noun ( pl. -lies)
a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.
The figure of the bully springs to mind, writ large and wreaking infinitely more devastation than the casual sadism of the school bully, but in essence the same. What is the point of having all that weaponry if you don’t use it? Precisely! the only point of having it is not to use it. The strong do not need to kill; it is only the weak and the pathetic who go on the rampage. We all know the gentle giant who is slow to anger and can endure a thousand insults before being stirred slowly to fight, just as we know the small vicious thug who is alive to insults that have not yet been uttered except in his paranoia. If shame could kill, then the Israeli leadership should have died by now, for shameful indeed is the murder of men, women and children in this fashion.
The other theme that springs to mind is calculation. In this most calculative of calculating ages, everyone has been calculating outcomes and the effects on this one and that if they do this or that. How shameful this age of calculation, when its sums amount only to dead and dying women and children. Commentators reckon that Israel have planned this slaughter for six months. Presumably our appalled responses are already calculated, maybe even intended. Is that too much to assume when informed analysts see the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (when the Japanese had already tried to surrender) as being in order to send a calculated message to Stalin? For whom is the dreadful message of the Gaza carnage intended?
The Hamas leadership too, shameless in their brazen calculation and their endless silly provocation using their stricken people as pawns in the calculated effect they want to make on the world when their corpses are shown piled one on another. What sums, Hamas! What sums! They have already done the calculations as to how many young people they will need to sacrifice in renewed suicide bombings, but, of course, they have not calculated how many Israeli civilians must die, since they don’t count, if you will excuse an ugly pun. Such spawn of the tide of modernism, such careless shepherds of their poor people, for they do not care for them at all. What an evil age that allows such people to rise to the top, like scum to the surface of the torrent. Shame on you, Hamas! Shame on you, but you are without shame.
And we say with Shakespeare, “A plague on both your houses,” but who then will care for the stricken Palestinians who have been betrayed by everyone, including their own?
Enough lament. What drives these madmen? It is evident on the one side, this demented desire for a racially defined Zionist state as just compensation for being the perpetual victims of the Christian anti-semites. A state with no one in it but Jews. But the bully is an archetype who, if he did not exist, would invent himself and so the emergence of the bully brings forth his counterpart, the archetypal victim. The Christian anti-semitic bully being forever banned from the pure land of Israel, must now come to terms with the consequences of this dialectical process. Horror of horrors, what do we see? The gentle Jews are become horrendous bullies. So, who are the victims this time? The Palestinians? Surely, not again! These poor, downtrodden sons of Sam (Shem to some) a samitic people, probably the purest genetic reservoir of the lost tribes. Anti-semitic bullying once more, this time spiced with the cold resentment that cried, “Never again!” Indeed, but look with dread and amazement at how destiny has turned the erstwhile victim so exactly into the vengeful copy of his hated tormentor, and his new victim into the mirror image so exact of his own self of yesteryear?
But this state, let us hold on to that thread, and Hamas, don’t go away, we have not finished with you yet. There is some story here yet to be told. For remove Jew and Palestinian from the picture and we have seen it all before, far too many times. The tanks, the soldiers swaggering down the streets, with their sub-machine guns, casually past the shoppers, and note, dear reader, they swagger down your streets today too. Beware. For those brought up on the Hollywood films produced after the second world war, that evokes one thing alone: Nazi Germany. Uniformed men walking down the street with submachine guns and we are back in Nazi Germany with its SS and sinister Gestapo.
But how can this be? How can this be the victim who resolutely opposed that horror and who fled it to build something better? But more serious than that, how can this be gallant Britain, which fought that and demonised it as a manifestation of absolute evil? How is it that our streets are now patrolled by submachine gun-toting uniformed and sometimes un-uniformed men and women, moreover men and women who can and do summarily execute complete strangers, and the courts let them off?
How did we as a species get to this? I am sorry Israel, I know you want to plead your own special circumstances, but we have discerned a much broader pattern and are after bigger fish. I am sorry Hamas, we have seen your guerrilla war too many times before in too many lands, and we have seen the women and the children pay, over and over again. But we are after bigger game. For we have seen the beast, and we think that now we can name him: it is the ‘state’. He comes clunking into the room with his boots and his submachine gun and arrests whomever he wishes and executes whomever he wishes, he bombs whomever he wishes, wherever he wishes and whenever.
