Back to Black and Back to the Stone Age


You know how sometimes a cop will turn off his dash cam (often “mistakenly,” or it “malfunctions”) right before he brutalizes or executes a victim? That’s what Israel did yesterday, when it knocked out Gaza’s only power plant, killing the power for most of the population. This, besides its economic/humanitarian impacts, will make it much harder for Gazans to convey their plight to the rest of the world.  As smartphone and computer batteries run out, powerful, sympathy-inducing voices from Gaza, like that of the 16-year old Twitter-user Farah Baker (@Farah_Gazan), and the 10-year-old girl in this viral video, will be silenced. And as camera batteries die, we may see fewer heart-rending images of the carnage and wreckage that Israel’s pogrom is inflicting upon civilians, especially children.

Israeli government officials and their cheerleaders will welcome such a development, as one of their chief complaints in interviews has been the “unfair” impact that such images of, in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s words “telegenically dead Palestinians,” have had on world opinion. Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the US, recently fretted that, “the pictures look terrible on the TV, and that immediately translates into diplomatic pressure on Israel to accept a far-less advantageous ceasefire.” Oren was particularly worried that the outrage over the images would lead to Israel having its (blood-soaked) “hands tied” by the UN Security Council.

After all, imagine if these pesky personal recording and communication devices had been around in 1947. If its massacres had been broadcast in real time, the Naqba might never have even gotten off the ground!

Surely, Netanyahu and Oren hope that the electricity black-out will result in an atrocity black-out. And with the “telegenically” dead conveniently made invisibly dead, the massacre might become “out of sight, out of mind” enough to world opinion, that Israel can secure a Carthaginian peace, with their precious starvation blockade of Gaza fully intact.

Leaving Gaza with no electricity, and therefore no running water or sewage treatment, also furthers another Israeli aim. Netanyahu has stressed the war objective of stripping Hamas of its rocket-firing ability. We’re not talking centrifuges and IBMs here. The Qassam rockets Hamas uses consist of little more than piping and fertilizer. So, the only way that an assault could make the creation of such primitive devices impossible would be by completely obliterating any remnants of technology and the division of labor left in Gaza: by bombing the Palestinians “back to the Stone Age” and destroying their infrastructure. A chilling expression of such a desire was given by Gilad Sharon, the son of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the Jerusalem Post in 2012:

“We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.

“There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing.”

Gilad is getting exactly what he wanted, from the knocked-out electricity to the flattened neighborhoods, like this one:

Indeed, a Netanyahu-allied editor called earlier this month for “returning Gaza to the Stone Age and for removing the snake’s teeth by destroying Hamas’s arsenal… We should return the Hamas people to a situation in which they can only throw stones at us just as things were during the first intifada.”

Further destroying Gaza’s division of labor is also surely an unspoken goal in Israel’s much ballyhooed ongoing destruction of Gaza’s “terror tunnels,” which, as Jason Ditz has pointed out, are actually chiefly “economic survival” tunnels. Moreover, most of the personal electronics used by Gazans to document, tweet, record, and post their suffering and loss were probably smuggled in through these tunnels. This makes the destruction of the tunnels, like that of the power plant, another twofer for Israel: helping to both economically cripple and silence their victims.

And of course, after “civilized” Israel thus further barbarizes (de-civilizes, disintegrates the division of labor of, etc) the people of Gaza, Hasbarists on social media will continue to use that very imposed desperate barbarism (or “savagery”) to justify even more barbarization. This is a very old imperial ploy, as Murray Rothbard indicated in his critique of Ayn Rand’s support of, in her words, the “civilized men” of Israel against Palestinian “savages”. In 1973, he responded in The Libertarian Forum:

“Perhaps the Palestinian Arabs are “savages” because they live miserable lives in hovels on the desert; but they do so because—one and a half million of them—they were driven out of their homes and properties by the Zionists, and they remain in dire poverty as refugees. Miss Rand’s strictures are chillingly reminiscent of the English who drove the Irish out of their farms and lands by force, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and then looked down their noses at the “wild, savage” Irishmen who unaccountably spent their lives wandering around the forests.”

Of course it is the imperial militarism of Israel that is the greatest barbarism in this matter, how ever many coffee shops and internet start-ups there may be in Tel Aviv. The Imperial Roman spectators, both patrician and pleb, who gazed and cheered at gladiatorial bloodshed before visiting a public bath, were more barbaric than the tribal, war-captive gladiators themselves. Similarly, the greater barbarians today are not the expropriated, impoverished, desperate Gazans being aerial-bombed, but, in addition to the politicians and soldiers doing the bombing, the Israeli hill-top spectators who sipped espresso and dreamed of genocide while viewing the 2008-2009 assault, and who cheered each death-dealing bomb blast from lawn chairs during the present one. The jingoism many Americans revel in as they watch 4th of July fireworks shows evoking “bombs bursting in air” is bad enough. But to treat the actual bombing of human beings as just the same sort of patriotic outdoor entertainment reveals a deep sickness of the soul.

