(Author’s note: If you have read C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters,” you will recognize what is going on here. If you haven’t, then let it suffice to say that Screwdisk …
(Author’s note: If you have read C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters,” you will recognize what is going on here. If you haven’t, then let it suffice to say that Screwdisk is a senior devil—the senior vice president of sales and acquisitions for North America, to be precise—who is mentoring his young nephew Scumbucket. Other letters can be found at www.screwdisk.wordpress.com.)
My dear nephew,
Here in the Infernal Realms, we are rarely surprised, much less thrilled and delighted, by events in the human world. And we certainly were not surprised to see another flareup between the Israelis and the Palestinian group Hamas.
After all, they have between them provided us with many a tasty meal, especially over the last few years—with major conflicts in 2008, 2012 and 2014, as well as all the daily provocations, minor attacks and routine harassments that make up existence in that area.
One wouldn’t be blamed for concluding that the leaders on each side actually enjoy such interactions—they certainly seem to show no signs of being tired of them, or of taking any serious steps to make them less likely.
But there is something different, something special, about what is happening now. Not just the inhuman ferocity of both the initial Hamas action and the Israeli response, but the way that the conflict is causing a flood of emotional responses among humans around the world. It shows every sign of spreading further, and lasting longer, than any similar situation that I can remember.
For us, this isn’t just a meal, it is a feast. A veritable Thanksgiving banquet.
But to gain the fullest benefits, we will have to tend events and reactions carefully. We don’t want to “burn the bacon,” as they say. So keep your clients’ outrage and fear simmering, not boiling. We may have to turn the temperature down a bit—perhaps a small “truce” or “ceasefire” will be allowed—but we shall keep the fires burning.
Our Semantic Branch, which as you know manipulates language, perception and interpretation among the humans, has been doing some astounding work. The borders between the concepts of “the Jewish people,” “the State of Israel,” “the Israeli Government” and “Benjamin Netanyahu” have been almost completely erased, to the extent that any critique of the war’s methodology is now seen by many as anti-Semitic, even as a call for the demolition of the entire Hebrew community.
Similarly, any sympathy for the suffering of the residents of Israel affected by the Hamas attack is painted by the other side as de facto support for a Gazan genocide.
And anyone in the middle, who tries to see the basic humanity on both sides and work toward some kind of just resolution of the conflict, is pilloried by everyone for failing to stand up to clear and present evil. (You will of course recognize this last as a sterling example of the Demonic Double-Bind technique: “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”)
People, after all, love to have an Absolute Enemy, someone that they can hate and dehumanize and hurt and kill without restraint, and with a complete sense of justification. If they find one, they will in fact fight very hard to keep it.
So yes, enjoy the extra treats—but work harder anyway. They may not last forever, you know.
Your not-yet-sated uncle,
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