When it comes to comics, namely the X-men, there is one character that I find tends to be more compelling than all the others: Magneto.
There’s a couple reasons for this. One, he’s probably one of the strongest people in the Marvel universe. Two, his “fall to villainy” is one of the most understandable in the history of literature. He was a Jew who watched his entire family die in the Holocaust, who was tortured and studied by Nazi scientists, and who when he discovered he wasn’t alone, but part of a Mutant Race that was going to face persecutions as bad as that of the Jews swore he would never allow it to happen again.
Slowly, his quest to defend his people turned into a war. Believing that humanity would attempt to wipe out mutant kind through ethnic cleansing, he decided the only way to save his people was to exterminate non-mutant humanity first. And in the history of Marvel comics, well, he hasn’t exactly been wrong. Time and again, humanity fought to wipe out mutant kind and while the X-men were the ones who often stopped it from happening, it was still attempted.
No man is born a monster, but he is often forged into one.
Yesterday I posted an article about why I support Israel in this current conflict. This is not, I understand, a very popular opinion. My fellow Blogger Cassie gave me a link that’s a concise (very concise) history of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. It’s a little bit biased (for example, when it talks about the Intefada of ’87 it states only that the Palestinians threw rocks, neglecting to mention that there was a massive amount of suicide bombings and other attacks) but it serves well enough if you don’t want a lot of details and need to catch up.
One thing I did read today on facebook is that apparently some Israeli state officials are voicing the private opinion that the Palestinians need to be exterminated. Many were quickly to point out the irony (hope I’m using that right) of a people whose extermination has been repeatedly attempted now wanting to exterminate an unwanted populace. Interestingly enough, few comment on the fact that the Palestinian people have been trying to exterminate the Jews since they first even got a state.
It is, I suppose a state of Mutual Extermination. Essentially, we are talking about the same kind of deal as what happened with Magneto. Because this isn’t just an Israeli-Palestinian war, this is an Israeli-Arab war, with Israel for its 70 or so year existence constantly being attacked in attempts to exterminate it. A minority population faces extinction through overwhelming odds and after three or four generations its people have been bred to know that if they don’t wipe out the people trying to kill them, they will be wiped out. And don’t kid yourselves, the only reason we are having this conversation right now is because Israel has proven itself so talented and merciless in the art of war. If they hadn’t, we wouldn’t be talking about “Those Israeli bastards murdering children.”
If we spoke of them at all it would be more along the lines of “You remember when the Jews all wanted a state and they all died? Poor Jews, those Arab concentration camps were as bad as Auschwitz, and I hear that the UN still can’t find all the mass graves.”
We all live in countries that do not have war. Yes, America has been at war for the last decade and a half, but it is a distant war. We do not have to fear stepping on a bus or driving our cars, or wondering if our homes and loved ones will be there when we get back as the Israelis do. We have not had to live under such conditions since our grandparents were young. Europe as a whole hasn’t engaged in any real military actions since WWII, leaving America to deal with all the violence in the world as the European Nations sat around and mused about how peace was best at any cost and that violence and war were never the answers. For three generations European nations have not truly known violence, while America has know violence at a distance (thus why many older Americans support Israel, for we know of violence at least). Israel has lived in war for 70+ years.
To put it simply, I believe Europeans have achieved a philosophical state where they believe oppression of any kind is wrong, and that those who are oppressed are victims in need of being defended. Since Israel is oppressing the Palestinians, Israel is in the wrong. America believes oppression is wrong, but that sometimes (such as in the case of criminal behavior) punishment is warranted. Since the Palestinians have a 70+ year history of murdering Israeli civilians, we are more tolerant of Israeli actions against Palestinians, though we do not give a flat pass.
Israel, after 70+ years of watching fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and everyone else die has elements that are starting to feel that they have no more room for mercy, no more room for peace. There is not an Israeli out there who has not lost multiple family members to Palestinian terrorism, or Arab violence. Imagine what that must be like, for three generations to watch your family members be murdered simply because you are a Jew. The same story that has been played for a thousand years, two thousand, three? And you’re living it, every day.
Magneto in the comics is a Jew, and he paints a very important lesson to us all. You cannot oppress a people for thousands of years, attempt their extermination, and not expect them to eventually reach the point where they say enough is enough. Where they finally stop attempting coexistence and peace and start to believe that the only way they will survive is by exterminating the people trying to wipe them off the face of the planet.
I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m a Heathen and family is the foundation of our religion. Maybe it’s because for a decade I lived as an Evil person. Maybe it’s because i can understand all to well what creates people like Magneto. Maybe its because I have studied and learned that what is happening there with the Palestinians is moving outside and into places like Europe, where Muslim violence isn’t shrinking, it’s growing.* Maybe it doesn’t really matter why, but I understand why Israel does what it does. A state, a government, a nation, is a living organism that fights to survive.
Humanity forges monsters. If the Palestinians are faced with an Israeli monster, then it is only because the Palestinians, the Egyptians, Syrians, Iraqis, Iranis, and all the other Arabs have forged that monster from the iron smelted by the Nazi holocaust machine those Arabs supported and cheered on.
Can I blame Magneto? Can I judge him? Or can I admit that in the same place, I might not be even worse than he.
I think I can. I think…I have.
Because if there is ever a Heathen nation, and it ever found itself in the same place Israel has found itself, I cannot say that I would not burn the world to keep my kin safe.
*There are enough documented reports about Muslim on European violence to make anyone worry. The nature of this violence when you actually study it is terrifying, from the murder of artists who draw the Muslim prophet, to the systematic kidnapping, drugging, and prostitution of underage European girls, to the fact that Sweden is now the rape capital of the world and the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are Muslim men on native women. And those are just three of literally hundreds of examples I have read.