My understanding of “An eye for an eye” was to put a limit on retribution as a form of punishment. If one person pokes out the eye of another you are not justified in loping off your opponents head. If a person steals, you do not cut off their hand. However, this is guidance given at a time when the ability to massacre was more limited and and “justice” may have been a more simple and localized process.

What we face now has already gone far beyond that and what we must deal with is how do we contain this before even more slaughter and mayhem occur? The Middle East is a powder keg in the process of exploding worldwide and combined with The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the aspirations of Iran, China and North Korea can lead to widespread war.

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"Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal. There are those who do not realize that one day we all must die. But those who do realize this settle their quarrels." - Siddhartha Gautama, The Dhammapada.

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Nov 1Liked by Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Thank you Ruth for this broad discussion of the seemingly unbreakable vicious cycles of violence. As we emerged from the pandemic, many of my patients in their 20s were asking the same social anxiety question. Now all my patients are worrying this question. “Are human beings basically kind and benevolent, or cruel and truculent?” I think psychological research and insight shows we are composed of our influences, and under the right/wrong conditions, we have a wide capacity to go in either direction. We all, as humans, have to deal with the intrapsychic and interpersonal pressures of love and hate, fear and insecurity, etc. The fundamental human question is playing out in the hell-house mirror that is the Israel-Gaza border, with reflections around the world. Ultimately it’s not an eye for an eye, but cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. These are literally cousins. How do we deal with intrapsychic and interpersonal pressures, that can spill out into hate and violence? These are parties that have been gripped by all or nothing, win lose ideologies. This is something the human brain can do. It is build for survival, not happiness. Velcro for negative info and Teflon for the positive. It takes cultivation to allow nuance and complexity, and deeper humanity. We all have to deal with the narratives we have inherited from history, and the influences on us. We have to create a transitional space between and within us for transforming the historical transmissions of trauma into healing. But we must also name the forces of abusive power before we can vow not to transmit them.

MOSF 18.9: On Creating Transitional Spaces to Heal Intergenerational Trauma (EAAPAAO Part 5) https://eastwindezine.com/mosf-18-9-on-creating-transitional-spaces-for-intergenerational-trauma/

MOSF 18.11: Abusive Power and Megalomania Perpetuate Racial, Cultural, Transhistorical, & Intergenerational Trauma (Part 2) https://eastwindezine.com/mosf-18-11-abusive-power-and-megalomania-perpetuate-racial-cultural-transhistorical-intergenerational-trauma-part-2/

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Will the majority ever understand, work, and be content with PEACE.

It does require compromise.

It does root out the terrorists, their money making profit of selling ammunition, guns, tanks, bombs, ad infinitum.....

It does require a continuum of vigilance and stopping or isolating a disruptive head arising...is mankind capable?

Me thinks NOT.

So sad.

<<<<<<big sigh>>>>>>>>>

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Since the majority of Israelis want Netanyahu and his ultra-right wing government government gone when the Gaza war ends, do we safely assume that Netanyahu will prolong the war as long as possible or until Biden backs away because he finally wakes up to the damage his support for Bibi is doing to US status in the world as well as his own re-election prospects at home?

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Great insights as usual

These goons need each other to justify their power and cruelty. It is disgusting.

Those cheering slaughter of innocents on either side should perhaps take a step back and examine where they went wrong.

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Ruth, outstanding article. Someone with an alternative view of the carnage that is happening. Not wishing to digress to much, I am reading your book "Strongmen I encourage all of your subscribers to read this amazing book. I gives insights to the world and why we are here today. After a brief search on how many children have been killed by the US in wars since the WWII. Now I understand the US’s apathy about children being slaughtered in Gaza. If the media reported on the deaths of children in every war, perhaps wars could have been prevented. When you kill off children you kill off the future.

Afghanistan children killed 8,820.

Iraq war children killed 13,807.

Vietnam children killed 84,000.

Another reason why women should be running the world.

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Wow! Thank you Ruth for this most needed article. It’s so simple to understand that an eye for an eye only results in an endless cycle of violence , seemingly intelligent people still endorse this practice . We desperately need a non violent movement to push forward a 2 state solution, seems so obvious …..I pray for the those in Israel and Palestine who want peace .

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A preemptive reminder to keep our Lucid comments a space for civil discussion. Anyone who cannot do that, or bullies others for holding a different view than their own, will be banned from commenting. Thank you to everyone.

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And the question is: How to achieve the necessary peace? Who/where are the experts and scholars with insight into how to defuse even our own MAGA Christian Nationalist/authoritarian problem, where they are using the mechanisms of democracy to enact an autocracy?