But, you say, there must be a state, there has to be some governance! People need law, they need rules! Criminals must be punished, etc., so there must be a state. But if the state is so necessary for us, why do we hate it so much? I mean, of course, ‘we’ as a species. Why do we fight against it so much, that it sends those submachine gun toting minions for us in the middle of the night in every country from East to West? And if the state is only governance of the people, for the people, by the people, why does it hate the people so much? Why does it arrest so many? Are such a huge proportion of the people so bad? And why in the US, are the bad so uniformly black? Look in their prisons and tell me that I am wrong.
But, please stick to the point: back to Israel and Gaza. Have the Jews become Goliath and the plucky little Palestinians brave David? Would that it were so simple. The Zionists had to dress up as Jews in order to obtain their state and, true to form, Hamas are, metaphorically speaking, be-turbaned in order to gain theirs. So, the Israelis are the state, are they not? Yes, indeed, but Hamas’s only wish is to become the state. Fostered in the mean cot of modernity, they lust night and day to have a state, any state. Look how long they have fought to get the one they have, look at how many young men and women they sacrificed in suicide missions to their lust to have a state. In that, they merely followed in the footsteps of the puppet Arafat, who in turn had looked in the mirror he held up to Israel and liked what he saw. And what purpose do they serve in all of that? Why they serve the purposes of the Israelis who have a serious demographic problem: a dwindling white Israeli populace and a burgeoning Palestinian one. There is nothing they need more than a separate Palestinian state, and Arafat and his Fatah, and Hamas are apparently only too eager to serve their desire, and how these things get arranged I don’t even pretend to know.
And the state? If you can understand a car, you can understand the state. Say the car is a Lamborghini. You like the sense of power when you get in and rev it up. You have all seen Top Gear and you can recognise car idolatry. Now, what you need to understand is that the state is a super machine. Whatever it is that makes people worship machines, worship the car, then the state is the super-idol. Yeah! I’d love to get into her cockpit. Vroom, vroom!
But the car and the state share a common problem: the price. There is no comparison in their prices, of course, but, nevertheless, paltry though the price of the Lamborghini is compared to the price of the state, its price to ordinary mortals is not the kind of cash we keep in our back pocket. Enter the bank. In both cases. Enter the bank. Don’t worry about that huge price tag. With our helpful service, you just pay a small regular amount, which you will hardly notice, and the Lamborghini or the state, whichever is your preference, is yours.
But the truth is that however much you want the Lamborghini or the state, and however reasonable the monthly payments seem, you simply don’t have that much money, which is, after all, the original cash price and a hefty dollop of interest, and interest on interest on interest, etc.
Thus, everyone who devotedly follows the lives of the rich and famous, the celebrities, is always gloating over the moment when they get their comeuppance, when the bill they cannot pay arrives and close on its heels the bailiffs, or to transpose our metaphor, when the welfare state and the pension funds become too expensive, and the former is closed down or privatised piecemeal and the latter siphoned off in the dead of the night and everyone is too pacified to do anything but whinge. An amazing phenomenon: people have worked their entire lives to put something aside for those few years before death when they won’t have to work like maniacs, and when it is stolen they are simply too tired to do anything except grumble.
And so Hamas wanted a state. Not because it would have done them any good, but because it was simply a kind of Ferrari which they had always longed to drive. No matter that the state is collapsing in terminal decline all over the world, no matter that its citizens are washed out, grey morons too exhausted to complain when their pensions are stolen. Hamas wanted a state.
Ibn Khaldun had an explanation for it. The conquered people: as people, they always believe, quite naturally, that they are the best. But as conquered people they have to square that with the uncomfortable fact of having been conquered. Clearly then the conquerors have something that sets them apart, some factor that distinguishes them, and it is that which gives them the edge. Know that, and we are on the royal road to recovery and we will become again masters of the universe.
So what did the Western colonialists have that was different? Let me see: capitalism and banks, paper money and credit cards, parliamentary democracy, technology, a modern military (technology) and so on. Clearly these are the things they have that are different and so these are the things which have given them power. If we master these things, we will becomes masters of our destiny again, and hopefully masters of others’ destinies as well. “If I ruled the world, every day would be the first day of spring…”
But a careful reading of history, of the colonial times, would show that it was not these things that gave the colonialists the upper hand at all, none of them. Intrepidity, bravery, ruthlessness, daring and sometimes even qualities such as honour and kindness, yes! and, moreover, some of them actually believed passionately in God and in destiny, but it was not parliamentary democracy or banking. Parliamentary democracy meant that the Middle East was the playground of three distinct entities: the Foreign Office, the India Office and the Arab Office, whose squabbling made a considerable mess of Middle Eastern affairs, arguably a mess which we have still not cleaned up today. So, no, it wasn’t democracy, but perhaps some of that reckless bravery and daring of men like Lawrence, who were legion in the 19th and 20th centuries. That was what the colonialists had, and a good deal of brutality and ruthlessness, no doubt.
