Monday, March 24, 2008

..a special version of the blood libel

Norm this morning

Brian Keenan returns to Beirut:

Dahiya, the worst-hit area, had been exclusively Hezbollah territory - a no-go area for outsiders. When I drove into part of it with a Lebanese driver, I could feel waves of repulsion coming out of the rubble of half-demolished apartments. Some people were still living in makeshift accommodation. Their eyes followed our car with suspicion. "Let's leave," I said, unable to bear the unspoken accusation that I felt was being thrown at

The word "holocaust" entered my head as I looked back at the devastation. History is supposed to tell us what not to repeat - but it seems that for the Israeli military machine, the needle has got stuck.

What are the possibilities here? That Keenan is so ignorant about the Holocaust that he thinks it was very like what the Israeli military did in this area of Beirut in 2006? It seems unlikely he could think so. What then? That he thinks the Holocaust is an acceptable allusion in the context, either because the IDF 'sort of' repeated it in Beirut, or because Israel is a Jewish state and it's a neat historical play to turn it around in this way?

It is sometimes said that one of the fruits of personal suffering is wisdom, and I know that can be true. But Keenan's sentiment shows that it is not a truth without exceptions - that even one who has suffered unjustly can make himself the conduit for a most poisonous theme, this one repeated now often enough to be acquiring the status of a special version of the blood libel


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