OpinionIsrael at War

The pro-Hamas fifth column intends to kill people

The reaction to a man’s self-immolation indicates that next time, the desire for death will not take the form of suicide but murder.

Photographic portrait of Sigmund Freud by Max Halberstadt, circa 1921. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Photographic portrait of Sigmund Freud by Max Halberstadt, circa 1921. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Benjamin Kerstein
Benjamin Kerstein is a writer and editor living in Tel Aviv. Read more of his work on Substack at No Delusions, No Despair. Purchase his books here.

Sigmund Freud always took a somewhat jaundiced view of the human psyche, but in the wake of the horrors of World War I, it turned even darker. Confronted with mankind’s capacity to destroy itself, Freud concluded that within every living thing, there is a drive towards senescence and homeostasis—a state in which things do not change. The ultimate form of such a state, of course, is death. Thus, Freud believed, all life contains within it the seed of its own destruction and dissolution—a death drive.

But Freud understood that this was not simply a desire for stasis. In 1932, he wrote to Albert Einstein, “According to our hypothesis human instincts are of only two kinds: those which seek to preserve and unite … and those which seek to destroy and kill and which we group together as the aggressive or destructive instinct.”

These instincts are not always opposed, however. Freud asserted that “an instinct of the one sort can scarcely ever operate in isolation; it is always accompanied—or, as we say, alloyed—with a certain quota from the other side, which modifies its aim or is, in some cases, what enables it to achieve that aim.”

In the unity of sex and death, Freud implied, there comes a point at which the death drive becomes a desire for the orgasmic destruction of oneself and others. Sex enables death and vice-versa.

All of this came to mind when I read that a man named Aaron Bushnell had committed suicide by setting himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington while shrieking, “Free Palestine.”

I was neither shocked nor surprised by the news. It was inevitable from the moment the pro-Hamas fifth column in the United States began its pro-terror campaign. The instant the genocidists took to the streets, it was obvious that behind all the screaming and slogans was nothing more than an inchoate murderous rage. This rage has reached such a peak of intensity that it has ceased to be mere antisemitism. It is nothing but itself. It is the death drive. These people want to die and they want others to die. Worse still, they take pleasure in that desire and its consummation.

In Hamas’s case, the death drive took the form of mass murder. In Bushnell’s case, it took the form of suicide. One could say that this is a point in Bushnell’s favor. At least he didn’t try to take anyone else down with him. But his self-immolation has prompted statements from his ideological kin that point to something far more sinister.

Reporter Andy Ngo recently tweeted about a post on the anarchist website “CrimethInc.” featuring an email Bushnell apparently sent to the site stating his intentions. CrimethInc. seems to be dedicated to promoting illegal activities to further the anarchist cause. As such, its comments on Bushnell’s missive are disturbing, to say the least.

At first glance, it appears that the site simply wants to dissuade others from immolating themselves, saying, “Let’s not glamorize the decision to end one’s life, nor celebrate anything with such permanent repercussions. Rather than exalting Aaron as a martyr and encouraging others to emulate him, we honor his memory, but we exhort you to take a different path.”

The site never explicitly states what that “different path” might be. However, it does say, quite falsely, “All available evidence indicates that the Israeli military will continue killing Palestinians by the thousand until they are forced to stop.”

Given the necessity of forcing Israel to “stop,” the site muses, “If protests are going to exert leverage towards stopping the genocide, it is up to people in the United States to figure out how to accomplish that. But what will it take? Thousands across the country have engaged in brave acts of protest without yet succeeding in putting a halt to Israel’s assault.”

“If your heart is broken by the horrors in Gaza and you are prepared to bear significant consequences to try to stop them, we urge you to do everything in your power to find comrades and make plans collectively,” the site exhorts. “Lay the foundations for a full life of resistance to colonialism and all forms of oppression. Prepare to take risks as your conscience demands, but don’t hurry towards self-destruction. We desperately need you alive, at our side, for all that is to come.”

“All that is to come,” once again, goes unnamed, but the site reemphasizes, “Let’s admit that the kind of protest activity that has taken place thus far in the United States has not served to compel the U.S. government to compel a halt to the genocide in Gaza. It is an open question of what could accomplish that. Aaron’s action challenges us to answer this question—and to answer it differently than he did.”

The site is careful about its rhetoric to the point of esoteric writing, but there is a small indication of what it means by “differently.” It states, “If nothing else, Aaron’s action shows that genocide cannot take place overseas without collateral damage on this side of the ocean.”

It is quite clear what “collateral damage” means in this context: dead people. Such dead people will be produced, the site forthrightly states, “differently.” That is, they will not be produced by suicide. People will be murdered.

I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the implications of this are fairly obvious: The pro-Hamas fifth column in the U.S. intends to kill people. Given the atrocities of the current moment, it is impossible to imagine that most if not all of those people will be Jews. It seems that however careful they may be about saying so, the death cultists in the U.S. intend to imitate their fellow death cultists in Gaza. The death drive will seek to sate itself on American Jews as it did on Israeli Jews. The pleasures inherent are too much for the cultists to resist.

Major Jewish organizations, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and all relevant agencies should take note: Bushnell’s death was not just a suicide, it was also an exhortation to murder—and people are listening.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war.

JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you.

The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support?

Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates