By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
It’s always surprising to see the code words through which murder is mainstreamed and normalized. “Armed struggle” was one of the old terms. Then there is “resistance,” and of course “militants” and “insurgents.” That last term was the one they gave ISIS in 2014 as it was bulldozing across Iraq. When it took 1,566 Shia cadets at Camp Speicher and killed them one by one, mostly on social media bragging about it, they were called “insurgents.” Western media tries to hide these atrocities lest the average reader wonder if the term “insurgent” is perhaps not accurate to describe the systematic genocide of people. One wonders if course if the “insurgency” was turned around and the ISIS supporters were subjected to the same thing, if it would still have such pleasant terms.
Well, actually we know in Iraq it doesn’t. ISIS was “insurgents,” but when Iraqi security forces were filmed killing people in Mosul, about half a dozen people, NGOs rushed to condemn and demand investigations. There were no calls for ISIS to investigate its genocide or condemnations in June 2014. That paved the way for genocide, but even today we hear about how “disenfranchisement drives people to join ISIS.”
So recently there was a terror attack in Jerusalem. One person who regularly talks and chats “coexistence” described it as a “resistance” against Israel. Resistance is the code word for support. Resistance implies of course that people are resisting something, not just murdering people. That is the term that people need to explain to themselves their support. The dehumanize victims or erase them, and they glorify and explain the killings. From ISIS in Iraq to Israel or other countries, this is what always happens.
The problem is that we are told time and again that there is “coexistence” only to find out that some of the people supposedly involved in “coexistence” excuse murder and support terror. At the center of the coexistence concept is understanding the narrative of the other. But when the goal posts are moved so far that the “other” says that genocide is an acceptable answer, your “coexistence” with them simply gives a stamp of approval to genocide. Because coexistence with people who support murder means human life is negotiable. One person says “human X does not deserve life.” Then you coexist with that person, so the agreement is “human X deserves only half a life.” Well, half a life is still a dead person. You can’t genocide just half the people. But this is what most coexistence amounts to. One person is a rabid extreme nationalist, religious fanatic who supports killing, the other half of the equation is someone who thinks their life is negotiable. So the coexistence paradigm ends up.
I hate you.
I hate myself.
What we see sometimes is that the person coexisting often begs “well, what about people like me who believe in peace, surely you don’t support ‘resisting’ me and killing me.” And then the other person says “no, not people like you.” That is the existence of the slave and the master, not the equal. Ironically this kind of coexistence narrative seems to take place between the “weaker” person who is ‘resisting and whose hatred and genocidal views we are supposed to have sympathy and understanding for, and the stronger player. But actually what happens is not that, what happens is that within the ostensibly weaker “resisting” person is actually the genocidal supremacist view. ISIS or the Nazis or KKK all claimed a victim-narrative. Nazis were “resisting” the 1918 treaty that harmed Germany (even though Germany started the war). The KKK claimed they were victims of “Yankess” who were “carpetbaggers.” ISIS claimed to be victims of “Shia domination” in Iraq. But in each case the victim narrative is from the former supremacist. The KKK were the whites who once ran the south. Nazis were speaking about a return to German power. ISIS was talking about a return. Iraq was run by Saddam for decades, so the real disenfranchised people were Kurds and Shia, but we hear that Sunni Arabs had to join ISIS to “resist.” But their “resistance” was to genocide and rape the weakest Iraqis, the Yazidis. So their victim narrative is actually about power and genocide, just like KKK harming former black slaves and Nazis murdering Jews.
We cannot coexist with Nazis, KKK or ISIS. You can only coexist with people who are equals and peaceful. There can be no resistance alongside coexistence if the resistance is genocidal.