In its hypocritical way, Europe only blames itself for few of the horrors it wrought in Africa and Asia. The crimes of the Italians were attributed to fascism. French culture almost never recalls its crimes, tossing off the slogan je m’en fous (what do I care?).
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The English read “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad as a description of Belgian horrors. But ever since it was “liberated,” the Europeans have earned trillions from Africa through corrupt oligarchies and denied responsibility for its ongoing destruction. When they needed labor, they allowed their former subjects to work for them and fund their welfare states.
The Israelis, who matured with that neo-colonialism, whitewashed everything in the name of enlightened Westernism. Breast-beating about the sins of a previous war gets in the way of the next war.
Instead of “Apocalypse Now,” Hollywood created “Rambo,” and even as numerous disabled Vietnam veterans remained drugged in their hovels, the United States launched Operation Urgent Fury - the invasion of Grenada - on October 25, 1983, to defend itself against communism and preserve freedom – in other words, the previous ruler. That occupation involved 5,000 soldiers. Five hundred of them got medals. The crowds celebrating in the streets had no idea where Grenada is or how large it was (at the time its population was 91,000), and certainly didn’t realize that 120 of its troops had been killed - as always when it comes to ground battles away from Hollywood. Just as Rambo was returning, there emerged an even more important figure of neo-capitalism – J.R. Ewing of “Dallas,” the heel people loved to hate, then a new concept in American TV.
Europe, meanwhile, condemned the occupation of the tiny island. Between the conquest of Grenada and the bombing of Iraq in early 1991, the West prepared for the next stage of neo-capitalism. The “free world” had triumphed, communism was dead, and one was able to suck out everything and then throw it away.
That’s also how the Arab world was destroyed. It’s enough to look at issues of our newspapers from the fall of 1990 to see how the expectations were carefully laid for the war in Iraq, which broke out in the middle of January 1991. Israel celebrated its victimhood after being hit by a few missiles; Prof. Moshe Zuckermann called it “The Holocaust in the sealed room,” in his excellent book by that name. By the way, the West sold gas to Saddam Hussein to suffocate Iranians. Some of our best guys sold weapons to Africa and mined diamonds there. Gal Hirsch is a poodle next to them.
Every violation of the sanctions the West imposed on the devastated Iraq was reported in our media. Infant mortality was not, and the country’s disintegration didn’t interest us.
During those years of “the end of history,” the West also developed a “Holocaust culture” of distant mass death. As the protagonists of that story, we participated in the huge fraud of chemical weapons in Iraq; we celebrated the conquest that brought about the fall of Saddam. Freedom. After all, we are part of the free world. Death outside, deodorant at home.
Who today, amidst the daily tragedies in Iraq or Syria, recalls his own opinion then regarding “freedom”? Who thinks about Libya? Who now occupies it? For what reason? Who even cares? How easy it is to blame the victims.
Now the desert is threatening Europe; the hunger, the poverty, the children shrunken against their mothers’ bosoms are landing on its shores, or drowning en route. Now the West is recognizing “the problem.” There are too many foreigners out of place. The money that accumulated in huge piles was not meant for them. And the dead also stink. As Bertolt Brecht wrote, the rich are mighty enough to create poverty, but not mighty enough to suffer it. And we, who are pleased to belong to the “free world” and the Western death machine, are even more pleased when Europe puts its refugees in camps.
And when Europe screams, “the refugees are dying,” we go into a huddle; we are ourselves a nation of refugees, and are very sensitive to the smell of corpses. That’s why we’ll continue to oppress our African refugees in our own special bureaucratic way, Kafka is ours after all, or, as it is written in the Talmudic tractate Yevamot: “There are three signs of this nation: They are merciful, bashful, and purveyors of kindness.”