As the British Labour Party leadership is once again the subject of a crisis over its alleged tolerance of anti-semitism, we present an extract from Alain Badiou, Eric Hazan, and Ivan Segré's Reflections on Anti-Semitism. The book dissects the various ways false accusations of anti-Semitism are used to stifle opposition to the Israeli state and to facilitate the subjugation of the Palestinian people. In this extract the authors consider the role of anti-Semitism in contemporary France.
I want to share this account* as a small intervention to re-frame ideas and experiences of violence and terror.
I was an ambulance volunteer during Israel's Operation Cast Lead. It was a 22 day war on the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009 that killed 1409 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. It was the heaviest Israeli attack on Palestinian territory since 1967. The 2014 Gaza War has since eclipsed this in terms of deaths, injury and destruction in Gaza.
On the afternoon of Friday the 16th of January we picked up the body of a man who had just been decapitated by an Israeli air strike.
Dominant cultural narratives on violence in the global north now only see beheading as a terrorist act by ISIS or Al Qaeda or similar groups. The perpetrator is a Muslim. The colonial fantasy of the savage is coming back in to focus.
The role of the state, armed with heavy aerial power – drones, F16s, Apache Helicopters, MIG jets – is not part of the story of beheading. I think it's important to bring the role of states back in to the story, all the more so given that UK air strikes on Syria could be about to intensify.