Drugs, Hysteria and the National Security State
Sol Salbe just sent me this ad produced by Israel’s National Authority for War Against Drugs and Alcohol:
His wish: to destroy us from within. Hezbollah has a clear intent to flood Israel with drugs. Drugs are a strategic threat against Israeli society. He who uses drugs aids the next bombing.
It’s a pure fever dream of wild and outrageous stereotypes which reminds me in its sheer paranoia of that famous “Bolsheviks in the Bathroom” poster from the 1920s.
So what have we here? First, the notion that a drug user somehow abets terrorism, though by what mechanism is hard to parse. Just to play devil’s advocate here for a moment: how would Hezbollah succeed in smuggling drugs into Israel when the IDF patrols the Lebanese border to prevent precisely these types of incursions? Or are we saying that the effectiveness of the IDF’s border patrolling efforts is no better than its effectiveness at destroying Hezbollah in the last war?
Leaving aside the obvious questions, you have to ask one basic one: is this ad going to deter Israelis from taking drugs? Why would it? What is convincing about this ad in any way, shape or form that would compel a drug user’s interest? It reminds me of the old Just Say No ads championed by Nancy Reagan. And the Israeli ad will be as effective as the Bush administration’s abstinence program as a sexual deterrent (in fact studies prove that abstinence programs actually increase sexual activity since they are so devoid of connection with the thinking of actual teenagers).
The logic of the ad is a bit off. Hezbollah doesn’t engage in suicide attacks against Israelis. Somehow the drug authority has mixed up Hamas and Hezbollah (they both start with “H”, after all) and welded the image of the notorious Nasrallah to the sometime terror method of choice of Hamas without making a distinction between them. I guess they’d argue this is a drug prevention ad after all and not serious political discourse so what’s the harm? Israeli drug users probably aren’t spending much time parsing political subtleties like this anyway.
Finally, this ad is the perfect relfection of Israel as national security state. Every problem, whether related to security or not, is refracted through the lens of the national security obsession. Stop using drugs not for your health or because you’ll end up in the slammer, but because it causes suicide bombings. You can see how bizarre life becomes in the national security state. Or at least how bizarre it becomes for those who devise ads like this one.
18 thoughts on “Drugs, Hysteria and the National Security State – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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I think drugs are a murderous part of Israeli society. One of my brothers was working in the psychiatric ward at Sackler University, and he told me how heroin would be smuggled in by other interns.
I do not know if Hezbollah is involved in the drug trade. It would not surprise me, but then again, who cares who is selling it? All that matters is that the causes of it’s use must be addressed. There is a terrible emptiness and depression in Jewish youth of all groups, otherwise, why would they waste their time with this horror? We need to collectively do what we can to help the youth out of this mess. We could start by figuring out how to build bridges and tolerance among the adult population. But who knows how to do it?
There was a “drugs fund terrorism” anti-drug campaign in the US as well, after September 11.
I can tell you one thing. It is no fun being bombarded with rockets for several weeks. I wasn’t in the North during HIZBULLAH’s attacks but I do live in the what was Saddam’s prime target area during the 1991 Scud War so I know what those people in the North went through.
Richard, as you have pointed out, we Jews/Israelis are a hate-filled people filled with violent, poisonous rage against the Arabs, so I think you can understand that such an advertisement, as unpalatable as you might find it, would be effective on those who suffered under Nasrallah’s bombardment. That’s what those who made this poster want…to get through to those who are looking at it. Whatever works.
Actually, I encourage all of Tikun Olam’s Israeli readers to join the Green Leaf party. 😉
I’m sure there is truth to Hezzbollah’s involvement in the drug trade. But there is likely equal truth in the Northern-Alliance anti-Taliban Afgan warlords’ involvment as well. And let’s not forget the Contra’s in the 80’s with the CIA at best looking the other way (if not active involvement)…
As a follow-on to my previous post justifying the use of this Israeli anti-drug ad, Richard wrote in the thread about Erlanger:
I have no idea about the content of this play, but why would such a work be seen as an impermissible expression of anti-Jewish incitement? Are Gazans not allowed to dramatize their suffering as peoples of most other nations of the world do.
I would classify this ad the same way…..the Israeli anti-drug enforcement people are merely dramatizing the suffering Nasrallah and HIZBULLAH are causing Israeli youth, something, which I pointed out, was made concrete by the rocket attacks in the Lebanon II war.
But Israel actually does bomb Palestinian houses–the Gaza play is the dramatization of a known fact. The equivalent would be an Israeli theatrical performance showing the damage wrought by a Hezbollah rocket–not the making of an entirely different claim about Hezbollah as in the ad.
That’s my point. Just as the Palestinians are using dramatization of events to reinforce to their youth their awareness about the nature of the Israeli enemy, the Israel drug authority is doing the same about the HIZBULLAH enemy. Both are doing the same, and if it is legitimate for one as Richard points out, it should be legitimate for the other.
No, it won’t be effective for any drug user regardless of whether they suffered under bombardment or not. This is partly because it is based on a lie since it blames Hezbollah for suicide attacks for which it is not responsible. It is partly because drug users won’t care where their drugs come from except for Dan Sieradski and those who agree with his boycott idea.
