By Simon Turner – Jan 4, 2024
The year begins with a sliver of hope as the nation of a formerly systematically brutalized racial group recognizes commonality in its own experience and takes concrete steps, beyond words, toward rescuing another people … South Africa and Palestine. South Africa’s suit at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accuses Israel of committing genocide in Gaza.
None of this needed to have happened. The 23,210 and counting Palestinians killed; the 1,147 Israelis killed on October 7. The 8,000 unarmed Palestinians shot during the Great March of Return protests from 2018 to 2019. The Israeli bombing campaigns of 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2019, and 2022. The Protective Edge Operation against Gaza in 2014, at which time 1 Israeli child was killed—and there could be no greater tragedy—and 550 such Palestinian tragedies.
They are “such” Palestinian tragedies only, of course, if racism is set aside. If the numbers are switched to 550 Israeli children killed and one Palestinian child, how we feel at that prospect, the difference in how we feel, exposes our own worldview, the one holding us back.
On the face of it, such a disparity, where Palestinians are seen, consciously or unconsciously, as less than equal to Israelis, whether children or not, would be a strange take. It is the Palestinians, not the Israelis, who are viewed under international law as having recourse to defense by every means.
The Palestinians are hemmed in from all sides by the occupier, defined as such by Israel exercising effective control over the Palestinian Occupied Territories.
As Abby Martin documented in her lesson on Gaza, “Gaza Fights for Freedom,” for all who consider themselves able to learn, Israel’s land, sea and air blockade of Gaza, since 2007, limits the freedom of movement of people and goods down to the number of calories allowed in. But the border is porous to the over 750,000 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem of an ever-expanding occupation in around 250 “settlements” that house members of the current Israeli cabinet.
It was said this was “a land without a people,” said by the 19th century British colonial establishment, and said as much by the EU’s Ursula von der Leyen—Israel “made the desert bloom.” Now, as then, “essentially, yes, there are people there but no people that mattered or were worth considering.” An empty land, not an emptied land; houses bulldozed, communities systematically brutalized, and crops destroyed by violent settler fanatics.
The Palestinian-populated areas of the map of the Occupied Territories by October 7 looked dissolved, eaten away at the edges, frayed, and shredded.
Back in 2007, South African anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu observed, “What the Israelis are doing to themselves; they are not aware that when you carry out dehumanizing policies, whether you like it or not, those policies dehumanize the perpetrator.”
Currently, Israel has killed a greater proportion of civilians than the average proportion of civilian deaths in all world conflicts from the Second World War onward. Even Israel’s top newspaper, Haaretz, admitted to a 61% civilian toll of airstrike deaths in Gaza.
Per former UK ambassador Craig Murray: “In wars, the general percentage of children among those killed varies from 6 to 8 percent. In Ukraine, it is 6 percent. In Gaza, it is 42 percent. This is indiscriminate destruction of an ethnic group.”
Only 1.8% of Jewish Israelis believed “too much” firepower was being used in Gaza, though, according to a survey published in November by Tel Aviv University.
But what about us, us outside Israel?
We are few of us of the German establishment, with its morbid fear of being rebranded, still unable to move on from the past, society permeated with ex-Nazis for decades after, routed in East Germany, but then the East itself, routed. And Operation Paperclip’s relocation of top Nazis to work for the US establishment left no psychological scars.
Branded we can be though as this is the most powerful tool in the narrative armory: to doubt that 23,210 Palestinians killed is enough motivation to protest, so then the motivation must be antisemitism.
“When the holocaust returned in the 21st century, it came denouncing antisemitism and wearing a Star of David.” (Caitlin Johnstone)
What the Palestinians in Gaza are going through, and we don’t have to, I am sure means we can stand a little such astringency as a corrective. Especially, as the powers that be, those in the US House of Representatives, chose this moment to vote to equate anti-Zionism with antisemitism as if it is Jews, not Palestinians as a group, facing ethnic cleansing or extermination.
An organization like Jewish Voice for Peace is somehow necessary today not only for the invaluable work it does but to puncture the twisted narrative and turn the world the right side up.
Not Judaism, but Zionism and the Zionist project, is obviously (blindingly) the issue. Obfuscation aside, as Bertrand Russell, peace campaigner and philosopher who convened the International War Crimes Tribunal, said of Zionists back in 1970, “To invoke the horrors of the past to justify those of the present is gross hypocrisy.”
But greater “narrative control” was already needed with even mainstream human rights organization, Amnesty International, calling out Israel in 2022.
“The oppression which Palestinians have faced every day for decades; the discrimination, the dispossession, the repression of dissent, the killings and injuries,” reported Amnesty, are “all part of a system which is designed to privilege Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians. This is apartheid.”
In the wider world, the “1,400” Israelis killed on Oct 7, and the hostages taken, could only still preface a token mention of humanitarian help for Palestinians—in need to an unstated extent as a consequence of the actions of an unknown entity—if the death of a person of one racial group really is equivalent to 20 deaths of another, and not even. Or, if nothing is known of all the years up to this moment.
Well, in 2023 alone, before October 7, Israeli forces had already killed 234 Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank, as reported by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), with settlers responsible for another nine killings.
As to Palestinian action or reaction, on December 3, 1982, the UNGA resolution 37/43 reaffirmed “the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle”.
We’re now onto Operation Iron Swords, which started with the Plan Dalet depopulation of 400 villages and the creation of 750,000 refugees originally in the Nakba (“catastrophe”) of 1947-8. An apartheid settler-colonialist project of course has ethnic cleansing as its Modus Operandi (M.O.).
“Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves … politically, we are the aggressors, and they defend themselves,” said David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel. “The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view, we want to take away from them their country.”
