Is it possible to prevent a catastrophe like Gaza so that it cannot happen again, or is such brutal killing an inevitable part of our human heritage? In the age of the internet public this question bears a new quality. The public is the strongest weapon against violence, today more than ever. A recent example is the Free Gaza Movement who landed the first free boats in Gaza in forty-one years. It was the media attention and the mental accompaniment of thousands of supporters worldwide that led to the pioneering success of this determined group. Thus, the Free Gaza boats mark a precedent for similar liberating action. Only, is the world prepared for peace, at all?
Are We Prepared for Peace?
Let's be clear about this: if the world was prepared for peace, Gaza could not have happened. Too extreme have been the effects on the people of Gaza and Palestine. On the other hand, many people in the world woke up now, realizing the current condition of world politics, shocked, willing to learn. If there is anything we can do for the victims of Gaza then it is to take this chance and to revisit some stations of our recent history.
Crucial today is the axiom "Nazi Germany could only be stopped with deadly violence", because it structures our minds and affirms to us that enemies must be killed. We are not really aware of our supporting death as can be derived from our favorite movies where the heros usually are killers. The analysis of the axiom above fills volumes, some are written, some are not. Now after Gaza we can write another volume.
Our thinking revolves so much around fears that we tend to marginalize clues to a nonkilling society. Did you know, for example, that it took the German public more than twenty years to discuss the Nazi era in public? Twenty years. During this time the official relations between Israel and Germany had been spookily good (apart from an assasination attempt on Adenauer which was played down). Israel had in large parts ethnically cleansed Palestine in that crucial time of silence. Why did the Nazis do all that? How can a human being be able to justify millions of dead? The questions were there, but without adequate consequences, which raises the following question: is it possible that a traumatized person (or society), who cannot understand why his or her perpetrator did what they did, in his agony tries out the role of the perpetrator himself, just to understand more about the original situation of his trauma?
The Americans also had these questions, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and many still believe that killing more than 200.000 innocent people was worth it. Stopping the war. But did the war really stop? Are not the wars and state raids of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries manifestations of the fact that the war did not really stop in 1945 but only transformed? Gaza showed again that the leading West tolerates mass killings. Or does it not?
So let's conclude that one of the main reasons that Gaza could happen is that in our cultural environments we tend to accept killing, as long as it is for the good cause. This is quite equal in the East and in the militarily powerful West.
Top-Down Info Gone Wrong
The second main reason why this high-tech attack on the Gaza population was possible lies in top-down info gone wrong. Media and western politicians have fantasized about a war between two parties where in reality there was a one-sided slaughtering going on. Israel against Hamas - that's a fantasy. Before Hamas, exactly the same arguments were used for the PLO and after Hamas it will be someone else. Let us not forget Israel's zeal to bomb Iraq, the "ultimate evil". And as soon as Saddam was gone Iran became the ultimate evil. And who would dare to suggest that after Iran this will stop?
Obviously, the Gaza massacre had little to do with Hamas, and much more with the eternal enemy in his changing suits. The eternal enemy that you can only deal with in the form of an ultimate fight. In this delusion there is no room for peace. The world knows that Israel can never be secure and pacified under these conditions, and Palestine, neither. But still the world does not tell the whole truth. Most western media sell the massacre as a defensive act which is ridiculous, because Israel is in bigger problems now than ever. A great deal of media and government officials do not say that it was clearly Israel who broke the truce. They know better, but from their understanding of responsibility they choose to manipulate the facts.
Background is that negative publicity of Israel in countries like Germany raises fears of anti-Jewish resentments. But while every child can see that lying cannot be the solution, "responsible" people still do it, because firstly, they don't understand that it is wrong, and secondly, it has always been like that.
When after World War I. Germany was a loser state, officials and media did not want to tell their people that they failed. So they invented a stab-in-the-back legend accusing the reds of oppositional action that served as a stab in the back of the nation. This lie helped the Nazis to take control, because people believed it and they were incited instead of realizing the true horror of World War I. In the Gulf of Tonkin incident of 1964, the USA claimed to have been attacked by North Vietnam and launched a large-scale war. But there was no attack, just as Poland did not attack Germany in 1939. Lies. Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. A lie. We do not know about September 11, because there has been no proper investigation.
As a public we tolerate these lies and do not expect that the responsible people are brought to justice. No impeachment trial against George W. then and impunity later, this is what the world did with liar and killer George. It cannot be security reasons that make us tolerate state lying and state killing, because these things do not secure us from anything. It is group behavior.
We learn group behavior in our families and in our schools. The rate of violence against children is still enormous, despite Alice Miller's insights. We grow up with authorities around us who do in the small what the generals do in the big. This is why we have been paralyzed: we have been embedded. Time to "exbed".
If we really want to prevent atrocities like Gaza, nothing less than a global cultural transformation into nonkilling societies is needed. This transformation starts with individuals like Professor Glenn Paige in Hawaii whose book "Nonkilling Global Political Science" (complete manuscript online) shows the "lethal tradition" from Aristotle to Weber and poses the intriguing question: are nonkilling societies possible and how can we realize them?
There are top-down as well as bottom-up mechanisms of nonviolence. We find inspired leaders in the world and also effective grassroot action. Now is the time for nonviolent transformation. It concurs with the values of both secular and religious trends. We have a new global public and new evidence. We have a popular slogan going around in the world, "Yes We Can". And we all agree that we do not want another Gaza.
Anis Hamadeh is a freelance artist and publicist in Germany, editor of Anis Online, and in the FreeGaza.org Web & Media Team. Also search for his "Deutschland Essay".