Thursday, November 9, 2023


- I can't understand how you can be here, a University, a place of civilization, demonstrating in favor of barbarians, celebrating people who proudly, joyfully torture and kill children.
- We're demonstrating in favor of peace.
- Then you condemn the Hamas' torture and killing of children?
- Israel is committing genocide against Palestinian people. Occupying their land.
- How can there be a genocide when the population is increasing every year? There isn't a single Jew in Gaza or the PA, how can they be occupiers?
- The Palestinians are oppressed by Israel, an apartheid state that denies them human rights.
- Arabs in Israel have the same rights as Jews.
- One side uses violence, the other side uses violence. We're calling for a cease fire.
- To end attacks on its people Israel needs to win the war with Hamas.
- Israel's killing is disproportionate. It has to be stopped.
- A proportionate response is what is required by the rules of a feud. There's a difference between act of violence in response to act of violence - a feud, cycle of violence - and one state's defending itself from the violent intentions of another state in a war: wars end with the enemy entirely dead or disarmed.
- Are you Jewish?
- Yes.
- I have to go. Best of luck in dealing with your confusion.

This conversation took place this afternoon up at UCLA at the pro-Palestinian rally. Chants of "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" could be heard, which is a coded way of saying, as Israel is located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the eradication of the State of Israel. For most of my short conversation with the student he had a self-satisfied smirk on his face. He obviously had had this conversation many times before and had the terms of his answers laid out in advance: apartheid, occupation, genocide, proportionality. He was bored, we can picture him asking himself, what's so special about tortured and killed children? What is required to become bored with the subject of child torture and murder (abduction too, we've failed to mention)? First, most obviously, failure to make a distinction between those who can and cannot leave a state whose violence they don't agree with; the elderly, disabled, and children cannot. But children are a special case within this class of those who cannot agree to participate in group violence. In addition to not having the power to leave they also cannot want to participate in group violence. Their characteristic act of play requires there be behind it a reality of security and love which real violence undermines. To find child torture and killing and abduction something to smile about requires not being able to remember what play is, what it is to be outside the responsibility of social participation, the removal which creates room to play in for the child. Without play, to be constantly subject to social demands, leaves our UCLA terrorist approving student without imagination, individuality, and any respect for the truth; truth, imagination, individuality having no value for someone who never must question the claims and demands of the group that forms his identity. Torture, kill, abduct babies? Why not, these actions, done according to group demands, disconnected with self, are reduced to the security of obedience and mere words, the terms of instruction.


Further Reading: