At this juncture a revisitation of Umberto Ecco’s 14 Defining Characteristics of a Black Shirt is advisable if we are to understand the nature of the Israeli nation and its current atrocities. We’ll leave them below in this post as a reminder to discuss them in depth later, as events on the ground in Gaza have become compelling – the bombing of ICRC installations, hospitals, media facilities, UN compounds – we watched as white phosphorous was used throughout built up areas in Gaza City.
GAZA, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces on Thursday shelled a Palestinian Red Crescent hospital in Gaza city in which hundreds of patients and wounded were staying for treatment along with the medical staff and civilians who sought refuge in it.
PIC reporter said that the IOF soldiers bombarded the hospital along with the PRC offices as preliminary reports indicate that more than 700 Palestinian citizens were inside the hospital.
The PRC director warned of the serious conditions in the hospital, pointing out that the shelling was directly aimed at the hospital.
He said that fire started in the pharmacy and the second floor that comprises the hospital administration.
He condemned the IOF shelling describing it as “unjustified”, and said that apparently the IOF shelling was targeting anything that moves even if they were medical or relief convoys.
Around 500 people were sheltering in the Al-Quds hospital in the city’s southwestern Tal Al-Hawa district when it was bombed by Israeli jets and set ablaze on Thursday morning.
Hospital officials said the fire was sparked by a “phosphorus shell”.
“We have been able to control the fire in the hospital but not in the administrative building,” one hospital official said.
“We hope that the flames don’t spread again to the wings of the hospital.”
Two hospitals east of Gaza City were also hit by Israeli shells as Gazans fled tanks advancing into the city.
Americans are losing patience with Israel’s petulant treachery and obvious crimes against humanity, demanding a curtailment in aid – about time.
As the black plumes of black smoke billow into the skies over Gaza from the United Nations relief agency — the main source of fuel, food, and medicine for the bombed-to-hell Gazans (including the many who never wanted Hamas there to begin with) who are trapped in a box with no way to escape and little means of fighting back, there’s little use for Israel to deny it’s using white phosphorus bombs, and using them illegally — in densely populated civilian areas.
According to the UN spokesman on the ground, John Ging, this inferno was caused by white phosphorus bombs — no ifs ands or buts — and it wasn’t an accident: the UN repeatedly warned Israel that its bombs were getting closer and closer. Because of the nature of white phosphorus, the flames can’t be put out with water. What’s more, according to physicians in Gaza, some five dozen Gazans have already been burned by this nasty weapon that melts skin to the bone.
Proof of the illegal use of white phosphorus bombs despite Israel’s previous denials , also give new weight to claims (denied by Israel) that it is also trying out a new weapon developed by the U.S. Air Force — DIME — short for Dense Inert Metal Explosive, which rips off limbs and slams micro-shrapnel under the skin of those nearby.
@AJGaza UN’s Chris Gunness: “If there were militants in our compound, why weren’t we told?”
And from Al Jazeera (heroic news bureau of the year):
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, justified shelling the UN headquarters claiming armed Palestinians within it had fired at Israeli troops first.
“It is absolutely true that we were attacked from that place … but the consequences were very sad and I apologise for it,” he said.
“There were no militants in our compound and… [the Israelis] are changing their story saying militants were ‘in the vicinity'”
Christopher Gunness, Unrwa spokesman
However, Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for Unrwa, robustly denied that Palestinian fighters were among refugees sheltering there.
“At no stage during the fighting today did any Israeli official pick up the phone and tell us there were militants in our compound.
“We always take action against militants … there were no militants in our compound and now they [the Israelis] are changing their story, saying militants were ‘in the vicinity’,” he said.
Gunness called for a “proper investigation” into the incident.
Louis Michel, the European Aid Commissioner, also condemned the bombing of the UN complex, branding it “unacceptable”.
“I am deeply shocked and dismayed to learn of this incident … I have made it very clear that all sides must respect international humanitarian law.
“It is unacceptable that the UN headquarters in Gaza has been struck by Israeli artillery fire,” he said.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, strongly condemned the incident and demanded a full explanation from Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, during talks held on Thursday in Tel Aviv.
Ban said Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, had apologised for the attack describing it as a “grave mistake”.
A Red Crescent office near Gaza City and the main mosque in the southern city of Rafah were also shelled as the Israelis pushed deeper into the Strip.
According to John Ging, phosphorous shells were fired into the compound, which is still ablaze with phosphorous fires. International staff witnessed the shelling. Thousands of ton of food, supplies, mattresses and medical supplies have been destroyed. The Israelis were very well aware of the location, there was “definitely no firing in the vicinity” and the Israelis shelled the compound from kilometres away. There is no excuse for this – despite Barak’s lame apology and Olmert’s lying obsfucations. It is clear who is at fault.
According to UNRWA sources the offices located in Tall-al Hawa area in Gaza city sustained damage and caught fire, three UN employees were injured in the attack.
In response to the Israeli attack the UNRWA announced the halt of its operations in the Gaza Strip. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is providing 700, 000 Palestinians with their daily needs of food, since the Israeli attack on Gaza UNRWA schools became a shelter for those people that fled the Israeli shelling.
Earlier Rami AL Meghari, IMEMC corresponded in Gaza, said that Israeli tanks have moved into the Gaza City center, near a United Nations relief compound. The tanks have been randomly shelling residential areas.
