Horror Show

I had plans to write a post for the end of October with this Halloween-themed title, but it serves just as well for the end of the whole year. The seamless transition from war in Ukraine to the events in Gaza that month were enough to leave anyone aghast, but as time has gone on it’s been clear that different people are aghast about different things.

I don’t expect anyone’s mind to be changed by a post on a little-read blog, but Avi Shlaim (archived) and Masha Gessen (archived) make the case that needs to be made. Netanyahu expects his war to continue for months, even though it’s already left over twenty thousand Palestinians dead and displaced almost the entire population of Gaza from their homes. One of his government ministers has envisioned reducing the strip to barely five percent of its pre-war population, ready for Israeli settlers to move in and “make the desert bloom”, a vision of ethnic cleansing as indefensible as Hamas’s terrorist killing spree in early October. The century-long colonial project of Israel, given the seal of approval by the nineteenth-century masters of colonialism, has proven as destructive as most other examples through the ages.

Meanwhile, the breakdown of climate systems threatens to bring global catastrophe years sooner than expected, which will make religious and nationalist wars look trivial by comparison.

On the personal front, 2023 has been pretty horrible too. I’ve been wondering for months—if not years—how to write about it, but as it isn’t my story alone to tell I’ve held off. I don’t know if I’ll find a way to do so in 2024; little-read blog or not, there’s too much risk of saying the wrong thing, and the rewards are doubtful.

31 December 2023 · Journal