No Exit Nothing (Israel-Gaza)

About Israel and Gaza, at first, when the fighting starts, there’s a lot to say. My initial attempts to get a handle on things had to do with “perspective” and “sympathy.” But the more and more anyone follows this story, the more one gets sucked into the empty language of “enmity” and “solidarity,” which means…nothing, no perspective, no sympathy, nothing really to say.

It could be that the speed at which this happens has a lot to do with offline and online media. The information moves so quickly, the rhetorical positions get staked out instantaneously, and then you’re just left with a sick feeling in your  stomach, with nothing intelligent or useful to say.

The more and more you get sucked into this “event,” the more you try to talk about it, there’s less and less space to think and to breathe. It’s profound dumbness, both the situation itself and the discourse about it from both sides of the political fence, as well as from the perspective of those who try to straddle the fence. There will be either a cease fire or an escalation, and then a cease fire, and then, sometime in the future another round and so on and so on, a new set of “logics” imposed on the situation, and then more empty enmity and more empty solidarity.

I might stop posting about Israel and Gaza, which means that I might stop posting at JPP for a while, since, unfortunately, I can think of nothing else these days. It just may well be that for perspective, I think it’s time for the United States and Egypt to impose, what, a ceasefire, a long term truce, a comprehensive agreement that might end the occupation and secure a “decent” peace, if not a “perfect” one.

I’m thinking one thing, though. “Sympathy” for either side of this conflict is probably the vainest thing of all. Watch how dried out the sympathy gets in the next round. On this side of the ocean, already you get the sense that most people don’t really care at all anymore.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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4 Responses to No Exit Nothing (Israel-Gaza)

  1. That is what fear does to one, Voids all thought of empathy. I think that is a great deal needed right now. I think we need to care more.

  2. sarah - jerusalem says:

    Actually, I have a lot of sympathy…but not for the governing bodies involved; not for Hamas or its Iranian/Qatari/Saudi deep-pocket agenda-driven sponsors; not for the Israeli government which has repeatedly chosen to ignore the PA and Hamas until something blows up and urgent and half-assed damage control is needed; not for the EU, which utters platitudes while funding anti-Israel programs but then hypocritically assent to Israel defending itself against the very evil it has funded; not the feckless US which has adventured all through the Middle East in a swath of destruction in the last decades…, my sympathy is entirely for the ordinary men and women,and their children, who have to suffer death and destruction visited upon them by policies made by others, on both sides of the border fences, Palestinians and Israelis both.

    • zjb says:

      Thanks so much, Sarah, I’m with you 99% about Israel, Gaza, Palestine and sympathy. But a little nagging part of me is beginning to think that maybe if the sympathy dried out even for the ordinary people who deserve it, who are owed it, that things might actually improve. I’m very in the dark here, politically and morally. Wishing you and all peace and happiness.

  3. efmooney says:

    I agree; the rhetoric and realities take one’s breath away. One ends with a vague and infantile hope that a Clinton — or SOMEONE — can fix it, even as it spins wildly out of control, like a knives-drawn street fight one unexpectedly comes upon, and a crowd gathers, helplessly, maybe calls 911, and then each goes her or his way, fleeing the scream in the heart, yet knowing there’s no one to pick up the phone at 911.
    Don’t leave, though, Zak; even saying there’s nothing to say is saying something.

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