation, when it has amassed a military force that has in excess of two million four hundred thousand fit for military service, when it alone of all the nations in the mid-east possesses nuclear weapons, when it utilizes illegal chemical weapons of war on civilians as it does in Lebanon, when it presents itself to the international community as a victim of terrorists when in fact it is the perpetrator of terrorism, then it has no right to defend the indefensible, its criminal acts against the people of the mid-east. This is the Israeli state of demonocracy, a state in which evil rules.

Consider as well the defiant hypocrisy of the Israeli state that condemns Hamas and Hezbollah for sins it inflicts on Palestinians and Lebanese. Olmert and his ministers argue that both Hamas and Hezbollah are committed to the destruction of Israel, that, indeed, their very existence rests on “wiping Israel from the face of the map.” Yet no one mentions that four of the Israeli political parties launching candidates for the Knesset have platforms that call for the removal of Arabs from the land that, according to their twisted logic, belongs to Israel by historical right. No one mentions that Israel has already used ethnic cleansing to force Palestinians off their land, confined them behind a wall that steals their land and olive groves, refused the right of return to those forced from their homes, and created apartheid laws that prevent them from owning their own land. No one mentions that the current map of Israel obliterates the 45% of land provided for the indigenous population in Resolution 188 and graphically shows how the remaining 14% of Palestinian land in the West Bank and Gaza are totally surrounded by the Israeli IDF cutting the West Bank into three distinct bantustans and isolating Gaza from the West Bank thus making impossible a Palestinian state. This is the racism that the Israelis claim exists in the minds and hearts of Islamic fanatics when in reality it exists in the actions of the Israeli state. This, too, is the Israeli state of demonocracy where evil rules.

Evil confers intensity; it allows a state to confer on itself acceptance of an inscrutable purpose that mirrors its sick desires to hide its own insecurity. Such is the condition of the state of Israel as it mercilessly pounds the Lebanese people into oblivion, wantonly destroying apartment buildings, businesses, bridges, roads, airports, communication centers, generating plants, and the people as they attempt to flee the barbaric onslaught of the Israeli IDF. All of this brutality appears acceptable in the minds of Olmert and his Zionist fanatics to force the return of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah guerillas as prisoners of the occupying power that confiscated their Shaba farmlands in Syria three decades ago. Now with approximately 600 Lebanese dead, with more than 50 Israeli dead, with thousands made homeless, the insane intensity of Olmert’s drive into Lebanon demonstrates to the entire world what Israel has inflicted on the Palestinians these past 60 years but has managed to hide from the glare of TV cameras. The “civilized” state of Israel, like all imperialist ventures that cycle through human history, conceals its brutality as philanthropy noting it is destroying the evil of “terrorism” for the ultimate benefit of the world communities. Such hubris.

Here is how Joseph Conrad described this phenomenon in “Autocracy and War” in 1905: “The idea of ceasing to grow in territory, in strength, in wealth, in influence ­ in anything but wisdom and self-knowledge – is odious to them as the omen of the end. Action, in which is to be found the illusion of a mastered destiny, can alone satisfy our uneasy vanity and lay to rest the haunting fear of the future” That self-knowledge is the fear that suppresses their insecurity as they fail to find harmony with their neighbors because ultimately they seek to dominate them and confiscate their land. But history, especially that in the middle-east, demonstrates the folly and futility of the Zionist dream, the “greater Israel” of the covenant, that has no more chance of reaching fulfillment than the aspirations of the Roman emperors that destroyed the Jewish kingdom and dispersed its population throughout the world. Israel’s devastation of Lebanon graphically demonstrates a savage mentality dressed in pin striped suits and combat fatigues.

Evil, especially state evil, finds nourishment in self-delusion that feeds on visions of superiority cultured in ancient myths that have not been allowed to atrophy despite reason and historical events. Both Sharon’s Israel (and now Olmert’s) and Bush’s America feast on such delusions as they are fed “truth” by the ministers of superstition in the Zionist cults in Israel and the right-wing evangelicals in America. That the people of Lebanon must suffer the outrages of these demented minds only illustrates what uncontrolled power can inflict on the innocent.

Consider the enormity of the delusion: by instilling fear in the minds of their followers that God speaks through them, proclaiming that the existence of Israel is essential to the fulfillment of “end time” prophecy, that thousands must die to enable His truth to manifest itself, that the horrors of technologically sophisticated warfare mirror the images in the Book of Revelation, that despite hundreds of predictions over the centuries that Armageddon was imminent though it never came, they not only command obedience, they extol the savagery in Lebanon and mock the voices that dissent in the name of Jesus and his teachings to “love one another and thy enemy as thyself.” Such men belong in jail not in our houses of worship.

Evil knows no morality; it savors no regard for the weak or oppressed; it admits no rights but those it imposes; it condemns those who dissent without regard for evidence or truth; it denies all wrongdoing since its actions alone determine right; it feels no shame; it accepts no blame; it pleads innocence, seeks to cloak itself in the victim’s stripes, and curses those who condemn its crimes.

Franz Kafka presented a vicious portrayal of such a country in “The Penal Colony.” Considered as a metaphor for Israel today, ironically since Kafka wrote from the vantage point of being a Jew, the “Officer” and executioner delighted in describing the virtues of his state’s torture machine as it inscribed on the victim’s skin his crime, and in the duration of its agonizing process the victim learned what he was guilty of, though, until that moment of recognition as the steel spikes carved his sentence on his back, he had never been charged with a crime. Kafka knew the consequences of being a Jew in a world without compassion.

Thus it is in today’s Israel; the state, in the figure of its Prime Minister, determines what is right, what is a crime, and who is guilty; there is no need for due rights whether of an individual or a state like Lebanon. Israel alone determines what terrorism is, it alone defies international law and the UN resolutions with impunity, it alone chooses the words that will describe its actions determining for the world community how it is to understand Israel’s actions. And so it is in the Penal Colony. All live in fear of the executioner, both the colonists and the occupied. So long as that fear can be maintained, so long can the Colony survive under its brutal regime. But time catches up with the Penal Colony. An outsider is brought in to witness how it operates and how it executes its “civilized” approach to management of the colony. The witness listens to the detailed explanation of the Officer as he justifies the policies and procedures of the Penal Colony, but he marks the Medieval and barbaric reality of the colony and its treatment of its citizens and those it condemns to execution.

Kafka notes with remarkable insight and wisdom that the state will not change until it accepts its own guilt, until it comprehends that its behavior rests on principles that are corrosive to human kind, blind to the reality of human equality, and self-destructive because built on superstition and fear. Once that recognition comes, the Officer and executioner mounts the torture machine and straps himself in its bed. And as the machine begins to run, the witness watches the spikes inscribe the sentence on his back, “Be Just.”

Evil exists in the delusion that grows from ignorance and alienation, necessary ingredients in a state of demonocracy. Peace is possible when openness proliferates and people remove the barriers that isolate and separate them from each other.

William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Depception: Bush’s Mideast Policy He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU

 

 

 

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William A. Cook’s latest book is Decade of Deceit.

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