I am going to bed tonight in full certainty that as I sleep, Israel, a member state of the UN, abetted, armed, and egged on by the US and the other G-7 countries that rule the world, is committing genocide in Gaza.
Confining two and half million people to a tiny area (while cynically and cruelly advising them to "leave"), cutting off all food, water, and electricity, declaring that all Gazans are Hamas, thus making even children legitimate targets, carpet bombing for days to "soften" the terrain, and then, tonight as I sleep, invading with an army of 300,000 soldiers -- that is THE definition of genocide.
The world is run by war criminals, which imperils oppressed and poor people the world over. But tonight, we must think of the people of Gaza, thousands of whom will die in the next days, their lives destroyed, their cities, town and villages obliterated.
The dramatic break-out by Hamas fighters could have been a heroic and potentially decisive blow for Palestinian liberation. In fact, it did achieve at least two strategic goals. It restored Palestinian pride and agency by resisting oppression and proving that Israel was not invincible. And it demonstrated that the Palestinians can no longer be ignored and excluded as political actors. which the cynical, US-led attempt to "normalize" Israel in the Arab and Muslim world without addressing the Palestinian national rights tried to do.
Having said that, Hamas ultimately failed the Palestinian people when its well-planned operation descended into wanton carnage. That is what happens when resistance loses its political focus and simply lashes out. Given the conditions the Gazans have been subjected to, especially over the past 16 years of cruel besiegement, unchecked rage and violence can be understood but not excused.
Whether or not Hamas instructed its fighters to slaughter innocent people for its shock effect or simply failed to instil political discipline in its ranks, their horrendous acts, in my view, turned a breath-taking act of defiance into a stain on the Palestinian people and its fight for freedom. They must be condemned, first and foremost by the Palestinians themselves.
And yet, again, we must remember that Hamas and its excesses are the product of a century of systematic and brutal destruction of the Palestinian people by a Zionist project determined to displace the Palestinian people, take its lands, turn their country into an exclusively Jewish state and Palestine into Israel, and eliminate all traces of their collective existence, history, and culture.
This decades-old process of cultural genocide, accompanied by oppression, dispossession and killing, has led to tonight, when Zionism/Israel becomes overtly genocidal. The imprisonment and systematic killing of Palestinians has already spread to the West Bank, where soldiers and settlers alike have been given a green light to drive Palestinians off their land -- and kill them if they resist.
What Zionism/Israel has done to the Palestinian people stands as one of the great crimes of modern history. This, perpetuated by Jews and supported by Jewish "liberals" abroad beginning just three years after the Holocaust, mocks and makes hollow Jewish traditions of social justice.
In the end, Zionism has destroyed two peoples, the Palestinians and the Jews. But tonight, we must all vow to do whatever is necessary to save to Palestinian people and restore their national rights. Forging a shared and inclusive and egalitarian state and society sounds absurd tonight, even a cruel, inappropriate joke. But that is where, after all the blood that has been shed so superfluously, we must go.
Want to "take sides"? OK, here's the choice: Apartheid/genocide in an ethnically pure Jewish state built on the ruins of Palestine vs one democratic state of equal citizens accompanied by a l-o-n-g, painful but necessary process of restoring Palestinian rights, acknowledging the crimes and injustices committed by us Israeli Jews and reparations. More than the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of South Africa. More like the still-incomplete process of Germany addressing the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
11 October 2023