Clearly, this ad is intended for the self-satisfied Israeli public and for the czars at the drug authority to make them feel they’re doing something, anything to stem the tide of drugs. When actually, it won’t stem the tide of anything except hot-air propaganda of which there is already more than sufficient amounts.
The ad doesn’t say anything about “suicide attacks”, so it is NOT based on a lie. It is obviously directed at people who are basically good Israelis and think, mistakenly, that taking drugs is merely a matter of personal choice. They are pointing out, correctly, that the enemies of Israel are involved in drug trafficking and that even “innocent” use of drugs is helping our enemies. I am not making any statement one way or the other as to the effectiveness of this campaign.
Hezbollah doesnt need to cross the border to supply drugs to Israel. Israelis can travel to Europe and then fly into Beirut. Ever heard of Elhanan Tannenbaum? Hugo Chavez is collaborating with FARC to bring in drugs to the US
Hizballah doesn’t use suicide bombers??
But they used one to blow up the US Marines barracks in 1983!
And they used them against the IDF:
Crikey, how did you miss that one!
The ad uses the word “piguah” which is generally used to refer to suicide attacks.
I, of course, didn’t say that. But why be bothered with being precise when a smear will do. I said Hezbollah hasn’t used suicide bombers “against Israelis.” And I should have added ‘Israeli civilians’ which is what I meant.
I once heard this, and thought this to be true, but then discovered that Iran’s presence in Bekaa valley was part of drug-smuggling prevention not facilitation, and the Shi’a hierarchs take a dim view of drug use. I was then told that it was not the Hizb’allah who were smugglers, but the Israelis themselves, most drugs arriving by boat or via Turkey and most definitely via Goa by other Israelis, and certainly not via Lebanon.
The worry for the establishment over drug-use by Israelis is that their fear of the other will decrease and they’ll see peace and coexistence and the other gamut of solutions that the Likud are opposed to (creation of Palestinian state, etc) as the only option. We have more Israelis in prison on minor drug charges (12,000) than Palestinians in for ‘anti-Israel actions’ (approx.9,000). If the establishment are so against the drug use, then why do we see so many Israeli youths introduced to drugs whilst in the IDF? They should address this before resorting to propaganda – it is Israeli soldiers themselves who are caught up in the smuggling of drugs and the sale of it to other IDF conscripts. It is a vicious cycle caused by militarisation of civilian population –
‘Welcome to the adult world where YOU, aged 18-21 are responsible for the security of your country’
‘Cushion your societal-trauma with these drugs’.
The mess is caused by the use of our youth, their militarisation at a time when other kids are studying at university and thinking about their futures. This is an enormous part of why they turn to drugs, and it is inside the military that they gain access to them in plenty.
Go look at the thousands of ex-conscripts in India – they pad themselves about with a cushion of drugs. It’s become a whole way of life. The Goa-Israel connection is the most likely route. The Israeli Drug Authority set up a rehab clinic in Goa just over a year ago.
I don’t believe this Hizb’allah-drugs connection propaganda anymore, although once I did. I don’t believe the Israeli conscript will believe it either.
Israeli kids should of course get off drugs – they will be more likely to act then, instead of just accepting the status quo. Being anethsitised make you more compliant and unable to shout out against injustice – you stay in and put the world to rights inside the safety and comfort of your own little drug-cocoon and make no action in the real world.
I am sure there is no truth in the Hizballah drug connection.
As for Siedraski’s boycott idea – it was always full of holes because it was based on a lie. Really Siedraski thinks he is radical, but he is at heart a conservative.
His boycott might have had some uptake if the focus had been firmly upon how drugs cushion the user and help them to continue on in untenable situation. So what if your commanding officer ask you to shoot anything that move, even a frightened child with a satchel. You can just cushion yourself up with drugs you bought from a fellow soldier to mask your own trauma response and quieten your conscience until the next outrageous command.
Why the adult demand these sacrifice of the children is beyond me. Enforced conscription of the youth is disgraceful aspect of Israel.
Anyway – everyone knows that following the American model on Drug Prohibition leads to increase in drug use and criminalisation and never to a decrease. The better option is to follow the Dutch/Swiss model. Drugs policies need to change and then we will see a reduction in drug use or it’s relinquishment to adolescent phase that will be grown out of. It is no use to anyone for the Drug Authorities to be using lies in their campaigns – it will work against their aim.
Great article here by Dan Goldenblatt: http://www.maps.org/news-letters/v15n2-html/policy.html
Of course, Shia religious leaders oppose drug use among Muslims. But since HIZBULLAH is officially committed to the eradication of Israel (Nasrallah repeated this publicly a couple of weeks ago), then why wouldn’t it be in their interest to get Israeli youth on drugs? Same with gambling, when Martin Shlaff, Yossi Ginnosar and their business partner Arafat (cushioned with generous payments to Sharon and his advisor Dubi Weisglass) opened a casino in Jericho, they banned Palestinians from entering the place, but they were glad to have Israelis come and lose money which then went to finance terrorist attacks against Israel. Anything’s fair in love and war.
I have a very serious problem with this comment. Listen carefully: provide evidence of this claim or you will be on warning. Look over the comment rules. If you want to make such claims provide evidence or don’t make them. If you make claim & have no evidence (Arutz Sheva & other right-wing agit prop sites don’t count as evidence) then consider yrself warned. If you have serious evidence I’d like to see it.