Hanoch Ben Pazi

On the Monstrous Act of October Seventh (Following Habermas’s response to 9/11)

In his response to the monstrous act of ‘September 11th.’, Jürgen Habermas wrote about the role of “Philosophy in a Time of Terror”. And my thoughts couldn’t stop of reflecting the monstrous events of ‘October Seventh.”

“The monstrous act itself was new.
And I do not just mean the action of the suicide hijackers
who transformed the fully fueled airplanes together with their hostages into living weapons, or even the unbearable number of victims and the dramatic extent of the devastation.

What was new was the symbolic force of the targets struck.

The attackers did not just physically cause the highest buildings in Manhattan to collapse; they also destroyed an icon in the household imagery of the American nation.

Only in the surge of patriotism that followed did one begin to recognize
the central importance the towers held in everyone’s imagination, with their irreplaceable imprint on the Manhattan skyline and their powerful embodiment of economic strength and projection toward the future.

The presence of cameras and of the media was also new, transforming the local event simultaneously into a global one and the whole world population into a benumbed witness.

Perhaps September Eleven could be called the first historic world event
in the strictest sense: the impact, the explosion, the slow collapse—everything that was not Hollywood anymore but, rather, a gruesome reality, literally took place in front of the “universal eyewitness” of a global public.”
(Jürgen Habermas, Philosophy in a Time of Terror)

In this sense, it can be said that “October Seventh” was a a new kind of monstrous act that humanity had not yet encountered. It was not merely a violent act of terrorism, nor was it solely an attempt to damage symbols of Israeliness or to harm Israel’s territory or its army. Instead, its primary purpose was to undermine the essence of humanity—a regression into barbarism more extreme than any acts witnessed in the twenty-two years since September 11th.

Hamas actions on “October Seventh” marked an assault on symbols of humanity that date back to the Enlightenment. This was a deliberate effort to combat modernity, to reject freedom, equality, and advanced technology. Hamas meticulously planned, documented, and publicized their actions through global media and social networks, showcasing horrifying and abominable images. They positioned themselves before the world, declaring their opposition to global values and demonstrating a deliberate intent to harm principles cherished by all of humanity.

Nothing less than that!

** It is evident why it took enlightened intellectuals some time to comprehend the magnitude of the horror and its significance.”

  • The stone and the gun against the most advanced modern technology.
    The sense of failure of the smart wall – – “The hi-tech security barrier that separated the Gaza border from Israel, called “the Smart Wall” in Hebrew the pinnacle of Israeli technological advancement – includes within it the return to a simple and aggressive power that manages to knock it down, , destroy the cameras, and overcome the most advances and sophisticated technological instruments that Israel had invented. What this means: to show is that the power of primitive violence is greater than the power of progress.
  • Sexual violence represents one of the most deplorable forms of harm humanity has ever encountered. Sexual violence undermines the values of freedom and gender equality, rendering the achievements of the gender struggle as failures.
    Sexual violence is a deliberate, calculated assault on the status of women and children. Inexplicably, some of the most articulate advocates of the gender discourse are standing by the Hamas perpetrators of extreme criminal sexual violence.
  • The evil desire to harm the “Image of God” which is in the human;
    and the “Image of the human” which is in God. The malevolent intent to harm the “image of God” within human beings, and the “image of the human” within God, is such a chilling desire, it is difficult to put into words. This unsettling urge seeks to damage the divine reflection seen in the mirror of human existence.
    The desire to mutilate the human body is to deface the divine image inherent in humanity. This is a symbolic gesture of the violation of the dignity of the person as a person, in the humanistic monotheistic belief that says that “all human beings are created in the image of God”.

The horror of “October Seventh” is in setting evil against humanity, a direct affront to human values. It reveals the satanic potential within human beings, demonstrating the willingness to shatter every moral taboo, violate all that is permitted and forbidden, and harm the human image to undermine the image of God.

In contemplating the uniqueness of the October 7th, we must avert our gaze and focus our thoughts on the monstrous implications of the damage inflicted
upon the most significant symbol of all: the image of God. This harm is intended to horrify us all, underscoring the monstrous capacity of humanity to destroy the basis of their humanism.

The attack designed to strike at the heart of humanity. I do not know how to decide on the most difficult question of all, but I know the role assigned to us in the face of this abomination.

We must not give up the great values of humanity!
It is incumbent upon us to fight against their destroyers!

About the Author
Full Professor, Dept. of Jewish Philosophy, Bar ilan University. His research is dedicated to Contemporary Philosophy and Modern Jewish Thought, especially to the philosophical writings and Jewish thought of Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas. His last book "Hebrew Humanism - Humanistic Judaism", Idra Academic Publisher summer 2023
Related Topics
Related Posts