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Human sacrifice 2019, and his name was Khashoggi

Friday, September 13th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — on the half-hidden motivation that gives glee to an act of outright butchery ]
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My source:

There’s a lot that is, as the title suggests, gruesome here, both in the telling, and in the deeds and conversations that are told.

One comment stood out for me, however, as a student of religions, and one whose studies indicate that religious drivers are to be taken more seriously in wars and other forms of violence than our cynical, skeptical, secular world is prone to believe. Here it is:

At the end of the conversation, Mutreb asks whether the “animal to be sacrificed” has arrived. At 1:14 p.m., an unidentified member of the hit squad says “[he] is here.”

I don’t want to be needlessly literalistic about the point I’m making, because I don’t mean it to be taken literally, and couldn’t quite explain how to take it — except seriously. But here it is:

human > animal > sacrifice — this is a very potent & archetypal set of transforms

Seeing humans — Jews, for instance — as animals make it much easier to kill them en masse — as in the Shoah, for example. That part of the psychology of Khashoggi‘s killers is easily understood in the wake of the Nazi atrocities, the Khmer killings, the Rwandan massacre — and genocides in general.

What is perhapos harder for us to come to grips with is the power of the third element — sacrifice.

Sacrifice — the word means making sacred — invokes what Paul Tillich calls ultimate concern, which corresponds to the notion of existential threat with an added dimension..

It gives participants the sense they are not only facing a life and death situation, but one involving the better angels vs the deepest depths of despair.

People who are moved at this level tend to move decisively on those impulses.

That’s — more or less — what I meant to suggest.

Princes & saws DoubleQuote

Monday, November 19th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — not exactly a knife (or sayf) to a gunfight, but .. ]
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Here:

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The obvious MBS DoubleQuote is with Jared Kushner, as in the Medium article, Two Princes: Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman. Prince Hamlet offers a third and more ambiguous choice..

When the wind is southerly, Hamlet [Act 2 Scene 2] says, I know a hawk from a handsaw — but tell me, who knows whence [John 3.8] the wind blows?

Talmud for today?

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — two brief surface readings in Talmud, with a request for deeper understanding ]
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As someone brought up with more of a focus on the Beatitudes than the Torah (I know, a huge question with many potential shades of answer opens up when I say that), I was not familiar with this Talmudic aphorism until the drone strikes that killed Anwar al-Awlaki and shortly thereafter his son Abdulrahman brought it to my attention:

Ha-Ba le-Horgekha Hashkem le-Horgo is a teaching of increasing popularity among Israelis. Taken from the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 72:1, its most precise translation is: ‘If someone comes to kill you, get up early to kill him first.’

I imagine it also has relevance to the (presumed) Israeli targeted killing of (eg) Imad Mughniyah..

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Yesterday I came across a second such Talmudic phrase, based on Genesis 50:

The sages derived a principle from this text. Mutar le-shanot mipnei ha-shalom: “It is permitted to tell an untruth (literally, “to change” the facts) for the sake of peace.” A white lie is permitted in Jewish law.

This aphorism may be of interest to bear in mind in the context of Israeli peace negotiations — but more directly (and literally) “it is permitted to change the facts” carries a sidelong resemblance to the concepts of alt-facts & faux news currently infesting our politicians and media…

Sources:

  • Jewish Quarterly, Kill him first
  • Rabbi Sacks, When is it Permitted to Tell a Lie?
  • ^^

    Knowing the Talmud to be deeper and richer than my own understanding by many orders of magnitude, I’d like to invite commentary on these or other aspects of Talmudic thought that may play, directly or indirectly, into national security issues.

    On targeting as a mood this electoral season, 1

    Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — the only virtue I can see in this darkness is that the light contrasts with it ]
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    I find this frankly horrifying:

    This, at a supposedly Christian university?

    Feh.

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    Mark you, I think targeting an individual — any individual –in this way is very different from targeting contested seats in an election. I can understand both Democrats and Republicans using the imagery of targets or cross-hairs to suggest where they’d like their supporters to get active, get out the vote and win seats..

    acceptable-or-not

    I said as much in On sneers, smears, and mutual sniping:

    Neither “targetting” political adversaries nor “having them in your crosshairs” equates to killing or there would have been a whole lot more attempted assassinations — just the one was bad enough.

    Have some proportion, people.

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    However, as an inveterate DoubleTweeter I have to say that pinning targets or cross-hairs on individual leaders in highly charged political disputes speaks a wholly different language, and presents a far higher threat level, than targeting districts on an electoral map:

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    For the record, I find this no less offensive:

    trump-target


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