Thursday, April 16, 2009

Defending the Indefensible: Israel, Gaza, and Idolatry

By Thaddeus J. Kozinsi | Information Clearing House, April 15, 2009

A tell-tale sign of having become the victim of propaganda is the eruption of anger, name-calling, calumny, scapegoating, and insinuations when confronted with facts, ideas, or arguments that pose a threat to the unmasking or refutation of said propaganda. The provocation of such a vehement reaction is itself a deliberate product of the propagandist, for it is the implantation of a built-in, defense mechanism effectively precluding awareness of not only the mendacious character of the propaganda, but also its very existence in the mind of the victim.

The amount, intensity, and sophistication of the propaganda that surrounded, distorted, and cloaked the Israeli attacks on Gaza in December of 2008 is staggering. Nevertheless, some things just cannot be hidden. It is now indisputable for all but the most severely brainwashed or psychopathic that the Israeli attacks on innocent Palestinians in Gaza were gravely immoral. The Vatican condemned Israel’s actions, and so have the vast majority of the countries of the world. What is also indisputable is that the primary cause of the violence in Gaza, as well as virtually all the violence in the Middle East for the past sixty years, was not primitive, home-made “rockets,” pathetic weapons that killed less Israelis in seven years than the state-of-the-art, American-produced “smart bombs” killed in seven days (unconscionable as these rocket attacks were), nor “Islamic terrorists who hate democracy and freedom,” but the unconscionable treatment of Palestinians by the state of Israel since its inception, what can be accurately called ethnic cleansing, apartheid—and even genocide. Cardinal Martino called Gaza a “concentration camp,” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7817019.stm a quite deliberate description, implying that Israel has treated the Palestinians in Gaza in a manner not unlike the Germans’ treatment of the Jews in Warsaw during World War II. As many reputable commentators have insisted, if Israel were willing to observe the pre-1967 borders, a lasting peace with the Palestinian Arabs could be arranged, and quite quickly. However, due to its Zionist/Talmudic ideology of racial superiority and political hegemony, the State of Israel is intractable about its “right” to the entire area of land, that is, its prerogative to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. Any person with even the slightest sense of justice would condemn any regime for deliberately murdering civilians.

Many who criticize Israel’s actions are objecting, not to the existence of a state populated by Jews per se, but only to policies that are immoral and illegal under international law, for Israel has voluntarily agreed to abide by a UN Charter that forbids offensive wars of aggression and interruptions of the peace. America has broken this charter in Iraq, and this fact is also indisputable. Yet, those who make their objections known are often automatically accused of anti-Semitism for merely affirming these facts, facts that cannot be objectively disputed by any rational and good-willed person. Now, one can certainly understand a fanatical, Israeli Zionist defending this kind of unlawful and illegal behavior, for being both bereft of the light of Christ and possessed by a powerful, pernicious ideology that permits acts that no Christian could ever condone, it would make logical sense. However, fact that practicing, otherwise charitable, and otherwise orthodox Christians are defending the indefensible, and demonizing fellow Christians for not doing so, demands an explanation.

What are we to conclude regarding the lack of any criticism whatsoever by certain American Roman Catholics and Protestant Christians of the Israeli regime in its recent attacks on Gaza, even when the Pope himself condemned Israel’s violence, and even when the targeting of homes and hospitals was apparent—due to the courageous Internet reporters—for all to see? It would seem that these Christians have somehow been led to believe that Israel is exempt from all moral criticism. Now, for an Israeli to defend its nation’s actions “right or wrong” can be chalked up to fanatical nationalism, but why would Americans do so, and American Christians for that matter! I think that this disturbing phenomenon can be accounted for, as any disorder can, by sin. In this case, I shall argue, it is the sin of racism. Racism usually connotes the condemnation of a person’s or groups’ actions merely because of the racial identity of the person or group, while completely prescinding from any evaluation of the moral quality of the actions themselves. However, racism is also revealed in reverse, and in this mode it becomes a sort of racist idolatry.

