OPINIONS

Thu 22 Feb 2024 3:17 pm - Jerusalem Time

Gaza dehumanizes us

By Fifi ABOU DIB

Soon 30,000 dead, but the number is nothing, is no longer anything. It is a moving machine that blindly razes everything that obstructs its passage. There is nothing, or nothing more, human at his command, and the living are indifferent to him. Death is a contagion. It does not only win the bodies of those it carries away. She sucks in the hearts of those she has horrified. Once, twice, ten times we cry over images. There is this déjà vu that obsesses us. We know what this suffering means. That of childless mothers, dismembered children, disabled people for life to whom life will not do any favors. The suffering of starvation and cold. Kids who collect handfuls of sand mixed with a little flour and stuff them in their pockets, miserable pittance. There comes a time when the tears run out, the interest fades. Anger and the impulse to act give way to resignation. There would therefore be an inevitability of human monstrosity.

Civilization is at best a myth, at worst a pretension. During the Great War, ninety-three German celebrities published an “Appeal to the Civilized World” to whitewash the Germany of William II of the atrocities of its armies in Belgium and France. “Without our militarism, our civilization would have been destroyed long ago,” the petition read. The paradox mentioned had no other effect than to add an intellectual debacle to the moral debacle of the empire. At that time, illustrators peppered newspapers with drawings based on the stories of displaced people who sought refuge in towns and villages still spared by the fighting. A few pencil lines showing two armed troops and a dislocated child, with the caption "He was seven years old", were enough to convey all the horror of the advance of the troops, burning, stealing, raping, pillaging, crushing everything on their path.

For a long time, and still today, explicit images were banned in the media which prided themselves on this self-censorship as a form of elegance towards their readers and spectators. We took into account image rights and respect for the dead. When an attack took place in England, France or Spain, you were barely shown an ambulance parked in front of a nondescript place, surrounded by a security cordon. The social media regulator, for its part, gives a modestly veiled image with the option of seeing it or not accompanied by the “graphic content” warning. And still you tap on this eye icon. Not even hurt ! And you see them, these poor torn bodies, and on top of them, poorer bodies still leaning over this meat in which they see love torn away, a tender presence that has become intangible. And it doesn't matter to you anymore. A little over four months will have been enough. Two seasons and soon spring, and here is the great specter of indifference and oblivion which taunts a population cornered in a congruous corner, a heel of its land, only waiting for the coup de grace. But the blows no longer have grace. The slower the death inflicted, the more time the assassin sheds his or her crime. What will happen to Gaza when someone decides to announce the end of the war? What will happen to Lebanon, already burned in its south and which does not know how far the dangerous little fire which is devouring it will rise? If the tears have dried, don't let the ink dry. Let us bear witness that humans exist and that they can be good. Civilization needs traces.

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Gaza dehumanizes us

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