And yet when a CNN reporter, on Twitter, referred to a group of such spectators as “scum,” after witnessing their macabre rounds of applause and being threatened by them with violence, it was the reporter who was denounced and fired. That is the extent to which the media establishment is oblivious to concerns of basic human decency and civilization, especially when they impede imperial designs.

Herbert Spencer was right when he wrote in 1850:

“Whatever fosters militarism makes for barbarism; whatever fosters peace makes for civilization.”

43 thoughts on “Back to Black and Back to the Stone Age”

  1. "There may continue to be debate on the strategies of hiding tunnels and missiles among civilian structures, but there should be no debate that knowingly attacking hospitals and health facilities is not the answer. Attacks on such buildings are violations of humanitarian and human rights law and should be universally condemned.
    Destroying them not only leaves no safe space for civilians in the short term, but can also disrupt access to health care for years to come, as structures are rebuilt and health care workers are recruited. This particularly affects the most vulnerable groups, including children.
    Using civilian health facilities as bases for attacks is wrong; but attacking those structures knowingly is not the solution, and only worsens the problem." — Dr. Rohini J. Haar, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, Department of Emergency Medicine

  2. Israel destroyed Gaza's power supply. The USA thinks Israel should do whatever it can to defend itself but doesn't think the Palestinians or anyone else for that matter, should do anything to protect themselves from Israel and the USA.

  3. Ah, now I get why Rothbard is described as "anti-semite" on Wikipedia (despite being, of course, Jewish)

  4. While I do not agree with some of the tactics that Israel are using they have been left no other choice but to do what they are doing. Can anyone else honestly say that if their country where under the same sort of attacks by a terrorist group they would not do the same?

    The international community have condemned Israel but they did not start this Hamas did a terrorist gang murders who have stated that they want to destroy Israel and kill all Jews. The nation of Israel has right to exist and it's people have a right to live in peace. So the international community should be condemning Hamas they are the ones that do not want a ceasefire. I am sure that people want the same as the people of Israel to exist and to live in peace, but that is never going to happen while Hamas is in power. They need to reject Hamas and elect people with more sense people that can sit down and talk to Israel and get a permanent peace deal.

    1. Do you have no shame to spread such falsehoods. The Gazans have a legal right to defend themselves against a brutal and criminal occupation. The only solution left now is to dismantle Israel and have a single Palestinian state for both.

      It is not for you to tell the Palestinians who they can vote for.

      1. Yes Hamas is doing a really great job of leading the people of Gaza. I thought a government was supposed to protect it's people, Why will Hamas not sit down and talk oh that's right they want to wipe Israel from the face of the earth. Would you vote for a government that is doing what Hamas is doing?

    2. Which completely ignores the fact that Hamas was created and nurtured by Israel because it didn't want to deal with the PLO. They decided they could divide and weaken Palestinian resistance by developing a strictly Muslim opposition group that would exclude secularists, socialists and Christians. Well, they got exactly what they wanted. Israel has no one but themselves to blame for the power and prevalence of Hamas in Gaza, which it reinforces every day with these barbaric assaults.

    3. Regarding those frightful missiles… Explain to me how those residents of Sderot (the most frequent target of the bottle rockets Hamas launches into Israel) can drag out their sofas, lawn chairs, coolers full of beer and snacks on a hillside overlooking Gaza and cheer at each bomb blast that kills who knows how many children Gaza. They are only a few hundred meters from the launch site of these supposed deadly weapons of Hamas. Could it be that they, more so than anyone, know that the DEADLY ROCKET FIRE is only slightly more dangerous than mosquitoes?

      1. What those residents did is appalling and I hope that they are punished in some way. But as for your “I am sure what you thought was an intelligent remark” DEADLY ROCKET FIRE is an insult. Have you seen the results of one of these rockets exploding and the results of on anyone caught in the blast radius? Have you seen the results of any kind of weapons fire? I was a combat medic for nine years and saw the damage all the weapons being used in Gaza can do. The loss of life on both sides is tragic. But for you dismiss the damage those rockets or any ordnance can do shows a lack of knowledge.

    4. What happens when we grant that you're right? That you can't negotiate with Hamas, there is no negotiation that would make them stop firing rockets, that Israel can't make any deal with these terrorists, what do you propose? Any other country, you say, would do the same thing. Well, this terrorist group you're talking about was elected by the people of Gaza. To wipe out Hamas, you will have to wipe them out too. All of them. Even the little ones, the baby terrorists. They are a threat to Israel's peace and tourism. No country would accept this.

      Certainly Germany wouldn't. And didn't.

      You see where this is going.

      Have the courage of your convictions: admit that there is a solution, in your world- and that solution is the only way Israel will ever be safe.

      I'm sure that incredibly moral Israeli army can come up with some clever new designs for disposal of threats to the German Volk. Did I say Volk? I'm sorry, I meant "Israeli people." Because your way- providing the people of Gaza nothing but blockade, seige, attack, and death- has only one solution. A final solution.

      So have some backbone and be honest. Like you historical predecessors.

