This writing was first intended as a letter on collective madness to a good but unfortunately impassioned Jewish writer, deeply-rooted in that irreducible denial in which most members of ethnic or political tribes seek refuge when faced with facts demonstrating injustice on their part. She expressed her unmitigated support of Israel’s actions against the Palestinian people based on arguments which the U.S. and Israeli press have often repeated and which need no repetition here.
The real theme of this paper is the next-to-impossible task of distilling objective understanding and factual observations, just settlements and mutually beneficial solutions in irrational conflicts between nations, religions, and political ideologies.
Suicide Terrorism Before Christ
When writing about suicide bombers, it is odd that no journalist has yet associated contemporary “suicidal terrorism” with the Old Testament’s first report of a suicide terrorist:
The temple was crowded with men and women. All the leading Philistines were there. There were something like three thousand people on the roof, watching Samson. Samson called out to Yahweh: « Lord Yahweh, remember me. Give me strength this last time, and let me be avenged at one blow for my two eyes. » He put his arms around the two central pillars supporting the building, his right arm around one and his left around the other. He cried out, « Let me die with the Philistines! » And then he leaned forward with all his strength, and the temple fell on the chiefs and on all the people who were in it. He killed more people at his death than he had killed in his life.” Judges 16: 27-30
Samson, after being blinded by Delilah and made a slave, was chained to a millstone for many years and ultimately chose a suicidal act of terror to destroy his oppressors.
When I was as a child my teachers didn’t refer to Samson as an evil terrorist for destroying his oppressors and sacrificing his own life in the process. Quite the contrary, Samson was regarded as a hero. In fact, « Samson and Delilah » is one among the “Heroes of the Bible » series. In an early blockbuster movie with Victor Mature as Samson, Samson’s suicidal terrorist act is glorified.
To Christians and Jews Samson has been portrayed as a great hero; nowhere in all these centuries is there a reproach from God for his deadly act. How very interesting, therefore, that today Jewish, Christian, and Moslem writers have ignored this biblical story, especially since the number of innocent Philistines who were crushed by the collapsing temple was around 3000 – strangely, almost the same number of people who perished on September 11 in the temple of modern international business and money exchange. The World Trade Center was brought down by suicidal terrorists invoking the same Semitic God Samson invoked in the distant past when seeking revenge.
In order to forestall the all-too-predictable accusations of anti-Semitism for speaking out clearly against injustice, the following is a true episode from my own life, the event which spawned my lifelong opposition to injustice and tyranny.
In 1943 during World War II my family sheltered several Jewish neighbors in our apartment at 104 via Agostino De Pretis, where the German army had established an officers’ club on the third floor. I was barely 13 years old, and a good part of my day, when air raids permitted, was taken up carrying buckets of water to our apartment. I walked down seven flights of stairs and then about a mile from home to a public water fountain, stood in a long line, filled and carried back two big heavy buckets of wonderful Roman spring water, then climbed the stairs, trying to dodge questions from the “portiere” as to why the Vidali Family seemed to use so much more water than any other tenant.
On March 23, 1944, an Italian resistance fighter camouflaged as a street sweeper set up a bomb in a cleaning cart and exploded it when Company XI of Battalion III of the German SS Polizei Regiment Bozen marched in Via Rasella only a few blocks from my home. 33 German SS were killed. Gunfire and explosions between the Italian resistance and SS followed.
Just as the attack occurred I was walking back with my water buckets and found myself barred from going home. I tried to change direction by taking a side street, but all streets were being blocked. Male civilians were being grabbed off the street and loaded on trucks by armed soldiers and police. My life was saved that terror-filled afternoon by the tearful intervention of my 19 year-old cousin Stella, who pleaded with a young German officer to let me pass.
The next day 330 Italians of all ages were transported by the SS to caves known as “Fosse Ardeatine” and murdered one by one with a single pistol, shot to the head in cold blood. The entrance to the cave was dynamited, creating an instant mass grave. The fascist press called that action a “justifiable » German reprisal against Italian terrorists.” Good friends of ours – fathers and brothers of ordinary families – perished without their families knowing what had actually happened. The Nazis disallowed fact finding, and claimed to have killed saboteurs, communists, and terrorists, not teachers, students, doctors, and workers. No, the Nazis were the « good guys » who were punishing « evil » Italian terrorists.
Five years later I arrived by ship to the United States and wept with profound emotion upon seeing the Statue of Liberty. Few people born and raised in a functioning Democracy are able to imagine the depth of the love that I as an immigrant from a fascist state have always felt for America.
My defense of this country, especially when traveling abroad, has never wavered, even with the discrimination I endured here in my youth. I remember being called wap, dago, and other derogatory epithets similar to jap, nigger, and kike, but joked back and reminded these name-calling right wing racists that Italy had contributed substantially to their claims of being civilized. The reason I always defended my adopted country was because I revered its magnificent governing document and the ideals it embodied: the United States Constitution, the greatest promise for human beings to live free under just laws and to pursue happiness in a united and strong nation. Yes, Italy was my childhood cradle but while my love for its culture is as much a part of me as the Jewish culture is a part of any Jew, I would never support a Congress or an Administration that puts the interests of Italy above the interests of the people of the United States.
Fascism on the Rise Today
Martin Luther King helped move us closer to the time when this promise will blossom into full reality, just as the greed, powerlust and big money corruption of the 2000 elections blocked progress and are pushing us back from freedom into the fascist filth of the past with its ugly exploitation of the poor, use of foreign child labor, and theft of our surplus and treasury behind a propaganda smoke screen of a “War on Terrorism.” I find all the warmongering and sly emotional appeals, the drum beating and flag waving while our Constitution is being thrashed behind our backs, contemptible.
