Critique In Hysterical Times

This is a slightly edited version of an essay that was published in The Black Book of FYTA, ed. Athanasios Anagnostopoulos & FYTA (Athens: Nefeli, 2017), 34-40, a collection marking the fifth anniversary of the conceptual audiotextual performance duo FYTA. It was written in February 2017 and revised in April. Think of it as bits of the year gone by. Thanks to FYTA for the invitation to write this, and to Jordan Osserman for useful chats.

In their performance/situation entitled ‘nEUROlogy’, presented at Geneva’s Bâtiment d’Art Contemporain in October 2015, FYTA attempted a far-right medico-theological resuscitation of the European project. The performance was staged in a confined room that FYTA describe as ‘something between the basement of a cult and Clockwork Orange’s reform clinic’—perhaps as apt a description as any of the contemporary European Union as seen from the perspective of its more disgruntled members. In Part I of this triptych, entitled ‘Eden’, FYTA assume the role of the high priests of the European right. Dressed in the red robes of cardinals, they stand before the altar of ‘Europe’, performing the rituals and incantations on which its very sustenance seems to depend. The soundscape of the performance in this segment is revealing in the way FYTA give voice to the utterly banal sentiments of xenophobic nationalists (‘Our environment is our home, our blood is what connects us to the soil, earth is our blood; when we defend our land we defend our blood’) against a disorienting musical backdrop of what sounds like Mongolian throat singing—as if to draw attention to the naturalisation of the arbitrary that is constitutive of all nationalisms. In Part II (‘The Garden’), Europe lies prostrate on a stretcher, covered by her flag. She might be dead, although the beep of machinery suggests life support. Here FYTA appear in the garb of medics who, even as they mill around the patient to no great effect, intone ‘we must remain free’. On the wall hangs a sign that reads ‘Rester Frei!’, the unfamiliar linguistic mashup seeming to gesture at the discontents of Franco-German alliance (or maybe this is just how the Swiss speak). Who killed Europe? On this question the cardinals are unambiguous: barbarians, cultural relativism, immigrants (‘how many people can you fit in the smallest of all continents!’), Islam. On the ground lies a pile of blood spattered posters—mass-produced, as if for a large protest—that read ‘Je suis Voltaire’. Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’, the Anthem of Europe, ushers in Part III (‘Hell’). One thinks of the orchestra of the Titanic playing music to calm the passengers as the ship sinks.

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Ethics in the Service of Violence in Israel/Palestine

A guest post from James Eastwood. James is a PhD candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). This post is partly based on his latest article, ‘”Meaningful Service”: Pedagogy at Israeli Pre-Military Academies and the Ethics of Militarism’, forthcoming in the European Journal of International Relations.


Die you fuck, die you son of a whore, die, die, die you son of 66 whores.

These are the words that Ahmad Salih Manasra, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, heard as he lay bleeding in the street on 12th October 2015. The insults were yelled by an Israeli passer-by, who recorded the child on video as he lay helpless on the ground. Ahmad was taken to hospital in a critical condition. His cousin Hasan Khalid, who was shot at the same time, is dead.

Israeli police later released a video depicting the alleged chain of events leading up to these incidents. It shows two young boys carrying knives attempting to attack a passer-by, followed by an alleged stabbing which takes place off-camera. In the ensuing pursuit, the elder of the two boys – Hasan – appears to run at the police with a knife. They shoot him dead, without attempting to immobilise him. According to Israeli media, Ahmad was hit by a car as he ran away. But the video circulated on social media shows him lying some distance from the road on a tramline. Palestinian news sources, which had originally claimed that Ahmad was shot dead, now suggest that he was run down by an Israeli patrol car and then beaten.

The graphic video of Ahmad Manasra is only the most shocking to emerge from a series of shootings of Palestinians by Israeli police and soldiers as they scramble to respond to a spate of un-coordinated knife-attacks. 50 Palestinians have been shot dead since the beginning of October, with hundreds more injured. Meanwhile, 9 Israelis have been killed in stabbing and traffic ramming incidents, with dozens more wounded. Last Tuesday witnessed the most serious escalation of the attacks, with separate incidents occurring almost simultaneously across Israel and the occupied territories. Protests have erupted in the West Bank and Gaza, while Israeli authorities have ramped up police and military presences and have introduced checkpoints and barriers around Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem.

The wave of public panic over the stabbings has re-ignited a longrunning controversy in Israel over the rules of engagement for police officers and soldiers dealing with suspects, wanted assailants, and protestors.

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