Nationalism from a distance, or, how it looks so ugly and absurd from here

I’m heading home tomorrow night, as long as the airport is still functioning.

Tonight, we had pasta and wine and in the course of our conversation -which of course sloped political, but not only “our” political, ie., not only about Israel-Palestine- a lovely friend of my friend, who has spent time in Istanbul, showed us a propoganda video put out by the ruling AKP in preparation for upcoming elections:

Watching it, we couldn’t not laugh. Does anyone actually buy into this? It’s creepy, poorly made, populist, bizarre. Who cares about a stupid piece of cloth? Let the flag fall. But of course people buy into it. And we had our own video to respond with:

Our little clip is replete with orientalist stereotypes and a rapid-speed GI Joe style LOOK AT HOW BIG OUR GUNS ARE montage that would make many-an-insecure thirteen year old boy’s mouth water. Does anyone actually buy into this? Of course they do.

And then I checked my email, and saw a news article about Hamas’ music video, sung in strange Hebrew and set to catchy music as it flickers over images of their own glorified gunmen and rockets being shot at Israel.

And it all just looks absurd. But sitting in Germany, of all places, of course I am aware of how easy a society can be swept away by absurd, low-quality nationalism and stupid flags and the sight of guns and a dehumanized Other who becomes The Enemy. I know I need not take it there to “make my point.” It’s just where my mind took me, on this chilly and lovely and strange evening in West Berlin. It looks absurd from here, today, where thousands and thousands of people take to the streets to counter-demonstrate each time a small group of right-wing fascists gathers in public. And the result is that the right-wing fascists’ action ends up looking like exactly what it us: Pathetic narrowness. Self-loathing absurdity. Manipulated magnified fear.

Take down the flags. No piece of cloth is worth more than any human life.

Like the human lives, taken in the last five days by my government and its military while waving a flag and blabbering tropes that are about as believable as the videos above. These cloths are so soaked with blood, how can we still let them fly? Their names were:

Mohammed Sha’aban, Ahmad Sha’aban, Khadir al-Bashiliki, Rashad Yaseen,  Riad Mohammed Kawareh, Seraj Ayad Abed al-A’al, Mohammed Ayman Ashour, Bakr Mohammed Joudah, Ammar Mohammed Joudah, Hussein Yousef Kawareh, Mohammed Ibrahim Kawareh, Bassim Salim Kawareh, Mousa Habib, Mohammed Habib, Sakr Aysh al-Ajouri, Ahmad Na’el Mehdi, Hafiz Mohammed Hamad, Ibrahim Mohammed Hamad, Mehdi Mohammed Hamad, Fawzia Khalil Hamad, Dunia Mehdi Hamad, Suha Hamad, Suleiman Salman Abu Soaween, Abdelhadi Jamaat al-Sufi, Naifeh Farjallah, Abdelnasser Abu Kweek, Khaled Abu Kweek, Mohammed Areef, Amir Areef, Mohammed Malakiyeh, Hana Malakiyeh, Hatem Abu Salem, Mohammed Khaled al-Nimri, Sahar Hamdan, Ibrahim Masri, Mahmoud Nahid al-Nawasra, Mohammed Khalaf al-Nawasra, Nidal Khalaf al-Nawasra al-Meghazi, Salah Awwad al-Nawasra al-Meghazi, Aisha Nijm al-Meghazi, Amal Youssef Abdel Ghafour, Ranim Jawde Abdel Ghafour, Rashid al-Kafarneh, Ibrahim Daoud al-Balawi, Abdelrahman Jamal al-Zamli, Ibrahim Ahmad Abideen, Mustafa Abu Mar, Khalid Abu Mar, Mazen Farj al-Jarbah, Marwan Slim, Hani Saleh Hamad, Ibrahim Hamad, Salima Hassan Musallim al-Arja, Maryam Atieh Mohammed al-Arja, Hamad Shahab, Ibrahim Khalil Qanun, Mohammed Khalil Qanun, Hamdi Badieh Sawali, Ahmad Sawali, Suleiman Salim al-Astal, Mohammed al-Aqqad, Ra’ed Shalat, Asma Mahmoud al-Hajj, Basmah Abdelfattah al-Hajj, Mahmoud Lutfi al-Hajj, Tarek Mahmoud al-Hajj, Sa’ad Mahmoud al-Hajj, Najla Mahmoud al-Hajj, Fatima Mahmoud al-Hajj, Omar Mahmoud al-Hajj, Ahmad Salim al-Astal, Mousa Mohammed al-Astal, Ra’ed al-Zawareh, Baha’ Abu al-Leil, Salim Qandil, Omar al-Fyumi, Abdullah Ramadan Abu Ghazzal, Ismail Hassan Abu Jamah, Hassan Awda Abu Jamah, Mohammed Ahsan Ferwanah, Yasmin Mohammed Mutawwaq, Mahmoud Wulud, Hazem Balousha, Nour Rafik Adi al-Sultan, Ahmad Zaher Hamdan, Mohammed Kamal al-Kahlout, Sami Adnan Shaldan, Jamah Atieh Shalouf, Bassem Abdelrahman Khattab, Abdullah Mustafa Abu Mahrouk, Anas Rizk Abu al-Kas, Nour Marwan al-Najdi, Mohammed Mounir Ashour, Ghalia Deeb Jabr al-Ghanam, Wasim Abd al-Rizk Hassan al-Ghanam, Mahmoud Abd al-Rizk Hassan al-Ghanam, Kifah Shahada Deeb al-Ghanam, Ra’ed Hani Abu Hani, Shahraman Ismail Abu al-Kas, Mazen Mustafa Aslan, Mohammed Rabih Abu Humeidan, Abdel Halim Ashra, Saher Abu Namous, Hussein al-Mamlouk, Saber Sukkar, Nasser Rabih Mohammed Samamah, Rami Abu Massaad, Mohammed al-Samiri, Houssam Deeb al-Razayneh, Anas Youssef Kandil, Abdel Rahim Saleh al-Khatib, Youssef Mohammed Kandil, Mohammed Idriss Abu Saninah, Hala Wishahi, Suha Abu Saade, Ali Nabil Basal, Mohammed Bassem al-Halabi, Mohammed al-Sowayti (Abu Askar), Ibrahim Nabil Humaide, Hassan Ahmed Abu Ghoush and Ahmed Mazen al-Ballaoui.

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Our choices: swarm the flag, aim the guns, or create a human chain against all forms of dehumanizing nationalism
Our choices: swarm the flag, aim the guns, or create a human chain against all forms of dehumanizing nationalism


The above names came from +972 Magazine, whose efforts to mention by name every person killed in this latest flood of violence is one of many things that sets them apart from the cynicism, obsequiousness and coldness of most of the media covering this issue, and is one of many reasons that a reader searching for serious, informed, humane writing and analysis in English in these dark days should bookmark, turn to and then return to +972 Magazine