Nevertheless, you cannot persuade the likes of Hamas who, in essence, are boys who want to drive the Lamborghini no matter what rational arguments you provide them, and of course, they will sign any contract to pay for it. Enter Shylock stage left. But of course today, Shylock doesn’t have to be a Jew, and may well be an Armenian or an American Baptist or a Saudi prince. But whatever the race the price is always the same and it is always unpayable.
Now, when it is only a fancy house at stake, then maybe you will have your house repossessed, and there is another homeless family and another broken family. But what happens when the state stops working? Hamas haven’t even got to that part, but a little thought would let them imagine it, which might remove some of the glitter from their feverishly imagined Shangri-La. Before the state stops working, the apparatchiks must somehow squeeze whatever taxes they can from the impoverished citizens to service the debt, a process that is naturally resented by the working poor, and has always led to riots and revolution. That was before our present time, but now people just change the channel and ignore the bailiffs as long as they don’t take the television.
So here we have two parties: the Israelis who have a state and consequently are beating people up all the time, as the apparatchik of the modern state does all over the world, no matter what race, creed, language or colour. The process is identical. Hamas eagerly wait in the wings for the day when they will take the stage in their little stretch of desert. “The ant’s a centaur in his dragon-world. Pull down thy vanity.”
And in all this, the Palestinians fall between the hammer and the anvil.
What a to-do! And what is there to do? The truth is that the Israelis are incapable of reasoned action, for although they seem to fight a Palestinian state with every last breath in their bodies, they earnestly desire it as their only salvation, but perhaps cannot be seen giving it too easily since that might give the game away. So the Palestinians must win their little heap of sand, their very own little concentration camp, by their own efforts, lest they suspect that it is exactly what their enemies want.
Clearly, the only intelligent solution is for the Palestinians to abandon immediately any desire for their own state, and they should clamour to be admitted back into Israel right away. For in spite of what people say, a very good Palestinian friend once shocked me by affirming that Israel is a democracy and that it is a better one than most of the Arab states in the Middle East, and he still had the scars from beatings he got from the Israeli troops as a stone-throwing boy. Relinquish the obscenely silly fantasy of a Palestinian state, and within a generation the Palestinians will, through sheer force of numbers, be the dominant element in a pluralistic Israel, precisely the reality the Israelis fear.
And in the meantime, while losing the shackles of the Hamas designed entity they will gain the chains of the Israeli one. They will be one with the rest of us as prisoners of states that were once designed to serve us. We all live in states in which the state takes ‘taxes’ from us to pay exponentially growing, increasingly unpayable debts, and in order to pay bankers whenever they suffer the least inconvenience. We all walk down roads patrolled by edgy young men with submachine guns, blissfully unaware of the Nazi overtones.
And while in that condition, we re-establish genuine governance and community which come into existence the moment adult men and women can work together in brotherhood and sisterhood and defer to the better man. And we revive God’s tax which our betters will take from us and give to the genuinely poor and needy rather than to greedy bankers as in the present dispensation. And we turn to the true Source of power and away from all silly political wrangling and contesting over little piles of this silly dung-heap which we have made of the earth. And we praise and laud the Source of power, and look longingly towards the best of His creation, aspiring to have even the tiny fraction of his highest of all qualities that comes from simply loving him.
And we meet and sing the Nasiri du’a whose words include:
Look at what we have experienced from people!
Our state among them is as You see.
Our troops are few and our wealth is little.
Our power has declined among groups.
O You Whose kingdom cannot be pillaged,
give us shelter by Your rank which is never overcome!
O Allah, change the state of hardship
for ease and help us with the wind of victory.
Give us victory over the aggressors
and contain the evil among those who asked for it.
Overpower our enemy, O Mighty, with a force
which disorders them and crushes them.¹
Hajj Abdassamad Clarke
1. Read the Nasiri Du’a here
And if it makes sense to you, then listen to it here
Read something about its author here
and learn to recite it. Recite it for the Palestinians and recite it for the Iraqis and recite it for the Afghans, and, not least of all, recite it for us here in the prison camp of the Enlightenment.
From: Muslims of Norwich