CSotD: The Abyss Also Gazas Back

“Whoever fights with monsters should see to it that he does not become a monster in the process. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.” — Friedrich Nietzche

Both Nietzche and Joe Heller offer symbolic analogies; Heller’s is harder to misinterpret, but neither makes it easy to answer the question of “How did we get into this position?”

We’ve been volunteering to fight monsters since the days when McKinley — with the encouragement of Joseph Pulitzer and others — began railing against Spain for its treatment of Cuba.

Possibly earlier, if you count our crusade to help liberate the Tejanos and a whole bunch of other people from Mexico.

But at least you can look at Puerto Rico and Guam and a whole big chunk of nine current US states and see what we got out of it. As the Pirate King said to Frederick, “I don’t think much of our profession, but, contrasted with respectability, it is comparatively honest.”

It’s perfectly respectable to arm and assist our allies against invasion and terrorism, as long as we don’t fall for lies about babies in Kuwaiti hospitals. Or lies about non-existent biological weapons.

In the current crisis in Gaza, there’s no reason to doubt the authenticity of the Hamas attacks that kicked things off, but there’s plenty of cause to question burning down the barn to get rid of rats, and to wonder if maybe someone was hoping for an excuse to get rid of the old structure.

It’s one thing to suggest that foreigners who object to burning down the barn are in favor of rats and hate farmers, but Lectrr suggests that Netanyahu and his supporters have been applying the concept too broadly, given the demonstrations in his own country.

“The Israelis are taking to the streets”
“They are all Antisemites!”

Fiona Katauskas offers a more narrowly focused criticism of Netanyahu’s dogmatic approach, not only questioning IDF tactics in Gaza but questioning the outcome of Bibi’s approach.

I observed early in the conflict that treating all Palestinians as members of Hamas reminded me of when all Irish Catholics in Ulster were assumed to be IRA. In that case, it wasn’t true at the start, but the sledgehammer treatment caused many in the Catholic ghetto to take sides with “our lads” at least to the level of non-cooperation, if not active resistance or even joining the militants.

I can’t see why Gazans would not behave in the same way. I had friends burned out of their home by Unionist mobs and know of others mistreated by Loyalist police and can only wonder at the impact of having entire Gazan neighborhoods destroyed and people shot in the street while bearing white flags.

It took 12 years for the British government to conclude that the shootings on Bloody Sunday were unjustified, and I don’t think the Gazans or any other Palestinians will want to sit quietly waiting that long for a verdict on the current actions.

Use by cartoonists of Tank Man confronting Chinese forces in the midst of the Tianneman Square standoff is often criticized for neglecting the outcome, for ignoring the fact that his brave stance was futile and thousands were slaughtered despite that shining moment.

I do not, however, think that Martyn Turner has any doubts about the efficacy of the International Court of Justice’s stance in the face of the Israeli Defense Force.

Mike Stokoe does make a critical point, which is that whatever the shortcomings and horrors of the IDF’s approach, we haven’t heard Hamas call for peace either. There are rumors of a hostages-for-prisoners swap, but even those hopes include only a six-week cease fire. And Netanyahu is reportedly not on board even with that, though Hamas is apparently willing to consider it.

Ben Jennings accuses Israel of not wanting peace, and of snuffing out any feelers that may emerge. It’s a harsh charge, but note that he identifies the soldier with an Israeli flag rather than a Mogen David, and, combined with the military gear, this is clearly criticism of the government and army, not the religion or its adherents.

Meanwhile, Kal Kallaugher (Counterpoint) notes that our tradition of standing behind Israel diplomatically carries somewhat the same risk as Uncle Sam standing behind the IDF soldier literally, and that we are being identified with Israel’s actions in Gaza to our international detriment.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Tjeerd Royaards — Cartoon Movement

Cathy Wilcox

If it were only speeches, there might be little damage to our standing in the world. But, as Royaards notes, there has been a halt to funding of the United Nations aid programs in Gaza because 12 of UNRWA’s 13,000 employees were reportedly tied to the Oct 7 attacks, but shipments of weaponry have not been halted regardless of how they are put to use.

That green sign acknowledges US pleas for moderation, contrasting them with the swift clampdown by Western nations on the relief organization.

Wilcox is far less interested in symbolic commentary and simply depicts Biden saying out loud the words she feels are implied by US policy.

Juxtaposition of the Day #2

John Deering — Creators

Gary Varvel — Creators

Deering addresses the overall issues in the Middle East, as Republicans press Biden to respond more quickly, decisively and forcefully to a drone strike in Jordan that killed three US soldiers.

GOP hawks want a direct strike on Iran, the sponsor of the militants who staged the attack, but, as Deering suggests, the dangers of a full military response include opening another major war in the region.

Meanwhile, Varvel accuses Biden of being sad but otherwise unresponsive to the deaths of American troops.

It’s worth noting that Biden’s conversation with the family of one victim was warmly, gratefully received by them, and we haven’t heard that the other families objected to whatever he told them.

He didn’t say that those who die in battle are suckers or losers, for instance, even if he is not in a hurry to add to their numbers.

But never mind. As Sharon Murdoch points out, whatever those numbers mean, they don’t mean us.

If you don’t like the news, change the channel. As Tjeerd Royaards notes, it’s just about some other people, far away in another part of the world.

5 thoughts on “CSotD: The Abyss Also Gazas Back

  1. As Mike repeatedly points out, Phil Ochs is still a pertinent and potent voice.

    The cartoons are all pertinent, but don’t include the causal fact that the current violence is the boiling over of Centuries of high heat applied to the Middle East conflict. You can’t easily change strident minds on either side that are locked into a culture war. (I think and hope that is one valid both-sides-ism).

    We say: Peace does not come from externally applied force. It must be nurtured and develop in the hearts and minds of those involved.

  2. The problem with the “burning down the barn to get rid of the rats” analogy is that it’s not Israel’s barn, and they clearly don’t care if not everyone who lives in it is a rat.

    1. So if all the cows and horses and sheep and chickens etc get burned up as well, too bad for them. Israel certainly doesn’t see it as any big loss, and frankly neither does the US.

  3. There’s a lot to say on this. But I think I will begin with the opening. Nietzche posits good battling evil and acquiring taint by doing so. Things don’t quite work that way on the national level. When Hamas did what it did most Israelis were appropriately appalled. But there is a small contingent that looked at it and said “Oh? These are the rules of engagement now? OK.” And that’s what feeds the monster and grows the monster. And although the adherents of this position represent a small splinter of the Israeli body politic, their support is critical to Bibi’s coalition, so he appeases them, often over the majority. I think Lectrr grasps this well and it informs his cartoon.

    The other problem is that October 7th was a breakout of Iranian aggression through Hamas as a proxy. Iran (which has also been working closely with Putin) understands well that an attack on Israel is an extremely good way to rive western unity. To understand it as being about “Palestinian Liberation” is to lose sight of the fact that any such war results in NATO countries picking sides and rooting against each other’s chosen teams. It because the West is obsessed with this conflict in a way that it is with no other, Putin has cover to do as he pleases without the gaze of western media upon him.

  4. A friend sent me this and I found it interesting. I actually don’t find any of the cartoons really speak to the issues I find important in the Israel/Gaza onslaught. Where are the cartoons unmasking the hypocrisy and double standards, the Islamophobia and racism? Where is the centring of the long dispossession of the Palestinian people, and their plight under an apartheid, colonial regime?

    There are a lot of memes lampooning this on Instagram. One of the best is not even Palestinian (she’s Canadian): @elise_gravel , a children’s book author/illustrator. Her cartoons are informative and political.

    Maybe more diversity required?

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