Gaza Is a Transhumanist Issue!

By Summerspeaker

Transhumanists as a rule may prefer to contemplate implants and genetic engineering, but few if any violations of morphological freedom exceed being torn to pieces by shrapnel or dashed against concrete by an overpressure wave. In this piece I argue that the settler-colonial violence in occupied Palestine relates to core aspects of modernity and demands futurist attention both emotionally and intellectually.

The latest intensification of conflict in Gaza – the Israeli Defense Force’s Operation Protective Edge – has already killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians, left thousands more injured, and displaced tens of thousands. British- and U.S.-made munitions have been raining down on homes, schools, and hospitals in Gaza. Viscous racism and misogyny fuel the fire, with prominent Israeli Martin Sherman even calling for the forced relocation or death of every Palestinian in Gaza.

Promoted as smart and precise, laser-guided explosives in this engagement yet again fail to deliver the dream of neat and tidy war where only combatants perish. Instead, here the high-tech surveillance and targeting systems lead to old-fashioned results: death, maiming, sorrow, and terror. The rhetoric of smart, high-tech weapons primarily serves to district from the visceral horror at hand. In the case of the Iron Dome defense system, technology may be fostering violence. Certainly war profiteers are doing their thing.

In addition to the military technology involved, Israel stands out as a center of technological innovation and darling of the technophile community. Hank Pellissier has promoted Israel as a transhumanist beacon on IEET previously. Tech business continues to boom in Israel despite the violence. This dynamic illustrates how the technological advancement central to transhumanism and technoprogressivism has an intimate connection with the current bloodshed in Gaza. Israeli scientists seek breakthroughs while Israeli bombs break Palestinian bones.

Israel’s “Iron Dome” Technology

In technoprogressive terms, the costs, risks, and benefits of innovations and the existing apparatus of technoscience aren’t justly distributed in Palestine. Anyone so much as sympathetic to technoprogressivism must regard the massacre in Gaza as shameful and tragic. Israel has long been chastised by the United Nations, albeit impotently, for violations of international law. The recent deadly mortar attack on U.N. School in Gaza constitutes a particularly egregious example of Israeli war crimes. Thousands upon thousands have taken to streets across the world to condemn the current violence, and various states – especially in Latin America – have officially rebuked the Israeli government. Global public opinion appears to be turning against Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank in unprecedented fashion.

I encourage all transhumanists, technoprogressives, futurists, and so on to seriously reflect on what the relationship between innovation and militarism means, both in Palestine and more broadly. I recommend against the temptation to dismiss the so-called Arab-Israeli conflict as some primitive or retrograde dynamic that will necessarily fade away amid ever-advancing technological progress. To the contrary, settler colonialism – the primary cause of violence in Palestine – constitutes one of the cornerstones of modernity and remains key in the present day. Western rationality and technoscience themselves come out of the modern crucible that includes colonialism and white supremacy.

Like the United States before it, the state of Israel emerged via settler colonialism and continuities rely on the elimination of Indigenous autonomy, community, and lives. Zionist settlers arrived in Palestine with a mission to dispossess the preexisting population and create a new Jewish-dominated polity. In both Israel and the United States, technoscience relies on stolen land soaked in the blood of earlier inhabitants.

What does the heartbreaking history and present of settler colonialism mean to the transhumanist and technoprogressive projects? Countless possible responses exist, including fervent denial and total despair. For myself I consider transhumanism unavoidably but not hopelessly enmeshed in colonialism. The transhumanism I practice and promote – anarchist transhumanism – takes opposition to all oppression as its centerpiece. I support local efforts to show how Israeli settler colonialism connects to settler colonialism here in New Mexico, end U.S. aid to Israel, and advance the BDS Movement.

As I’ve argued previously, within an empiricist epistemology there’s no doubt that industrial civilization rests on a foundation of vast human suffering. That’s the abyss that confronts anyone who contemplates the state the world and the prospects for improvement. Present atrocities in Gaza provide a window into the abyss. I urge all futurists and techno-visionaries to carefully confront it. I for one have no interest in reiterating the status quo by building the fabulous future on a heap of human skulls.

We can and must do so much better.

(Maps and images added to this article by Kris Notaro | More maps can found at The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions: ICAHD website)

The UN Partition Plan tried to divide the country according to demographic concentrations, but the Palestinian and Jewish populations were so intertwined that that became impossible. Although the Jews comprised only a third of the country’s population (548,000 out of 1,750,000) and owned only 6% of the land, they received 55% of the country (including both Tel Aviv/Jaffa and Haifa port cities, the Sea of Galilee and the resource-rich Negev). In the area allocated to the Jewish state, only about 57% of the population was actually Jewish (538,000 Jews, 397,000 Arabs). The Jewish community accepted the Partition Plan; the Palestinians (except those in the Communist Party) and the Arab countries rejected it.

In 1967 Israel annexed an area of 70 sq. kms., which it called “East” Jerusalem, to the 38 sq. kms. that had comprised Israeli “West” Jerusalem since 1948, even though the Palestinian side of the city under Jordan was just 6 sq. kms. It gerrymandered the municipal border according to two principles: incorporating as much unbuilt-upon Palestinian land as possible for future Israeli settlements (depicted in blue), while excluding as much of the Palestinian population as possible so as to maintain a 72% Jewish majority in the city. As the concentrations of Palestinian population show (in brown), the municipal border cut in half a living urban fabric of communities, families, businesses, schools, housing and roads. Its placement of settlements prevents the urban development of Palestinian Jerusalem – the economic and cultural as well as religious center of Palestinian life – transforming its residential and commercial areas into disconnected enclaves. There are today more Israelis living in “East” Jerusalem (more than 200,000) than Palestinians. Since Palestinians cannot live in “West” Jerusalem, Israeli restrictions on building (combined with an aggressive campaign of house demolitions) have confined that population to a mere 6% of the urban land – although they are a third of the Jerusalem population. Discriminatory administrative and housing measures have led to the “Quiet Transfer” of thousands of Palestinian families out of the city, and to the loss of their Jerusalem residency.

(Maps and images added to this article by Kris Notaro | More maps can found at The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions: ICAHD website)

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