Paris, April 7, 2002
You don’t know me. There’s no reason why you should and little cause for you to listen to what somebody like myself may have to say. I don’t imagine you have time to pay attention to views that do not correspond to your own. In fact, I’m convinced that you do not listen to anybody who doesn’t say what you wish to hear.
Should it interest you, I’m a writer born in South Africa now living and working abroad. For some time back there I also grew up among a “chosen people” who behaved as Herrenvolk–as all those who believe themselves singularized by suffering or entrusted with a special mission from God.
I apologize if my comparative allusion to Israel as Herrenvolk hurts because of the echoes from a recent past when, in Europe, so many Jews were the victims of a “final solution.” But how else is one to attempt describing the comportment of your armies when one is flooded by the horror of what you’re doing?
These rough equivalences don’t come lightly. As a writer I’m deeply apprised of the need to keep the words uncluttered of any urge to rouse easy emotions. This is what facile comparisons do–they nullify understanding the complexity of the observed phenomena by a rush of outrage heating the throat and staining the adversary with the vomit of borrowed or vicarious condemnation. Apartheid was not Nazism, though to say so was a striking slogan. And the policies now perpetrated by Israeli forces on the Palestinian people should not be equated with Apartheid. Each one of these processes and systems is evil enough to merit a thorough description of its own historical singularity.
And yet… There are similarities and differences: This blind competition, on both sides, to be recognized as more-victim-than-thou; cloaking atrocities in the “divine” right to self-defense; the shameless manipulation of perceptions and the mendacious lying; the concomitant brutalization of your own society; the disdain shown for the humanity of the Palestinians–indeed, denying even the most elementary humane treatment to a terrified and trapped civilian population…
It is all only too familiar. The underlying assumptions informing your actions are racist. As was the case with the South African regime, the preferred methods by which you hope to subjugate the enemy consist of force and bloodshed and humiliation. Cynically, you think you can get away with this as long as you play up to the supposed vital interests of the United States. I don’t think you really care a Jaffa fig for America’s interests. You probably despise them for being blinded by their own material crassness and their ignorance of the world. True, your used-car-salesman doppelgänger, Netanyahu, deploys this craft of crude propaganda more openly, as if he were a dirty finger tweaking the clitoris of a swooning American public opinion. But you too, by opportunistically echoing the semantically challenged American President (and putting words in his mouth), who describes every “other” as a terrorist, have shown that you take the rest of the world for fools. Surely, not all of us agree that the highest good in the world is America’s greed for cheap oil, and that we should hence be expected to adhere to the inviolability of corrupt regimes in the region!