Language is Always a Weapon

I would like to wish you a happy new year, but let’s not be stupid.
Mural dated 2010 in the Aida refugee camp just outside Bethlehem: “WE CAN’T LIVE. So We Are Waiting For Death.”
image: Ben Ehrenreich

by Ben Ehrenreich

I would like to wish you a happy new year, but let’s not be stupid. Last year was a bad one and this one is not looking great. I am talking especially about the final three months of 2023. About more than 25,000 deaths, maybe 30,000 by the time you read this. About hunger, and hospitals bombed, over and over, and whole neighborhoods turned to rubble, and so many children’s bodies, light and still in their parents’ arms. And though writing has been the tool that in the past allowed me to crawl through every darkness, I have had a hard time writing my way through this one. Or writing at all. Or even imagining the possibility of seeing through it to some other side. What other side could we consent to live in if it was in any way continuous with this?

It is not just these horrors that have blinded me, but the rank fog of lies with which they have been covered. By Israel’s government and propaganda apparatus, of course, but also by our own, by the dull-eyed and doddering lesser-of-two-evils we unenthusiastically elected—and by almost the entirety of U.S. corporate media, which faithfully parrots and legitimizes even the laziest IDF talking points: they bombed themselves, they had a command center hidden in the hospital, they were all terrorists anyway, and to question any of this just shows your anti-Semitism. All of it stinks. It stings the eyes and burns the throat. 

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