Gaza and the genocide of intelligence

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By FLAVIO AGUIAR*

If the traditional Brazilian media is full of mongrels subservient to the empire, the German media turned out to be full of sheepdogs ready to growl and bite in the name of impunity for any Israeli government.

"Muera la intelligencia! Long live the death!"
(phrase attributed to Falangist General José Millán-Astray y Terreros, on the occasion of “Dia de la Raza”, October 12, 1936, before the rector of the University of Salamanca, Miguel de Unamuno).

Much is being debated and will be debated about the statement by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva calling “genocide” what the Israeli government and armed forces have been doing in the Gaza Strip in relation to the Palestinian people and equating this action with what Hitler did to the Jews during the Nazi regime. The right-wingers condemn the president's speech. The left supports the president's speech. I would like to say that I place myself in this field and in this agreement. And I would also like to say that this does not stop me from considering the attack promoted by Hamas against Israeli civilians on October 7th an abominable terrorist act, and in the same way that my agreement does not make me an anti-Semite, just as President Lula is not an anti-Semite.

That said, let's move on to what I intend to cover in this article. Along with the genocide promoted by the Israeli government in relation to the Palestinian people in Gaza, as a result of its policy of apartheid aggravated by the ultra-right government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, there is a true intelligence genocide taking place around this situation, with some of the arguments thrown into the debate arena.

This second genocide begins with the denial that Benjamin Netanyahu's government is committing the first. Of course: there is a legal discussion about the application of this concept to this case; I leave it to the competent court, that is, the Court of The Hague, where the matter was deposited by the South African government, with due support from the Brazilian government, as well as others.

There is, however, an ethical issue linked to the concept of genocide. For me, in the Nazi case, the genocide of the Jewish people began before the Holocaust itself. It began when the Nazis denied the Jewish people recognition of their human condition. They began to treat him as an object, rather than a subject. Objects have no rights; are treated according to the convenience of whoever owns or manages them. They can be maintained, moved, destroyed in whole or in part according to that convenience.

Objects can be living, like a herd of animals. It is the owner or administrator who decides whether the herd eats, what it eats, drinks, when it eats and drinks, or whether it is deprived of these and other benefits such as electricity, medicine and shelter, whether it should change pastures and, ultimately, whether must be eliminated. Sometimes this extreme measure can be used if a threatening virus takes over the flock or part of it, as in the case of foot and mouth disease or bird flu.

This is how the Israeli government and military have treated the Palestinians. Hamas is seen as a virus; it is necessary to eliminate it. If a few parts of the herd have to be eliminated to eliminate the virus, so be it. Like Hitler in relation to the Jews in the past, the Tel Aviv authorities have been treating the Palestinians in this way, refusing to recognize their human condition, which is the first step towards genocide. Denying the existence of this denial is an attack on intelligence.

Let's move on to another attack. A video went viral showing a Bolsonaro lady on Avenida Paulista, with a look of few friends, stating that she supports Israel “because they are Christians like us”, or something similar. Just saying: by the beard of the Prophet, and of Christ too! Holy Ignorance! The curious thing is that behind a statement as idiotic as this there may lie an anti-Semitic emphasis, as it denies Jews their most characteristic form of religiosity. And it is known that a version of this evil evangelism preaches that one of the signs of the “end times”, or the “Final Judgment”, will be the passive conversion of the Jews to Christianity! Better or worse anti-Semitism is impossible.

But there is a counterpart to this stupidity, and more on this side than there. I have often read that evangelicals are stupid in defending the Jews, because not only are they not Christians, but they “preferred Barabbas to Christ”! This is an entirely literal reading of the New Testament, taking it as an almost journalistic source of historical facts rather than a doctrinal narrative. So far goes the right to choice on the part of those who read such texts. It turns out that underlying this version, applied to today's context, is the idea that Jews – all Jews – are “the murderers of Christ”. This was one of the strongest bases of medieval and Renaissance anti-Semitism, which was based on religion; Jews were considered an “inferior race”, not worthy of the human condition, only from the end of the 19th century.

Another fallacy that follows this same path is that every Zionist is necessarily a fascist, racist, colonialist. There is no doubt that many are like this; nor that Zionism today has been appropriated by a right wing of the worst kind, just as the Canarinho t-shirt and the Brazilian flag were appropriated by galloping Bolsonarism until recently. But historically, Zionism attracted many people on the left who saw in the kibbutz the embryo of a socialist society. Many went there and returned disappointed to their homelands. Others stayed there and lived their beliefs to the end, some, and not a few, striving to create common movements of Palestinians and Jews in favor of an anti-Jewish society.apartheid.