In October, Israel ordered 1.1 million Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate.
Desmond Tutu laid out the options as they stood in 2002:
“Revert to the previous stalemate situation; exterminate all Palestinians; or – I hope – to strive for peace based on justice, based on withdrawal from all the occupied territories, and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state on those territories side by side with Israel, both with secure borders.”
It seems the Israeli government has made a choice. But as related on December 25, the options, according to Benjamin Netanyahu, are an even closer match for the state M.O. Israel’s signature dehumanized propaganda only emphasizes the horror.
Said Netanyahu to fellow Likud Knesset member and former ambassador, Danny Danon, amid the slaughter, “Regarding voluntary emigration [to Northern Sinai], I have no problem with that.”
US-born, raised, and educated, Netanyahu, runs a US outpost that famously receives $3.8 billion in aid annually, most of which goes back to the weapons manufacturers. That is, those billions in US taxpayer money in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and joint missile defense programs are given to Lockheed Martin, RTX (merger of Raytheon and United Technologies), and others, to produce weapons for Israel to use on Palestinians, as now.
War economy production that worked so well in WWII, pulling the US out of the Great Depression, requires an outlet, as in wars. Israel, for its part, “mows the lawn” (colloquial for keeping the Palestinian population down) amid systematic oppression topped by pretexts to attack that it has manufactured with provocation. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is of great value as a site at which to create great offense.
Regionally, with the Amnesty bête noire Shah of Iran long gone and Saudi Arabia wavering with China as a new mentor, Israel is a pillar in the US divide-and-conquer strategy, even now reinforcing disunity among the oil-producing nations. Iran’s “Little-“ to the US’s “Great Satan” can carry out assassinations of the resistance as in Syria and Lebanon ending last year and starting this. Syria’s Damascus Airport can be bombed on a regular basis.
Further afield, “Since 1948, just about every pro-U.S. repressive dictatorship in the world has received some kind of overt or covert Israeli aid.”
Did someone say this is supposed to be about Palestinians? Sorry, collateral damage.
As with South Africa, where apartheid could be overlooked in the case of a useful ally, a white bulwark against self-determination in the region, so with Israel. In the case of Israeli apartheid, and ethnic cleansing through its genocidal wars, the US public pays the bills of military assaults on the victim.
A lone hand is consequently raised once again at the UN to ensure the indiscriminate destruction continues. At least it is a hand more sympathetically belonging to a black official, recalling Colin Powell, an early identity asset, tasked as the most sympathetic in the administration, in performing at the United Nations for the US to get to destroy a country and steal its oil. We recall that Iraq was about oil, Libya had oil, and Syria didn’t want a pipeline. Gaza has natural gas off its coastline.
Appearances can be deceptive, certainly in the case of the US government. By 2008, Nelson Mandela and the ANC were still on the US’s “terror watch list,” branded as such not only until the last moment but well beyond Mandela and the ANC going from resistance to government in 1994, after apartheid was repealed in 1991.
Now, the World Court (ICJ) will get to hear South Africa’s case on behalf of the Palestinians against Israel. Biden’s administration would be next up under Article III, paragraph (e), of the Genocide Convention, for complicity in genocide.
The US has tangled with the ICJ before, such as in 1986 when a case was decided in favor of Nicaragua over the US supporting (training, arming, equipping, financing, and supplying) Contra rebels, and mining Nicaragua’s ports. A year later, the US ended its then 40-year commitment to the Court’s binding adjudication and has paid no reparations.
This time would be on a far bigger world stage.
How seriously the US government sees this threat may be reflected in the abrupt clarification of its role and admonishment of Israeli officials who carry out the wanton destruction that raised hands at the UN wave on.
State Department Spokesperson, Matthew Miller said, “We have been clear, consistent, and unequivocal that Gaza is Palestinian land and will remain Palestinian land” for a future minus Hamas, “in the interests of Israelis and Palestinians, the surrounding region, and the world.”
It’s all in good faith. The US has the welfare of Palestinians in mind, after all.
“The United States rejects recent statements from Israeli Ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir advocating for the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza. This rhetoric is inflammatory and irresponsible.”
And it may be used against us? -No more saying the quiet part out loud!
“We have been told repeatedly and consistently by the Government of Israel, including by the Prime Minister, that such statements do not reflect the policy of the Israeli government. They should stop immediately.”
This response is in a familiar style that “US-watchers” will recognize immediately as the entreaty to believe that nothing up to this point in history should be attended to or have any bearing.
Miller attempts to draw a line under what has gone before, extending his empty words to Israel. But it seems the pressure is finally beginning to tell.
Can we have another UN vote?
An earlier World Court judgment of genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina took just a few weeks to conclude. On that occasion, the US government gained the legal cover to institute a no-fly zone and attack Yugoslavia.
Today, for a case in which the US might see itself as a co-defendant, the progress is likely to be not nearly as smooth. Perhaps predictably, though enough to raise an eyebrow of even the most jaded, the president of the ICJ, Joan Donoghue, is formally of the US State Department.
Arguing for the defense for a second: Could a state built on ethnic cleansing “from the land to the sea,” grown on prerogative and apartheid, be any other way when coddled with billions of dollars in weapons and tens of thousands in authorized deaths?
Israel has agency, which it abuses in relation to its own nature. But the US “watchdog” was given a job, which it fulfills in the region (and worldwide) as a “strategic asset.” The US government holds the leash. The hope is for accountability.
- Orinoco Tribune 2https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/
- Orinoco Tribune 2https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/
- Orinoco Tribune 2https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/
- Orinoco Tribune 2https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/February 29, 2024