The solution to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine is simple argues Charles B. Anthony
“Stop killing our kids, it’s not rocket science is it?”
- Brian Haw
So here we are again. Only worse. The gangster state protected by the international mafia has, once again with impunity, unleashed hell on the near-defenceless civilian population of Gaza, in an attack framed by Western leaders as one of self-defence. Israel’s security is always paramount – paramount to Western imperial interests – but the security of the Palestinians is never of any interest. Palestine, unlike Israel, has absolutely no right to exist – left in limbo, labelled mad, and then abused for sixty-odd years while the world looked the other away. Israel: the political Jimmy Savile of our times.
Is it any wonder then that the BBC, who did so much to provide cover for Savile, are once again smearing victims with brush-strokes of denial. Churning out narratives based on false equivalences or, worse, regurgitating Israeli propaganda. You do not frame rape in the language of the abuser.
Let’s be clear: Israel is doing what it wants to do and what it has always done – occupying, annexing and ethnically cleansing in pursuit of a Greater Israel. It takes a lot of imagination to believe that a near-defenceless population, imprisoned in the world’s biggest open prison, cut off from the outside world without army, navy or air-force, is forcing the fourth largest army in the world, a nuclear-armed Goliath backed by the world’s largest superpower, to defend itself. The occupier slaughtering the occupied can be called many things, but self-defence is not one of them.
Millions of dollars are cleverly invested in propaganda to pump out sewage to the meek worldwide media. Add the legacy of inherited racism left over from years of colonial conquest and you’re halfway to morphing a dead five-year-old child into a fully-grown Islamic Jihad version of Godzilla.
'Someone could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labelled a villain for trying to stop them.'
- V. E. Schwab
Since the year 2000 Israel has killed over 1,500 Palestinian children, approximately one child every three days for the last fourteen years. Since 2005 twenty-three out of every twenty-four deaths have been Palestinian.Add to that the outward symptoms of decade upon decade of occupation: illegal settlements, hundreds of UN resolutions broken, ceasefires perpetually ignored, daily military incursions, checkpoints, barbed wire, walls, watchtowers, land grabs, sterilisations, resource robbing. The list could go on, and has for sixty-six years. Historical and geopolitical context provides inconvenient answers, so the BBC leaves it out, to be dusted rather crudely under a Hamas carpet.
In the last ten days of fighting, the macabre tally of the dead currently stands at 625:27. Eighty per cent of all those killed by Israel are civilians, at least one hundred and fifty of those are children, a quarter of all killed.There is a word for these kinds of statistics and that word is terrorism.
Mark Regev, the chief spokesperson for the prime minister of Israel, can argue until he is blue in the face that Israel does not target civilians, but if Israel does kill civilians, majority civilians, thousands and thousands of civilians, men, women, children, for years and years, then Mark, I hate to break it to you, but you kill civilians, anything else is mere semantics. Israel’s use of ammunition prohibited in civilian areas, like flechette shellsand the chemical weapon white phosphorus, are one reason for the mounting number of civilian casualties. Targeting civilian homes, schools, disability centres, mosques and hospitals, are another.
Official statements are not objective truth – quite the contrary. Israel provides no credible evidence to back up their claim that Hamas are using human shields. In the spirit of Joseph Goebbels “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth. 1.8 million people squeezed into a tiny 140 square-mile strip. One big refugee-camp-cum-prison with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. If you rain down hell, people will die in the hundreds, don’t blame the victims.
The Palestinian factions have to date captured one prisoner of war. Israel holds over 5,000 locked and tortured in its dungeons, including 250 child prisoners. Testimony to the unequal worth of life, the Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian factions on 20 July is somehow supposed to be a game changer. But 5,000 already captive Palestinians are not? Five hundred and sixty-six people were captured two weeks ago and ten Palestinians were killed when Israel first broke the ceasefire in raids up and down the West Bank, before any rockets had even left Gaza. Where were all the rocket humanitarians then? More concerned with the defence of death than loss of life. Ceasefires are for Palestinians to uphold, not Israelis.
Some lives are worth more than others. Compare and contrast the personal and emotional tributes paid to each of the dead who lost their lives aboard the downed flight MH17 with the Palestinians pulled from the rubble with no epitaph. Compare and contrast the strong condemnation and talk of more sanctions on Russia with the cowardly encouragement and defence of Israel’s bloody actions. Our leaders have shown themselves not fit for purpose. They are history’s villains, descendants of those who called Nelson Mandela a terrorist. The defenders of death will continue. To openly admit the truth would be to acknowledge their role in the most heinous of crimes.
They should be warned though. They can only throw money at blood for so long until people around the world start to notice their hands stained red. Barbarism is difficult to conceal. Skulls and bones in great numbers pile up becoming mountains, for humanity to first acknowledge and then reflect on, in order to climb over. The cracks in the dam are showing; eventually the waters will break.
'The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.'
This is not a battle between equals. If you subscribe to such a narrative you admit to the denial of context, history, evidence and fact. Neutrality itself is a big problem. As Desmond Tutu said: “f you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” There is a reason why Desmond Tutu and the great Nelson Mandela called Israel an apartheid state. Why the acclaimed American writer Alice Walker, in her trip to Gaza, likened the racism she witnessed to the segregated American South of 50 years ago, but worse.