Thousands of American who died to rid Europe of fascism and nazism are turning over in their graves, realizing in horror that in only 60 years the American people – having become TV-brainwashed – are facing a neo-fascist takeover of their government in broad daylight. A judicial coup financed by a multinational energy Ponzi scheme – ENRON – and by armaments and financial cartels helped by the lobby of a foreign nation, is trying to establish a totalitarian dictatorship to destroy Democracy by contriving a perennial war that may end by plunging us all in a global nuclear catastrophe. Like deer frozen on a highway staring at approaching headlights, the Americans people are confused and helplessly paralyzed.
Meanwhile, Israel’s controlling Zionists have spread their tentacles into the Texas Ranch of the un-American pseudo-leader and are committing errors that retrograde the hard-won Jewish achievements of world acceptance, provoking increasing anti-Jewish feeling and reactions worldwide. No action has been more damaging to the Jewish community than Congress’ pro-Israel measure sponsored by Senator Joe Lieberman, which passed with blatant disregard for the immense suffering of the Palestinian people. Read Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s insightful statement about this irresponsible measure.
The shock of our so-called « Representatives » – oblivious to this nation’s interests – cheering and supporting a foreign country while it is in the act of inflicting the same brutal massacres on the Palestinians as the German’s inflicted on the Jews in WWII, is devastating to what remains of America’s self respect. Bush acting like Sharon’s poodle projects the image of a frightening Evil Empire ruled by a weak madman approving war while blabbering peace, accepting mass murders while spouting Christian compassion, and pretending not to see the crimes committed by his rebellious governor of Palestine, Pontius Pilate (Sharon) foaming at the mouth and telling the weak Texan Caesar to go chase cows on his ranch. But little Caesar is desperately trying to keep his dad’s Saudi Arabian oil partners happy and get some help for revenge against Saddam Hussein. Sharon wouldn’t mind returning favors and assisting in Bush’s planned massacres in Iraq for a share of its oil. Maybe all this will help the Texas Emperor. Quite a juggling act that might blow up like the Venezuelan Bush oil coup.
Having lived in a fascist state I feel a duty to sound out these warnings of impending national disaster. As a citizen of the United States I have the Constitutional right to loudly protest what our unelected administration is doing and expose the negligence of many representatives in our irresponsible Congress. After reading the following astonishing front page statements in our mainstream press, I felt I was back under Mussolini in fascist Italy:
Congress clasped Israel in a warm embrace on Thursday, passing resolutions of support for the Jewish state and blessing its recent military campaign as an attempt at « dismantling the terrorist infrastructure » in Palestinian territory…« Let every terrorist know, the American people will never abandon freedom, democracy or Israel, » said Texas Rep Tom DeLay. « Recent attacks directed against Israelis, » the House GOP whip added, « are attacks against liberty, and all free people must recognize that Israel’s fight is our fight. »
How dare Tom Delay speak for “free people” and how dare this sweat shop promoter utter sacred words like « freedom » and « democracy » and in the same breath support the massacre of Palestinians with weapons funded by the American taxpayer – in arrant violation of laws regarding arms sales to Israel which are to be used for defense purposes only – not to attack, destroy, and murder innocent people.
I am sick and tired of hearing cheap accusations of “anti-Semitism” belched helter-skelter, shotgun fashion, against U.S. citizens who dare criticize anything Jewish. If we say we don’t like lox and bagels or can’t stand matzo ball soup, we are called anti-Semitic. Jews who all too easily accuse others of being Anti-Semitic are invariably racist toward other ethnic groups, especially Arabs, who are also Semites! To be anti any one race is to be antihuman.
The Jewish Holocaust was unquestionably a tragedy of epic proportions and Jews are correct to do all they can so the world doesn’t forget, but they, of all people, should not be the ones to imitate or repeat the aggression, torture, imprisonment, or persecution they suffered during those evil times. Unfortunately, it seems that the Israeli government and many American Jews have forgotten or choose to disregard history. Fortunately, not all have fallen to this Nazi level of evil and many are protesting Israel’s heightened aggression.
Sharon is a terrorist beast of old standing who behaves like a Nazi. Now he, like they, is trying to hide evidence of brutal massacres and to prevent an investigation by the UN in collusion with the U.S. Isn’t that why America talks about a summer conference – to give Israel time to conceal its staggering new human holocaust? Mighty Israel and mighty America in self-righteous pursuit of revenge have fallen to the same low level of terrorist actions as those they want to prevent and in so doing fertilize the ground of evil.
If our civilization could see the world as my Jewish friend so eloquently wrote: « I believe in a spiritual universe that emanates from an ineffably numinous source in which each of us plays an important role, » then all lives would be sacred: the African, the Caucasian, the Asian, the Polynesian. As human beings each of us can be objective only when we hold no secret presumption of being superior by race, gender, or in any other way. To feel superior because an infantile image of God makes us believe that the Numinous Source, the Infinite Principle that manifested the Universe, is a God so petty as to choose only our tribe above all others – this fanatical interpretation by Jews, Christians, and Moslems alike has been the cause of centuries of evil and injustice.
Only when we understand the irrefragable reality of equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all humans will we find the way of peace and the energy and resources to turn this planet back into an abundant Garden.