By Chris Hedges
War creates a world without empathy. Those who have empathy cannot, as did Palestinian gunman Alaa Hisham Abu Dheim, coldly murder students in a Jerusalem library. Those who have empathy cannot drop tons of iron fragmentation bombs on crowded Palestinian refugee camps in Gaza, killing more than 120 Palestinians in a week, of whom one in five were children and more than half were civilians. Those who have empathy do not, as Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai did, thunder at the Palestinians that they face a shoah, meaning catastrophe or holocaust. Those with empathy are unable to rejoice, as many leaders of Hamas did, over slaughter, as if the murder of the other’s innocents is justified by the murder of your innocents.
We live in a world, at home and in the Middle East, hardened and distorted by hate. We communicate in the language of fear and violence. Human beings are no longer viewed as human beings. They are no longer endowed in our eyes, or the eyes of those who oppose us, with human qualities. They do no love, grieve, suffer, laugh or weep. They represent cold abstractions of evil. The death-for-death means we communicate by producing corpses. And we are all guilty, Americans, Palestinians, Iraqis and Israelis. But we are not all guilty equally.
Israel and the United States bear the responsibility for a world that has unleashed twisted killers such as Abu Dheim. It is the decades of repression in Gaza, as well as the callous occupation in Iraq, that has bequeathed to us a new generation of jihadists and gunmen who walk into yeshivas and spray automatic fire at people bent over books. For as the poet W.H. Auden pointed out: