The Impossibility of Simply Moving On: Essay On the Hamas Attack and the Atrocity Images It Generated

Its genocidal message with direct links to the Holocaust distinguishes October 7 from previous attacks on Israel.

Following the heinous Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, which implicated a “genocidal message” (Dan Diner), many people, especially critical intellectuals, did not hesitate for a moment in their startling haste to move on to the agenda of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They urged a proportional response, pointing out that one massacre did not justify another, and that the Palestinian population in Gaza should not pay the price for Hamas’ crimes, crimes which they papered over with astonishing speed, while we were still struggling to process the images and accounts of the murdered, the survivors, the displaced and the rescuers.
The brutality of October 7 is in a separate category from the at times extremely brutal attacks and assassinations that occurred during the many years of Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. By all appearances, these heinous crimes were explicitly intended to remind the Israeli population of the Holocaust. The associations evoked by the atrocities were not a haphazard reference to past events. October 7 was intended to convey to the Israeli public with the help of body cams, live streams and a veritable flood of humiliating selfies and videos quite explicitly and directly that a new Holocaust could happen again at any time.
The new quality and the scale of these massacres were aimed at bringing about the obliteration of both an individual and a collective sense of security. The crimes targeted the very heart of the basic human need to trust that we feel safe in the world, an experience that Dan Diner once described as a “civilizational rupture” in reference to the Shoah.
This essay reflects on the new quality of violence imposed by Hamas on October 7, and on the inabilities and unwillingness of public intellectuals and academic scholars to acknowledge that the history of the Holocaust is not a distant memory, but that references to National Socialism in the past are now deliberately employed as a component of this new genocidal violence.

Deborah Hartmann, Tobias Ebbrech-Hartmann: The Impossibility of Simply Moving On: Essay On the Hamas Attack and the Atrocity Images It Generated (November 24, 2023). This essay has first been published in German in taz, November 11, 2023 (!5967960/). Translation by Jill Kreuer, Vienna.
Article cover
Green Open Access