Self-determination is the corner stone to international law, making resistance to occupation a fundamental human right.You do not have to be a supporter of Hamas to acknowledge that over the last ten years they have tried, in vain, to use political avenues to resist and seek a just settlement. In 2006 they decisively won the Palestinian parliamentary elections, becoming the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people.
Democracy resulted in the Quartet suspending its foreign assistance program and Israel imposing economic sanctions. In 2007 they offered to share power with Fatah and formed a national unity government, but this was still not good enough. They have offered Israel a ten-year truce and have been consistently open to dialogue. In 2008 after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, Hamas prevented other factions from committing attacks and halted all rocket fire into Israel.
Israel broke the ceasefire. Then came the genocide. For all their diplomatic efforts, life was made intolerably worse. John F. Kennedy pointed out, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” There is only so long the moderates of Hamas, who have long battled internally against hardliners, could go on winning with nothing but worsening oppression to show for taking the political route. Hamas are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. But it cannot be said that they have not tried. Everything.
Thirty years ago there was no Hamas, before they were encouraged by Israel to divide and weaken the secular leftist PLO. As one former senior C.I.A. official put it, Israel's support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative." But even in those pre-Hamas days, there was never a shortage of excuses on why not to make peace.
The West, de facto responsible, has no right to tell an occupied nation not to resist, how to resist, let alone who should lead them in resisting. Think what you like about Hamas, they are certainly not my cup of tea, but they do hold large swathes of support on the ground. The Palestinians do not blame Hamas for Israeli slaughter. Why would they? For the last seven years under blockade, Gazans have been dying a slow death each and every day.
“You negotiate with your enemies not your friends.”
– Yitzhak Rabin
Hamas has gained support not just by its acts of resistance but also by its grassroots welfare programmes. Their support increased off the back of years of Fatah corruption. Like it or lump it, Hamas are a part of the Palestinian fabric. Any road to a lasting peace has no option but to run through them. They have as much, if not more legitimacy than Mahmoud Abbas. For all the bumbling stooge’s contortions, Abbas has gained little more than settlements and martyrs for his effort.
The defenders of death will note that Hamas does not recognise the state of Israel in word while simultaneously cheerleading Israel’s actions; deeds that make sure the rights of the Palestinian people to exist free in their own nation are never realised. Hypocrisy.
With rabid mutations like Isis forming next door, not talking with Hamas now could hold grave consequences for the future of both Palestinians and Israelis. Who do they think will take Hamas’s place?Ignoring a serious partner for peace could bring about its own future peril.
The present chapter of this conflict is not about the three young Israeli teens who horribly lost their lives after being kidnapped in the West Bank on 12 June. For there is neither proof nor credible claim, least of all admission, that Hamas was responsible. If you apply the twisted logic that that crime was justification for the subsequent invasion and slaughter in Gaza, then by that rationale, Israel should be invading itself, shelling the homes and neighbourhoods of the people who poured petrol into the mouth of young Mohammed Abu Khdeir, setting him ablaze to die a human fireball.
The offensive is part of an ongoing plan to quell resistance, quash the recent rebirth of Palestinian unity, secure Gazan gas supplies and continue building illegal settlements in the West Bank in pursuit of a Greater Israel. It should be apparent by now, after so many years, that Israel does not want peace. Peace is about concessions, contradictory to Israel’s thirst for expansion.
Kerry and Obama, in their quest for a legacy, have been trying to secure a lopsided two-state solution. This invasion is as much a message to them as it is to the Palestinians. Stay down, Palestinians, and stay away, peacekeepers. The official statements from the Americans might be supportive, but in the backroom, as John Kerry let slip, they don’t necessarily believe what they are actually saying. How long before Israel’s actions start to become a hindrance to even its best of friends?
Years of colonial indoctrination, belief in racial supremacy and unchecked violence have taken their toll on the collective moral conscience of a nation. Settlers attack, with impunity, Palestinian families on a daily basis. Israeli villagers take to the hilltops to eat popcorn and whoop at every bomb that drops on the civilian population of Gaza. Israeli youth take to social media posing for selfies calling for the death of all Arabs in fewer than 140 characters. Israeli MPs call for all Palestinian mothers to be killed and academics on live radio call for the rape of Palestinian women.
We can pretend that we are not slipping into a nightmare of nightmares. We can choose to believe that it’s all Hamas’s fault. Or we can wake up to the fact that the crimes that are being committed and excuses provided are not so dissimilar to those callously invoked by another great stain on the human conscience, Nazism.
The great hero of the oppressed, Marek Edelman, leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and critic of Israel, rightly proclaimed, “To be a Jew means always being with the oppressed and never the oppressors.” Marek’s nemesis, one of humanity’s worst ever oppressors, Adolf Hitler, exclaimed, “What good fortune for governments that the people do not think.”
I think we owe it to the oppressed to be less passive and more active in our understanding. You are not a bin; don’t be fed rubbish. In the face of overwhelming evidence: in the face of history, facts, statistics, bodies, limbs, guts and blood, lots of blood. For the love of humankind, let’s please do some serious thinking.
It’s not rocket science, is it?
Charles B. Anthony is a political and cultural commentator.