giovedì 13 dicembre 2012

The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza by Eyal Weizman - Verso Books, Uk, June 2012,

The Least of All Possible Evils: Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza

Groundbreaking exploration of the philosophy underpinning Western humanitarian intervention.
The principle of the “lesser evil”—the acceptability of pursuing one exceptional course of action in order to prevent a greater injustice—has long been a cornerstone of Western ethical philosophy. From its roots in classical ethics and Christian theology, to Hannah Arendt’s exploration of the work of the Jewish Councils during the Nazi regime, Weizman explores its development in three key transformations of the problem: the defining intervention of Médecins Sans Frontières in mid-1980s Ethiopia; the separation wall in Israel-Palestine; and international and human rights law in Bosnia, Gaza and Iraq. Drawing on a wealth of new research, Weizman charts the latest manifestation of this age-old idea. In doing so he shows how military and political intervention acquired a new “humanitarian” acceptability and legality in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Eyal Weizman is Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he directs the Centre for Research Architecture and the European Research Council funded project Forensic Architecture. He is also a founder member of the collective Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency (DAAR) in Bethlehem, Palestine. He is the author of Hollow LandThe Least of All Possible Evils, and co-editor of A Civilian Occupation. He lives in London.

In this extract from The Least of All Possible Evils, Eyal Weizman details the dyanamic of the transport of provisions between Israel and Gaza, comparing it to a reverse Milgram experiment—a classic psychological experiment in power and authority and the capacity to inflict pain on ordinary people.

The legal petition against the further reduction of provisions into Gaza was rejected at the end of January 2008. ‘This is the difference between Israel, a democracy fighting for its life within the framework of the law, and the terrorist organizations fighting against it,’ the High Court stated, as if it were a state spokesperson. The court performed the task of an administrator rather than an adjudicator, a partner in the calibration of how much pain Gazans are to be made to legitimately feel. As such, acts of torture and terror aimed at forcing civilians into political compliance conferred on their makers a dignified image. Those proportionaly admin- istering the level of pain could now see themselves as being responsible for the necessary and tragic task of calculating and responsibly choosing the lesser of all possible evils.

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