What we are seeing in these Christians is the a priori defense of group’s actions, rendering it immune from the strictures of the universal moral law. Anti-Semite racists immorally condemn the actions of Jewish people regardless of the moral quality of their actions; these Christian racists, however, immorally celebrate, or at least refuse to condemn, immoral actions simply because they are executed by Jews. Both are instances of the sin of racism. (The blog http://suicideofthewest.com/ is an exemplar of this kind of racist and idolatrous thinking among Catholics). These Christians relentlessly defend, with no exceptions, not only the recently Israeli attack on Gaza, but also all of Israeli’s acts of terror and violence beginning with the “Nakba,” the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the pre-Israeli army prior to the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948. As Dr. J. P. Hubert of the excellent blog “Moral Philosophy and Current Events” http://moralphilosophyofcurrentevents.blogspot.com/ has explained, the Nakba marked the beginning of the theft of Palestinian land that continues to this day, with the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the inhumane blockade, and the recent invasion of and massacre in Gaza. Of course, this is not to forget or, God forbid, justify the numerous acts of Palestinian terror here; for, focusing on one group’s acts of terror is not necessarily to exculpate the others. However, based upon these Christians’ assignation of all blame for any violence in the Middle East to Muslims alone, to Hamas and Hezbollah, or to anti-Semitism, that is, to any other group or ideology rather than Israel and Zionism; it is reasonable to conclude that these Christians are thinking as reverse racists, as idolaters.

As long as the actions are conducted in defense or in the name of Israel or Zionism, or any other “special” race, nation, ideology, and religion, such actions are not to be criticized, even if they are obviously morally objectionable according to Christian standards. This is an intolerable position for a Christian to hold, whether consciously or unconsciously. But, instead of recognizing this idolatrous racism in themselves, these Christians automatically assign their own vices to their accusers, to those who manifestly do not think as racists and idolaters. Those Christian rejecters of racism and idolatry, those relatively few practicing, orthodox Christians who have remained immune from the brainwashing campaign of the Israeli and American Zionist propaganda machine are not cowed by threats of being labeled as racists and anti-Semites. Yet it is these courageous Christians who are scapegoated. The question of the origin of this idolatrous racism among a good number of orthodox, conservative Christians, and even traditionalist Catholics, is the topic for another essay. Suffice it to say, it has something to do with the infiltration of neoconservatives into positions of Catholic leadership, such as the late Father Neuhaus, George Weigel, and Michael Novak. In any event, having even the slightest inclination to this kind of racial, idolatrous thinking is supremely dangerous to one’s soul and to the souls of others, and any ideology that either defends it or obscures its existence in one’s mind must be rejected root and branch.

Though Hamas is no innocent victim, for it certainly shares some of the blame in the death of innocent Palestinians by providing the pretext—though, of course, not the justification—for Israel’s grossly disproportionate use of force against them, those siding solely with Israel in the Gaza war, and those who refuse in principle to utter one word of condemnation of the Israeli regime, or any regime, institution, group, or person, for what are manifestly immoral acts, are in principle expressing their perennial loyalty to the victimizers. As Gil Bailie’s and Rene Girard’s pioneering work on the origin and nature of violence reveals (see especially Bailie’s Violence Unveiled and Girard’s The Scapegoat), http://www.aislingmagazine.com/aislingmagazine/articles/TAM26/R. Girard.html being an authentic Christian means, almost more than anything else, being on the side of the victims in all instances of violence. Jesus, being the sacrificial victim par excellence, is the Divine Defender of Victims. Satan, on the other hand, is the demonic defender of victimizers.

Thaddeus J. Kozinski is an Assistant Professor of Humanities and Trivium at Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming. His is the author of The Political Problem of Religious Pluralism: John Rawls, Jacques Maritain, and Alasdair MacIntyre, which is under review for publication by Lexington Press. Dr. Kozinski has authored articles and reviews for Modern Age, Telos, Culture Wars, Catholic Social Science Review, The Review of Metaphysics, Political Science Reviewer, Life and Learning, Latin Mass: The Journal of Catholic Culture and Tradition, and New Oxford Review. His current research interests include the thought of Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor, the political culture of secular liberal democracy, and political theology.

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