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Cycles of violence bring to my mind the ancient Greek tragedy, The Oresteia. The transition from natural justice to civilized justice is mythologized in Aeschylus’s masterpiece. The mythical Furies, part of an older set of Gods, torment the victims/families and especially perpetrators of violent retribution. This leads to suffering and

insanity, perpetuating the violence cycle.

It is not until a new 3rd party intervenes that the cycle is broken. Rather than tormenting victims and perpetrators, the newer Olympian gods would insist on a trial by jury. This would satisfy all parties enough to end the violent cycle. Application of fair, civilized justice upheld by powerful parties (or institutions) is what can end these violent cycles

We humans, at least sometimes during the past several thousand years have been able to conjure some decent systems of justice fir domestic matters. But we cannot seem to work out institutional justice among nations. I believe it would require the nations upholding the world order, the US, China, Russia etc, to submit to rule of law among leadership. As great as it sounds, it doesn’t seem to be likely any time soon.

But in the meantime, I would appreciate if Biden switched gears from full throated support for Israel in the face of a terror attack, to a mediator role, back to pushing a 2 state solution.

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Has anyone done a study melding the Middle East wars and the low price of oil? It seems to be connected, but I'm not 100% certain. I believe the biggest threat to peace is when the price of oil is low and democracies around the world have the momentum vs the Authoritarian oil producing regimes. Is it safe to say, "Iran wants to sell its oil and gas, when it can not, it encourages attacks on Israel as leverage to reopen markets to sell more oil and at a higher price." The same could be said about Russia and Saudi Arabia? These hydrocarbon resource exporting countries are all funding or investing in the conservative political parties throughout the West. This almost destroyed Ukraine ( and still could), and has destroyed Yemen. The oil exporting oligarchies have aligned with Western Refineries and subsidiaries ( which equals high paying jobs in refinery states and districts). It used to be that only the oil industry funded the R's party. But now, direct investment ( 2 billion to Jared Kushner to "manage" and 1 billion to Steve Munchkin to "manage", and dark money pac....less to no transparency) entering Western political party coffers. And remember how Oleg Derikposka invested in a shuttered Aluminum smelter in Mitch's Kentucky a few years before Russian invaded Ukraine?

When a democrat or moderate R is in power, accepting and working on climate change and equality at home and abroad, that always seems to coincide with an uptick in violence in the Middle East, especially in Israel.

In this way, the Palestinian hard liners like Hamas and Hezbollah are manipulated into using violence in Israel, so that Iran can use their influence and power of resources to influence Palestinians ( weapons and Cash) as leverage to open more Western markets to buying their oil? Russia, a competitor can encourage more violence to keep Iran out of the market. This seems to me to be a logical threat to peace and to democracy. Oil is a very messy industry.

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Ruth, thank you! Brilliant and more importantly, an objective/fair analysis.

Let’s give peace a chance. Support the call (demand) for an immediate ceasefire.

SILENCE IS COMPLICITY. This is not a ‘war,’

an Orwellian euphemism; it’s serial massacres, carnage, state sponsored terrorism, out of proportion with the Hamas original despicable 10/7 attacks.

Casualties, (another euphemism: for deaths:)

Palestinians killed by Israel:

8500+, in Gaza, as of 10/31/23

Palestinians killed by Israel, in the West Bank:


Israelis killed by Hamas:


Hamas hostages:


WRITE to Pres. Biden, at WH.gov.

CALL/WRITE your congresspersons,



Support the call for a ceasefire and oppose any non humanitarian (military) aid.

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As it was with America and bin Laden after 9/11, so it needs to be for Israel after 10/7. The level of barbarism, given accurate reporting, leaves no question that the individuals responsible be brought to justice. But that justice must be delivered fairly, and Netanyahu is compromised. He needs to step down soon, or somehow transition to a new leader. Israelis, and the world, needs someone whose decisions are being made in the national, and not personal, interest.

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In the old days when countries were at war we had such thing as diplomacy.

When Al Qaida were slitting throats of Americans it produced that chilling fear in every one of us. However, there was no other country to talk to, only terrorists.

Same here, this is perfect if one wants the war to continue as Israel is not going to have diplomatic talks with a terrorist organization.

And why does everyone have an opinion?

It is very difficult to understand as the this conflict goes back before Jesus Christ.

Take something as silly as Meaghan and Harry.

Why do people take sides? Isn’t a marriage difficult enough these days on its own? Can’t we wish that young family the best?

But this is what they want; to create sides and therefore divisiveness.

We are falling into the war mongers hands by choosing sides.

Why is it politically incorrect to say firmly that Hamas is a terrorist organization and what they did was beyond evil and still want peace and the best for the Palestinians?

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Nov 1Liked by Ruth Ben-Ghiat

Whoh! Great analysis Professor! What a great summation of so many of the thoughts I've been having on all of this chaos =]

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