Let's move on. Israel Katz, Tel Aviv's Minister of Foreign Affairs committed diplomatic genocide by trying to humiliate the Brazilian ambassador by calling him to the Holocaust Museum to give him a lecture in Hebrew, in front of the press and without an interpreter, after President Lula's statement . This doesn't happen. It's more than a breach of protocol; It is a personal insult to the diplomat and a collective insult to the people he represents. And he committed a new diplomatic genocide by publicizing scenes from the Bolsonarist demonstration in São Paulo saying that “no one (read President Lula) would separate the two peoples”.

Now let's get to the heart of the matter. The allegation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli government, and the Israeli secret services, police and military that they were “unaware” of Hamas’ plans for the terrorist action on October 7th is an insult to intelligence. This action was planned for months; the Egyptian secret service detected such preparation and claims that it notified Tel Aviv, which denies having received such a report.

Whatever the angle of approach, the attack on intelligence is serious. How could a secret service that infiltrates wherever it wants, that murders or kidnaps whoever it wants and whenever it wants, with impunity, not realize that something was being prepared? Maybe because I've read too many John Le Carré novels, I find this impossible. If it happened, the negligence was criminal.

If the secret service noticed something and didn't act accordingly, or didn't alert the government, the crime gets worse. If you warned, the crime now involves the government, and becomes heinous, as they underestimated what Hamas could do. There is even a worse, more hideous suspicion: they let it happen, making a mistake in calculating what would be done. The fact is that Hamas' action gave new impetus to Netanyahu's embattled government and his fierce far right. This government now depends on the extent of this carnage they call “war”.

To finish, I must take a walk around Germany. There was already strong intolerance in the country due to the war in Ukraine. For many people and a large part of the media, criticizing Volodymyr Zelensky, the Nazis entrenched in the Ukrainian armed forces, or asking for peace were gestures of automatic support for the Russian invasion and Vladimir Putin. The Hamas attack and the Israeli carnage in Gaza made the situation worse.

There is a law approved in the Federal Parliament that considers the defense of Israel a German “Rason of State”. This true retaining wall provoked a series of censorship and coercive attitudes against artists and intellectuals – including many Jews – who stood up in favor of Palestinian rights, the ceasefire, peace, denouncing the disproportionate violence mobilized against the inhabitants. of the Gaza Strip and the illegally occupied and colonized West Bank. Exhibitions and awards were cancelled, invitations were suspended and a heavy atmosphere was created against pro-Palestinian public demonstrations. It seems that defending the Palestinians is automatically defending Hamas.

The latest instance of this intolerance hit the Berlin International Film Festival, the Berlinale. There were several demonstrations for the ceasefire, peace and Palestinian rights. The documentary In the Other Land, directed eight times by a collective of two Palestinians, one and one Israeli, was the winner in this category. In their speeches, two of the filmmakers, Palestinian Basel Adra and Israeli Yuval Abraham, representing the collective, criticized the actions of the Israeli government.

Such demonstrations and the award for the documentary triggered a devastating tsunami of criticism of the festival in the German media and political circles. There is talk of curbing this type of manifestation, and changing the status of the festival (which, if it happens, will suffocate and undermine the Berlinale). A politician from the conservative camp even suggested that someone should have interrupted such speeches immediately, silencing the speakers.

If the traditional Brazilian media is full of mongrels subservient to the empire, the German media turned out to be full of sheepdogs ready to growl and bite in the name of impunity for any Israeli government. There are those who explain this ardor by arguing that the existence of Israel creates a feeling of absolution in new generations in relation to what their ancestors did to the Jews. Thus, anything that defiles such a reliquary is perceived as a serious psychological threat. There are those who are more pragmatic and see this as just the desire to please the establishment and preserve funds to support cultural or advertising events, etc. Perhaps both orders of reasons are valid. Go find out.

But the note of honor for such harm to intelligence was due to the Minister of Culture, the green and usually progressive Claudia Roth. Cornered by criticism directed at her in the media for having applauded those winning filmmakers, she claimed that, in fact, she had only applauded the Israeli, not the Palestinian. It remains unclear how she managed to perform the feat of applauding only half of something. Well, maybe she applauded with one hand.

* Flavio Aguiar, journalist and writer, is a retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Chronicles of the World Upside Down (boitempo). [https://amzn.to/48UDikx]


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