The State of Israel is a rogue state – this is a truth that can no longer be denied, except by those who believe illegal occupation, illegal settlements, apartheid, the theft of resources, collective punishment, siege, and regular bouts of mass murder are the legitimate actions of a state that proclaims itself the only democracy in the Middle East.
The latest bout of mass murder committed by soldiers of the IDF, the ‘most moral army in the world’, took place on March 30 at the start of Passover, the most sacred festival in the Jewish calendar. It left 18 unarmed Palestinian civilians dead and, according to some reports, as many as 1700 wounded.
In response to the massacre, writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Gideon Levy made the salient point that it “shows once again that the killing of Palestinians is accepted in Israel more lightly than the killing of mosquitoes.”
The exceptionalism that has long been accorded Israel must now end else the word ‘humane’ should be stricken from the world’s vocabulary forevermore. Western governments — enablers of Israel’s oppression of a people whose only crime is that they dare exist on land coveted by the government of another people, a government wedded to the belief that the heinous crimes committed against their people in previous epochs, most notably and grievously the Holocaust, gives it a license to kill and expropriate with impunity — they also have Palestinian blood on their hands.
We are bound to ask, given the scale of this latest massacre — not to mention its sheer, unadulterated brazenness — if there is any end to the moral turpitude of this brutal apartheid state and its supporters in the West?
Consider for a moment the manner in which the BBC, that self-proclaimed pillar of objective and non-biased news coverage, described this cold-blooded massacre as ‘clashes’ between Israelis troops and Palestinian protestors in one news headline.
Such a wilful skewing of the truth when it comes to this issue is designed to foment the erroneous impression that what we are dealing with are two equal sides in an intractable conflict. The truth, the actual truth, could not be more emphatic. What we are dealing with are an oppressed people, the Palestinian people, suffering at the hands of a brutal oppressor, the State of Israel.
The words of Palestinian scholar and intellectual, Edward Said, voiced in a 1997 interview with the Jewish Quarterly in London, make grim reading: “What’s so extraordinary is that what the Israelis are now doing on the West Bank and Gaza is really repeating the experience of [South African] apartheid and what the United States did to the Native Americans. Put them in reservations or just exterminate them…then the problem will go away.”
The analogy between the fate of the Native Americans at the hands of white European settlers in the 18th and 19th century, and Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians since the state was established in 1948 is a cogent one. At its heart is a Darwinian worldview of might is right, involving the demonization and dehumanization of a colonized people in order to justify the expropriation of their land, resources, homes and, in the last analysis, killing them with impunity.
In defence of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians of Gaza, the spectre of Hamas is constantly raised, as if Hamas with their homemade rockets could ever pose a threat to the existence of the most advanced and powerful state in the region, one bristling with nuclear weapons. Hamas, in reality, are a product of the occupation, its ugly offspring after years spent denying the legitimacy of Fatah and the PLO, while led by Yasser Arafat.
No Israeli government, past or present, has ever had any serious intention of recognizing anything approaching a truly independent Palestinian state, which is why they have extended themselves in throwing obstacles in the path of Palestinian self-determination rather than working to turn what is now a forlorn hope into any kind of reality.
Someone who is in no doubt that Israel’s objective has always been to have “as much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians in it as possible,” but that “these goals have not been completed because of Palestinian steadfastness and struggle,” is Israeli academic and historian, Ilan Pappe; sentiments he expressed during a 2013 interview with Al Jazeera.
In the wake of the outrageous and wanton massacre of civilians in Gaza, one that bears comparison with Sharpeville in South Africa in 1960, and Bloody Sunday in Derry, 1972, obfuscation has run its course and there are no political smokescreens left to deploy in the defence of the indefensible when it comes to Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinian people.
The smearing of opponents of this brutality as anti-Semites, which currently in the UK has taken on the dimensions of a witchhunt against Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is no longer tenable either. It is not Israel’s Jewish character that attracts opposition to it, but its apartheid character. And just as South Africa did not have the right to exist as an apartheid state during the dark days of its racist history, neither does Israel have the right to exist as one now, today.
Finally, if I may, a word to those soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces who were responsible for shooting dead these unarmed Palestinian civilians, and who afterwards presumably returned home to their families and loved ones satisfied they had performed their duty.
I say to them that it is not vengeance the world seeks, but justice — and justice for the Palestinians can only begin when the injustice that has placed a wall around your own humanity ends. End the siege of Gaza, tear down the apartheid wall, remove the checkpoints, and free not only those you have imprisoned all these years but just as important, free yourself.
For no matter how many tanks, fighter jets, and missiles you may possess in your vast arsenal of weapons, the refusal of this tortured, wretched people to disappear into the night of history weakens you. It acts as an uncomfortable reminder that when you return to your family each night after doing your duty, you do so with your humanity diminished.
You are living on the wrong side of history — in a cold, lonely place called dishonour.