How Vittorio Arrigoni Went to Gaza Hoping to Die
Bit by bit, decorate it, arrange the details, find the ingredients, imagine it, choose it, get advice on it, shape it into a work without spectators, one which exists only for oneself, just for the shortest little moment of life.
—Michel Foucault, describing the pleasure of preparing oneself for suicide.
The Italian cheerleader for Hamas, Vittorio Arrigoni, has died at the hands of the Islamic terrorism that he venerated throughout his life. The fellow traveler journeyed to the Gaza Strip to prostrate himself before his secular deity, Hamas, and to assist its venture of perpetrating genocide against Israelis. Islamic terrorists, who call themselves “Salafists,” showed their gratitude to Arrigoni by kidnapping, mercilessly beating, and executing him.
This episode was, of course, all part of an expected script: even though the media and our higher literary culture never discuss the reasons, the historical record reveals one undeniable fact: like thousands of political pilgrims before him, Vittorio Arrigoni went to Gaza to die. Indeed, consciously or unconsciously, in their unquenchable quest for sacrificing human life on the altar of their utopian ideals, fellow travelers always lust for death, and if not the death of others, then of their own.
It is no coincidence that a short while before “Salafists” killed Arrigoni, Juliano Mer-Khamis, a cheerleader of terrorism in Israel who, like Arrigoni, dedicated his life to praising the Palestinian death cult and working for the annihilation of Israel, was murdered by Islamic terrorists in Jenin. It is no coincidence that Rachel Corrie, the infamous enabler of the International Solidarity Movement, a group that disrupts anti-terrorism activities of the Israel Defense Forces, committed suicide in protecting Hamas terrorists by throwing herself in front of an Israeli bulldozer. And it is no coincidence that female leftist “peace” activists are routinely raped, brutalized, and enslaved by the Arabs of Judea and Samaria that they come to aid and glorify in their Jew-hating odyssey against Israel. And don’t hold your breath, by the way, waiting for leftist feminists to protest this phenomenon; they are faithfully following in the footsteps of American fellow traveler Anna Louise Strong and the Stalinist German writer Bertolt Brecht, two typical leftist believers who were completely undisturbed by the arrests and deaths of their friends in the Stalinist purges -- having never even inquired about them after their disappearance.
Beneath the leftist believer’s veneration of the despotic enemy lies one of his most powerful yearnings: to submit his whole being to a totalist entity. This psychological dynamic involves negative identification, whereby a person who has failed to identify positively with his own environment subjugates his individuality to a powerful, authoritarian entity, through which he vicariously experiences a feeling of power and purpose. The historian David Potter has succinctly crystallized this phenomenon:
. . . most of us, if not all of us, fulfill ourselves and realize our own identities as persons through our relations with others; we are, in a sense, what our community, or as some sociologists would say, more precisely, what our reference group, recognizes us as being. If it does not recognize us, or if we do not feel that it does, or if we are confused as to what the recognition is, then we become not only lonely, but even lost, and profoundly unsure of our identity. We are driven by this uncertainty into a somewhat obsessive effort to discover our identity and to make certain of it. If this quest proves too long or too difficult, the need for identity becomes psychically very burdensome and the individual may be driven to escape this need by renouncing his own identity and surrendering himself to some seemingly greater cause outside himself.
This surrender to the totality involves the believer’s craving not only to relinquish his individuality to a greater whole but also, ideally, to sacrifice his life for it. Lusting for his own self-extinction, the believer craves martyrdom for the idea. As Eric Hoffer points out in his classic The True Believer, the opportunity to die for the cause gives meaning to the believer’s desire to shed his inner self: “a substitute embraced in moderation cannot supplant and efface the self we want to forget. We cannot be sure that we have something worth living for unless we are ready to die for it.”