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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Becoming the enemy

Beware your enemies. They slowly become part of you,

An enemy is somebody who is too intimate, too close, with whom you exchange your hate, and your fear, and with whom you make alliances in order to keep fighting. one cannot be at an arm's distance with their enemies, as they compel, they force their presence, they are engaged in a relation of becoming. Becoming has no contract and takes place through contact - and intimate contact triggered by a sustained and focused hate is sometimes all it takes. Anthropologist Viveiros de Castro has a piece on groups in the low Amazon that are aware of their choice of enemies: they will end up eating them up.

In Cairo and Beirut I keep bumping into a lot of the gestures that I find in the Israelis, those who eat (Lebanese) Houmous with (Egyptian) Tahine. Beware of your enemy, beware of what you eat. The israeli is also a product of their enemies.

It is common now to point out that the Israelis act in ways that resemble the Germans. In particular, the state itself is still built on race-based lines (I like the analysis Schlomo Sand does of all this). It is supposed to be the homeland of the Jews, understood pretty much as a race (the conversion issue is something that makes all the Israeli government uncomfortable, see the reaction their reaction to Sand's book). The Jews, like nomadic Zeligs, endorse the gestures and mores of those who host them - in peace or in war.

Now, The Israelis have become amazingly like their neighbours-enemies, they act like them. So I find our how much like Beirut is Tel-Aviv. Maybe a bit of the low Amazon wisdom will help them understand that, for instance, there is indeed bliss as there are blindspots in becoming increasingly middle eastern.

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