News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Humiliation, Eye Splinters, Disproportion and Death

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Humiliation, Eye Splinters, Disproportion and Death

One of the more embarrassing moments of my childhood was the time I was at YMCA camp. In a conversation with a black cabin mate I mentioned something about welfare. I do not remember my exact words, but I do remember how angry he got and that his anger was directed at the notion that he or his family had received some type of free ride to the camp, some hand out that his family had not earned. As we discussed this, I became aware of what pride means and how others can be shamed by pity.

I think about that today as I see the images of Israel destroying Lebanon's roads, airport, business district, villages and villagers. ...

In a report on Canadian radio last night, a Lebanese relief worker described how he and his fellow workers are coping with the destruction raining down on his countrymen. Within his report, he stated that supplies were being apportioned by local leaders on a type of patronage system. That is, he said that depending on the type of influence that the leader wished to maintain and deal out, the leader gave aid to those in need.

I was certainly struck by the disparity and injustice in this story. As I am sure that it would strike many Americans, the use of relief supplies to enhance one's power and prestige is blatantly wrong; in some circumstances, I'd even consider it evil, especially those situations where life and death were at issue.

Of course, Americans--myself included--are often quick to judge others about their practices, easily forgetting similar circumstances and situations that take place on US soil. I think of the way that much funding and repair money was spent and is being doled out in New Orleans in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Yes, it is easy to see the splinter in another's eye...

These things circle around a central impression I've been thinking about for a few days. Since my thoughts are filled with images of Lebanon Apocalypse, much that I imagine and feel relates to that event. What strikes me as pertinent to what has been termed Israel's disproportionate response to the capture of two of its soldiers by Hezbollah is this very idea of patronage.

Let me clarify. Many statements coming out of Israel and in the press reflect thinking that there is some form of communal punishment going on in the Israeli invasion. That is, Israel is hoping to spur Lebanese citizens to rise up against Hezbollah and kill or expel them because the Lebanese want the pain from Israeli bombs to stop.

I happen to agree with this interpretation of Israel's behavior. The aspect that I think needs to be added is that the punishment is meant not only to behaviorally elicit a response but also a plan to humiliate the Lebanese population. This humiliation comes in the form of destroying and laying waste all that the Lebanese have built and achieved since the Israelis left southern Lebanon.

This humiliation also involves patronage. That is, Israelis are driving home to the Lebanese where the true source of economic well-being and resources come from. If you take from Iran or Syria, the message goes, you will die. remember that much of the economic prosperity comes by way of the west, especially America. Destroying your country is our way of showing you that what we (and our friends) give we also can take away.

Take away unto death.

Update 1 Juan Cole quotes news reports:

' According to retired Israeli army Col. Gal Luft, the goal of the campaign is to "create a rift between the Lebanese population and Hezbollah supporters." The message to Lebanon's elite, he said, is this: "If you want your air conditioning to work and if you want to be able to fly to Paris for shopping, you must pull your head out of the sand and take action toward shutting down Hezbollah-land." ' [my emphasis]
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2 comments:

Bob Higgins said...

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on my site at Worldwide Sawdust
Please review my site and consider linking back to me.

Thanks

Bob Higgins
Worldwide Sawdust

the cynic librarian said...

Thanks Bob, I have added your blog to the roll.