      1. Ja meine liberalen Narr. Did I say that sorry must have got carried away with being a Nazi after all that is what you are accusing me of being and the whole nation of Israel? What a wonderful world you must live in where nothing bad ever happan's. Well I never worry what people think about me especially small minded self righteous idiots with no grasp of reality or history. But I think that the people of Israel might have something to say about being compared to the Nazi's. So tell me why are Israel in Gaza would it be to stop terrorists firing rockets into their country and using tunnels to mount terrorist attacks. So please let the world hear how you would deal with the problem.

    5. Hamas was formed because of Israeli terrorism, not the other way around. Of course the prisoners in he Israeli concentration camp in Gaza are trying to break out. So would anyone else in the same circumstances. Read "The Atlantic Charter" which outlined the reasons to remove Adolph Hitler from power. Israel has and is violating every one of these principles. It is shocking beyond words, but for now their hypocrisy is going unpunished. It will no be that way forever however..

      1. BREAKING NEWS….. Israel compared to Nazi Germany. Wait a minute did the rest of the world miss something? Is Israel not supposed to defend itself and it's citizens? Is it supposed to wait for the UN and or the rest of the world to stop Hamas firing THOUSANDS of rockets into it's country and Hamas to stop using tunnels constructed with material that Israel allowed into Gaza for rebuilding of homes and businesses? Israel would not be in Gaza if Hamas was not firing rockets and using tunnels that end in Israel to mount terrorist attacks. I always thought a government was supposed to protect it's people well I have to say Hamas is doing a stand up job there. Isn't it? By the way why won't the so called leaders of Hamas sit down and talk what are they scared off? That's right their not interested in talking all they want to do is wipe the nation of Israel from the earth.

  5. Israelis will have to live with this atrocity on their consciences, exactly as the Germans have to live with what their ancestors did under Hitler. But as humans are expert rationalizers, it probably won't bother them too much. Just a few nightmares, now and then.

  6. "We’re not talking centrifuges and IBMs here. The Qassam rockets Hamas uses consist of little more than piping and fertilizer."

    Piping and fertilizer doesn't fly 60 miles. Hamas is using sophisticated weapons.

    “Whatever fosters militarism makes for barbarism; whatever fosters peace makes for civilization.”

    And building tunnels that are stocked with weapons, fake military uniforms, and implements for kidnapping is for peace? Gaza could have built power plants, schools, hospitals, and other things that make up a civilizations since Israel disengaged, instead the people have refused to build a life and only focused on eliminating Israel.

    1. Yes, just keep celebrating in your lawn chair on the hillside as your tanks fire on refugee centers, elementary schools. I can tell how endangered you are by your cappuccinos. It must be rough, like having no power, no water, no sewage system.

    2. It's about right and wrong. The Zionists stole Palestine from the Palestinians. The Zionists are criminals. The Zionists are in the wrong. Anything the Palestinians do by way of fighting back is legit. Everything the perps — ie the Zionists — do is wrong.

      The propaganda-free simple truth. Get over it.

    3. Seems to me that the Gazans do build power plants, schools, hospitals, and playgrounds- we hear about them on a daily basis, don't we, when Israel bombs them. Usually just after ordering Gazans out of their homes into those places. Sort of like telling the fish to get into the barrel.

      Before blowing up the barrel.

      They must wonder if there's any point.

      And by the way, what do you suppose Israel could do with all the money that paid for 10,000 armored vehicles, the world's fourth largest air force, all those submarines, and hydrogen bombs besides? All the billions that have gone into that wall, and the illegal settlements? There were some demos about that a couple of years ago, weren't there?

      Pot calling the kettle black, much?

  7. The state of Israel should be taken over by the UN, and all its Jewish citizens treated as they now treat Palestinians. Instead of Gaza, Israel will become a big outdoor prison camp. Close all borders.Gradually lesson the amount of land allowed to them. If they resist, bomb them and destroy all infrastructure. Let the punishment fit the crime.

    1. OH WOW…. what a great idea that would really solve the problem. I wonder why intelligent people have not thought of that idea.

  8. Bolivia just declared Israel as a terrorists state and revoke the no visa agreement with Israeli visiting Bolivia. We need the world to do the same and have the "bull" as Bolivian president. Viva Bolivia.

    Perhaps the Turkish Erdogan government, and rest of EU government could come up with such idea, that is to say if they have the "bull"! In the other hand, boycotting Israel is the language that Israel will understand no matter how little it is.

  9. Israel should be forced to connect to the Gaza power grid to supply it with power, or Egypt (UN could pay Egypt and bill the Israelis for it)

    1. You are seriously saying that Israel should be forced to give assistance to its worst enemies?

  10. The Romans were very smart. They destroyed Carthage and sold its survivors into slavery. Carthage never bothered Rome again.

    Israeli politicians are stupid. They let Gaza attack Israel again and again. Just destroy Gaza and end the conflict already!

  11. You know things are getting serious when they're attacking strategic objectives that affect civilians. What will happen to hospitals, how are they going to get power for them.

  12. Well everyone deserves a fair hearing,its "normal" to be oppressed but killing the only form of communication channnel is very unfair to the Gaza.

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