good neighbors: exterminate the brutes!

Senses of systematic collapse, an implosion borne of an inability to transcend inherent tensions from the use of the “other” as social  safety valve. Moments of madness. Is the point of power ultimately to prolong its use and attenuation while tempting the buffer zone of destructive nihilism? Everyone wants to have the chance to be Esau, to play act out the role and bite Jacob, to chase the dweller of tents with a kiss of death, to be the Edomite of the day. In the end, Esau’s angel will be vanquished, but until then…

(see link at end)…The first Polish film to portray the country’s gentiles committing crimes against their Jewish neighbors has hit movie theaters, generating both enthusiastic praise and threats of violence against one of the stars.

“Aftermath,” written and directed by Polish filmmaker Wladyslaw Pasikowski, is based on the events of the infamous Jedwabne massacre of July 1941, in which nearly all of the town’s Jews were beaten to death or burned alive. Long blamed on the occupying Nazis, the slaughter was later revealed to be the work of ordinary Polish citizens….

—Twenty years after leaving Poland, Franciszek (Ireneusz Czop), a worker from Chicago, comes back to his homeland for the first time. He is worried about his brother Józef (Maciej Stuhr), a farmer from a village in the Masurian Lake District who has been pushed aside by the other inhabitants and whose wife and kids have left for the U.S. When Franciszek arrives, he finds out that matzeivahs (Jewish gravestones) with which Józef reconstructed a Jewish cemetery in his fields have angered other villagers. As the brothers attempt to understand the conflict’s causes, they discover aspects of their own family history. —Read More:

A joint production between Poles and filmmakers from Russia, Holland and Slovakia, the fictional “Aftermath” tells the story of a Polish man who returns home after many years abroad to discover a dark secret about his family’s past – his brother‘s participation in an anti-Jewish massacre. Although the town’s name and other details have been changed, the movie is widely understood to be about Jedwabne, and won the Journalists’ Prize earlier this year at the Gdynia Film Festival, Poland’s most important movie event.Read More:

Joseph Conrad ( Heart of Darkness)…Mind, I am not trying to excuse or even explain–I am trying to account to myself for–for–Mr. Kurtz– for the shade of Mr. Kurtz. This initiated wraith from the back of Nowhere honored me with its amazing confidence before it vanished
altogether. This was because it could speak English to me. The original Kurtz had been educated partly in England, and–as he was good enough to say himself–his sympathies were in the right place. His mother was half-English, his father was half-French. All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz; and by-and-by I learned that,most appropriately, the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs had intrusted him with the making of a report, for its future guidance. And he had written it too. I’ve seen it. I’ve read it. It was eloquent, vibrating with eloquence, but too high-strung, I think. Seventeen pages of close writing he had found time for! But this must have been before his– let us say–nerves, went wrong, and caused him to preside at certain midnight dances ending with unspeakable rites, which–as far as I reluctantly
gathered from what I heard at various times– were offered up to him–do you understand?–to Mr. Kurtz himself….

—Alexandrowicz frames each of these men sitting behind the same desk, literally in front of the “scenes” in which they had a hand: the initiation of new laws for residents of Gaza and the West Bank following the Six-Day War, trials for accused terrorists, the claiming of settlements outside of Jerusalem in the ’70s and ’80s (a project spearheaded by Ariel Sharon, then minister of agriculture), the state’s response to the 1987 Intifada, and the rise of “administrative detention,” a practice whereby any suspected combatant can be held for a renewable six-month period without charge. There’s no mistaking the indignation of the filmmaker’s inquiry into Israeli occupation policy, but it’s tempered at every turn by Alexandrowicz’s wise, repeated acknowledgement that there’s no implicating the policies of these men without implicating himself—that is, without his acknowledging that these laws were written for Israelis.
Broken into chapters, The Law in These Parts begins in 1967 and charts the growth of the law (per the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF) for Arab residents in newly occupied territories. “Ramallah, Tulkarem, Hebron, Jenin, Gaza. At first they were in a state of shock,” says one retired military prosecutor. “They didn’t realize what had happened. It took them six to 12 months to realize things aren’t so bad, and in some respects it’s better than it was before.” —Read More:

…But it was a beautiful piece of writing. The opening paragraph, however, in the light of later information, strikes me now as ominous. He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, `must necessarily appear to them [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings–we approach them with the might as of a deity,’ and so on, and so on. `By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded,’ &c., &c. From that point he soared and took me with him. The peroration was magnificent, though difficult to remember, you know. It gave me the notion of an exotic Immensity ruled by an august Benevolence. It made me tingle with enthusiasm. This was the unbounded power of eloquence–of words– of burning noble words. There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases, unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page, scrawled evidently much later, in an unsteady hand, may be regarded as the exposition of a method. It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: `Exterminate all the brutes!’Read more:

It could really be asked what entered God’s mind when he introduced the serpent into the garden of Eden. The existence of evil, under what can be considered Divine supervision, or even cynically, the unmixed blessing of Occupation is something that has eternally troubled humankind. How free will functions within the context of gravitating towards choosing the fork in the road that leads to unrighteous acts. One aspect that d

not seem to be satisfactorily concluded is over the rival claim of nature and nurture as the source of evil. Are villains, are evil-doers born and not made? ( to be continued)…


(see link at end)…Others have questioned the need for “Aftermath,” however, with one opining, “I have seen enough movies about the persecution of Jews, and I don’t want to watch another.”

Others have gone as far as to threaten one of the film’s stars, claiming “Aftermath” slanders Poland. Maciej Stuhr, who plays one of the brothers, has said he’s been struck by a wave of hostility since the movie’s release. Online attacks have dismissed him as “a Jew, and not a Pole anymore,” and have even included threats against his life.

“I knew that there would be a storm – it was inevitable,” he told Polish news channel TVN24. “We’re not dealing with this tragic history, and that’s what the film is about.”

Pasikowski, the film‘s director, has remained largely silent since the film’s opening, declining to give interviews and relying on a statement provided at the premiere.

“[The story] is one of the most painful chapters in Poland’s history,” he told reporters. “We already have a huge number of movies on the horrors committed by the Germans and the Soviets, and I think it’s time to show the terrible things we did ourselves.” Read More:

Like Sabra and Shatilla:

(see link at end)…Vividly reimagined by the film, the Jedwabne massacre was carried out with German encouragement, but was planned and performed by Poles. Of the town‘s roughly 1,600 Catholics, an estimated 50 percent of the men participated in the killing — first by beating, stabbing and bludgeoning Jedwabne‘s 1,600 Jews, then by locking the survivors in a barn and burning them alive.

For decades, a plaque in the town claimed Germans had carried out the violence — a claim everyone who remained in Jedwabne knew to be false. But in 2001, Jan Gross, a Princeton historian with Polish-Jewish origins, published “Neighbors,” in which he presented evidence that the massacre had been planned and perpetrated by Poles rather than Nazis. Read More:

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