IMEMC Talked to Dr. Ass’ad Abu Khalaf, who live in Tall-al Hawa, he said that tanks, navel boats and jetfighters are shelling the residential area, he added that most of his neighbors have left, but still for those who have no where to go like him they stayed in their homes.
While the US might abstain from UN Security Council Resolutions at the behest of Olmert, funds are about to be cut from the generous pot habitually proferred to Israel.
The United States administration plans to cut about $1 billion from the balance of its loan guarantees to Israel because of its investments in the settlements. The balance currently stands at $4.6 billion.
Washington has not officially informed Jerusalem of the cut. The assumption is that the announcement, and the decision over the exact extent of the cut, will come only after Barack Obama is sworn in as president next Tuesday.
56% of the population of Gaza are children.
In Haaretz, Gideon Levy looks at the carnage committed by the IDF on behalf of the criminal Israeli Government on the children of Gaza and concludes:
About a third of those killed in Gaza have been children – 311, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, 270 according to the B’Tselem human rights group – out of the 1,000 total killed as of Wednesday. Around 1,550 of the 4,500 wounded have also been children according to figures from the UN, which says the number of children killed has tripled since the ground operation began. This is too large a proportion by any humanitarian or ethical standard. It is enough to look at the pictures coming from Shifa Hospital to see how many burned, bleeding and dying children now lie there.
No pilot or soldier went to war to kill children. Not one among them intended to kill children, but it also seems neither did they intend not to kill them. They went to war after the IDF had already killed 952 Palestinian children and adolescents since May 2000.
The public’s shocking indifference to these figures is incomprehensible. A thousand propagandists and apologists cannot excuse this criminal killing. One can blame Hamas for the death of children, but no reasonable person in the world will buy these ludicrous, flawed propagandistic goods in light of the pictures and statistics coming from Gaza.
A significant majority of the children killed in Gaza did not die because they were used as human shields or because they worked for Hamas. They were killed because the IDF bombed, shelled or fired at them, their families or their apartment buildings. That is why the blood of Gaza’s children is on our hands, not on Hamas’ hands, and we will never be able to escape that responsibility.
In Britain the House of Commons is holding a special session tonight, after Sir Gerald Kaufman, who is Jewish, ‘condemned the Israeli leadership as “mass murderers and war criminals” – and some MPs urged the government to adopt a more robust, anti-Israeli stance.’
We’ve been drawn to a new site monitoring bias in the media toward Israel – Write. Following their links, we came across FAIR’s excellent critique of dead tree media reporting during the Gaza inferno, stating
U.S. corporate media coverage of the Israeli military attacks that have reportedly killed over 900–many of them civilians–since December 27 has overwhelmingly failed to mention that indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets are illegal under international humanitarian law.
If Livni thinks she can waltz Fatah into government in Gaza as the curel Iron Maiden is touting at present, after the stand made by Hamas resisting the brutal Israeli occupation she’s in for a nasty surprise. Fascist governments always misunderstand their opponents, as Ecco points out.
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt
In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of fascism, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.
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1. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.
Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it typical of counterrevolutionary Catholic thought after the French revolution, but is was born in the late Hellenistic era, as a reaction to classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean basin, people of different religions (most of the faiths indulgently accepted by the Roman pantheon) started dreaming of a revelation received at the dawn of human history. This revelation, according to the traditionalist mystique, had remained for a long time concealed under the veil of forgotten languages — in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic runes, in the scrolls of the little-known religions of Asia.
This new culture had to be syncretistic. Syncretism is not only, as the dictionary says, “the combination of different forms of belief or practice;” such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth.
As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.
If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores, are labeled New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine, who, as far as I know, was not a fascist. But combining Saint Augustine and Stonehenge — that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism.
2. Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism.
Both Fascists and Nazis worshipped technology, while traditionalist thinkers usually reject it as a negation of traditional spiritual values. However, even though Nazism was proud of its industrial achievements, its praise of modernism was only the surface of an ideology based upon blood and earth (Blut und Boden). The rejection of the modern world was disguised as a rebuttal of the capitalistic way of life. The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.
3. Irrationalism also depends on the cult of action for action’s sake.
Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering’s fondness for a phrase from a Hanns Johst play (“When I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my gun”) to the frequent use of such expressions as “degenerate intellectuals,” “eggheads,” “effete snobs,” and “universities are nests of reds.” The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed traditional values.
4. The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism.
In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason.
5. Besides, disagreement is a sign of diversity.
Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.
6. Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration.
That is why one of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old “proletarians” are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new majority.
7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country.
This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.
8. The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. Fascist governments are condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively evaluating the force of the enemy.
9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.
Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world. But such “final solutions” implies a further era of peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.
10. Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the weak.
Ur-Fascism can only advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people in the world, the members or the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact, the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses; they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler.
11. In such a perspective everybody is educated to become a hero.
In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Spanish Falangists was Viva la Muerte (“Long Live Death!”). In nonfascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.
12. Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters.
This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons — doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.
13. Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say.
In a democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a political impact only from a quantitative point of view — one follows the decisions of the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only called on to play the role of the People. Thus the People is only a theatrical fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.
Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against “rotten” parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a parliament because it no longer represents the Voice of the People, we can smell Ur-Fascism.
14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.
Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.
* * *
Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances — every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt’s words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: “If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.” Freedom and liberation are an unending task.