By Rady Ananda
Yesterday, Israel added to its war crimes by attacking a Gaza humanitarian aid ship in international waters. Twenty people are reported dead, and the remaining 700 passengers abducted. Today, on Memorial Day, many of us pause to remember those who died in the cause of social justice, rather than imperial aims. One of those fallen heroes is Rachel Corrie (1979-2003), who has become an international icon for the horrific and ongoing genocide being perpetrated on Palestine by Israel.
Corrie died in Gaza on March 16, 2003 while trying to prevent the genocidal tactic of bulldozing civilian homes.
Just weeks before her murder on March 16th, she wrote to her father:
“Coming here is one of the better things I’ve ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.”
Two days before her murder, she gave this interview to the Middle East Broadcasting Company where she details more genocidal tactics, like bombing the civilian water supply:
In 1996, Gregory H. Stanton (now of Genocide Watch) created a working definition of genocide for the US State Department. That resulted in his 7 Stages of Genocide. He explains that the “first stages precede later stages, but continue to operate throughout the genocidal process.”
* Classification (us vs. them);
* Symbolization (e.g. black fist);
* Dehumanization (use of hate speech, nonhuman name-calling);
* Organization (the target is always a collective group that is treated as a criminal class, nowadays often labeled “terrorist” organizations);
* Polarization (use of extreme, inflammatory language to isolate moderates);
* Identification (segregate the targeted population physically or by use of identifying features on national identity cards); and
* Extermination (build camps, stockpile weapons, give the order).
In an April 2010 speech, Stanton added an eighth stage, “which is always a part of the genocidal process: Denial.”
Pathocracy in Action
Indeed, after the Israeli attack yesterday on the flotilla which carried 700 passengers from 50 nations and 10,000 tons of food, medicine, water and other essentials:
“Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon blamed the victim … saying the activists themselves were responsible for the massacre and branding them allies of international terrorist organizations,” reported Tehran Times.
Psychopaths are “extremely skilled at rationalizing their behavior, often seeing themselves as the victims (and blaming their real victims),” writes Andrew M. Lobaczewski, author of Political Ponerology.
It is to our benefit to understand the actions of Israel in terms of ‘ponerology’ or, the study of evil. Lobaczewski explains:
“Ponerology describes the genesis, existence, and spread of the macrosocial disease called evil. Its causes are traceable and can be repeatedly observed and analyzed. When humanity manages to incorporate this knowledge into its natural worldview, it will have defensive potential as yet unrealized.”
He explains that “evil can manifest on any societal level. The greater the scope of the psychopath’s influence, the greater harm done. Thus any group of humans can be infected or ‘ponerized’ by their influence. From families, clubs, churches, businesses, and corporations, to entire nations. The most extreme form of such macrosocial evil is called ‘pathocracy.’”
In describing some of the ways that a psychopath or a pathocracy can infect a population, he writes of the Israeli occupation of Gaza:
“When determining the morality of the occupation of Palestine, many reject that the Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in the Nabka of 1948. Accepting this datum would lead to a correct, albeit disturbing, conclusion regarding the morality of Israeli military occupation…. In the case of Palestine, some groups have convinced themselves that there is no such thing as a Palestinian: Palestine was empty when the Jews found it, they say.”
It must be noted that Stanton rejects the use of the term ‘ethnic cleansing.’ He considers it part of the dehumanization stage of genocide. It is as euphemistic as the term ‘kiddie porn’ when discussing child rape and torture.
As each stage of genocide manifests, preventive techniques can be employed. Stanton suggests, for example, that race, religion and ethnicity labels be removed from identity papers. More obviously, when an authoritative body like the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict issues a finding of genocide, “PROSECUTE IT!” Stanton bellowed.
The sane and compassionate bulk of humanity mourns the loss of Rachel Corrie, along with the tens of thousands of lives, including the twenty new people, whom Israel has murdered.
Rachel Corrie 5th Grade Speech I’m here because I care:
The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has created an action page where you can contact the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to demand that U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice vote to support a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s action and initiating an investigation.
To learn of other social justice heros, see my 2008 piece, A Memorial Day for the Civically Engaged.