The effectiveness of policies of elimination requires two conditions: mass killings and varying degrees of violence on the one hand, and a supportive or complicit public on the other. Israel has both.
The phenomenon known as “settler violence” is a daily and endless sequence of assaults, of which only the tip of the iceberg ever reaches the Israeli media. Under the banner of a “war on terror,” soldiers can commit intolerable crimes, many of which, too, are rarely reported. The mass of the crimes, their frequency, their pervasiveness, and the explicit endorsement of them by Israel’s leadership and public opinion, are all designed to produce a reality in which the law of elimination becomes a law of nature.
Netanyahu, a prominent figure in Israeli politics, has less than a month to form a coalition, which will be the most right-wing in the history of Israel. It is set to include two ultra-Orthodox parties and the Jewish supremacist and anti-Arab Religious Zionism party (RZP). “The plans we hear from the next government are very dangerous,” Palestinian Osama Farid tells Efe. “The international community must act before it is too late because they seek to commit genocide against Palestinians, make us disappear to take control of our lands and take over our geographical area,” he adds.
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These discourses of cultural cleansing and cultural genocide suffer from their focus upon the symbolic cultural heritage, which solely refers to one layer of urban destruction, the deliberate destruction of cultural artefacts. In other words, it focuses only upon the buildings whose loss is judged to be a cultural loss. However, the urban environment normally experiences more widespread destruction than these symbolic buildings. From the Bosnian history of cultural destruction it is evident that hundreds of other types of buildings were subject to destruction–for example, houses in Mostar Old Town and in many of the villages in Bosnia. The same can be noted in the Palestinian history of urban destruction–for example, Nablus old town (more details on Nablus are analyzed in Chapter 6). Indeed, urban destruction encompasses buildings that have no distinctive cultural value, or are of distinct cultural provenance. Thus the interpretation of urban destruction as an attack o cultural heritage provides only a partial (though striking) account of the destruction of the urban environment in Bosnia among other cases; it does not account for the scare of destruction or targeting of buildings that are not recognizable as such symbols of culture. Thus, cultural cleansing and cultural genocide are only partially reflecting the process of urban destruction; they reflect the destruction of cultural artefacts, but this destruction does not take place in a pure form or apart from the destruction of other types of urban environment.
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