Saturday, July 25, 2015

Terror & lies: Israel unleashes brutal pogrom against Gaza

 This article originally appeared on the Kasama Project, 18 July 2014. Reposting here to preserve the links. It can also be read here.

“Free Free Palestine! Down Down Israel!”

by ISH
Wednesday's direct Israeli hit on four young children playing football on a Gaza beach tells a story.
It epitomizes the entire disgusting episode in occupied Palestine that has unfolded since the collapse of so-called peace talks earlier this year. Western journalists witnessed the precision targeting of the four children by the Israeli naval forces who blockade the Gaza coastline. Pictures of the tiny torn bodies being carried away from the scene filled the internet.

The US network NBC immediately pulled the reporter who had honestly reported on the targeting of the children. Predictably Israeli spokesmen offered a few brutally transparent crocodile tears for “unfortunate mistakes,” and yet the very next day the Israelis killed more children, and proceeded to bomb the Al-Waffa Orthopedic Hospital into oblivion. Shortly afterwards, a few hours ago as of this writing, Israeli tanks crossed into Gaza under the cover of darkness, marking a significant escalation of the Israeli extermination campaign against the Palestinian population.

Dawn is about to break on an unknown future for the almost 2 million people crowded into the small, impoverished, besieged enclave of Gaza. Over 250 Palestinians have already been killed, almost 2,000 wounded. 80% of the dead are non-combatants, and an obscene number are children. It is estimated that one Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every three days for the past 13 years, so the events of the current Israeli offensive are far from an anomaly.

What is happening in Gaza is not a conflict, it's a massacre. What is happening is not a war, but a pogrom, the herding together and culling of the captive Palestinian population.

Israel and its supporters have crafted a brutal narrative absolving themselves of all guilt for the mass murder they are committing. From the Israeli government, and the legions of Zionist agents spouting officially approved “hasbara,” or “explanations” in the media and on the internet, down through the echelons of politicians in countries far and wide — here in the US including conservative and liberal alike — we hear that Israel is just “defending itself” and “trying to prevent civilian casualties.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel knows what it is doing, fully consented to by President Obama and the US government. Wielding the spectre of “Islamic terror,” Israeli apologists blame the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas for their own actions in the most grotesque and self-serving ways. With the utterance of the word “Hamas” all morality and human empathy is to be cast aside, and all license for brutality and inhumanity assured. The Zionists blame Hamas for using the population of tiny, crowded Gaza as human shields, as though there was someplace in Gaza not to be a human shield, as though there was someplace else either Hamas or the population could go. But the truth must be told: as one person noted on twitter, “blaming Hamas for firing rockets at Israel is like blaming a woman for punching her rapist.”

The accomplices of Israel in the American media are unstinting. The day of the assassination of the four children, the so-called paper of record The New York Times ran a small sub-headline: “Boys Drawn to Gaza Beach and Into Center of Mideast Strife,” while running a feature photo and headline about “An Israeli Town's Emergency Routine” that lamented the effect of Gaza's rockets on the town's beach lifestyle and the sleep habits of local residents. Thus the dead children are blamed for their own deaths and the inconvenience of Israelis ranked worse than the murder of whole Palestinian families.

Meanwhile pictures are readily available of crowds of Israelis camped out on the heights outside Gaza having carnage-viewing parties, where cheers go up every time the light and noise of bombs striking their targets becomes clear.

It's not hard to find accounts of what life is really like for the population of gaza. “This night is one of those terrifying ones. dark, no electricity, smoky haze and constant bombing and shaking. windows are breaking!” tweeted one Gaza resident, Mohammed Omer. Many firsthand accounts are too heartbreaking to retell. The pharmacist just back from study in Cuba, his young wife now a widow. The child who finds out his whole family has just been killed. The eighteen members of a family slaughtered just to eliminate one Hamas government official, who in the end was the only one to survive.

The Israeli military gives Palestinians momentary warning of impending doom, the so-called knock on the roof warning shot.  The Israelis claim this absolves them of responsbility for what happens next. Palestinian poet Lena Khalaf Tuffaha exposes the horrible reality:
"They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think "Do I know any Davids in Gaza?"
They call us now to say
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
to nowhere.
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.
The politicians have all blamed Hamas for prolonging Gaza's agony by rejecting a ceasefire that Israel briefly accepted. Yet the ceasefire, hatched in Washington, suggested to Israel by the military-lead government in Egypt and not even discussed with the Hamas leadership (all in hiding for fear of assassination by Israel) was really more of a demand for surrender. The fact that Hamas countered with an eminently reasonable 10-year truce plan  was entirely ignored by the pro-Israel media.

A few months ago the politicians were trumpeting yet another round of “peace” talks, aimed at the final surrender of the Palestinian people to their Zionist occupiers. But it all went to shit when even the collaborationists in the ruling Palestinian Authority couldn't stomach Israeli intransigence and their continued ethnic cleansing of the West Bank. Talks were broken off, and the American negotiators led by the creepy secretary of state John Kerry packed up and went home. The Fatah-led branch of the Palestinian Authority running the West Bank announced a unity deal with the Hamas-led branch of the Palestinian Authority running Gaza. Despite widespread skepticism among Palestinians that unity would stick, all hell broke loose as the Israelis and Americans went into full panic mode.

Escalating land seizures, so-called “settlement” building and daily violence against the Palestinians was becoming routine for the Israeli apartheid state: but an alliance of Hamas and Fatah opened up the possibility that Israel would lose its PA partner in oppression, and Israel began to do everything in its power to sabotage the unity agreement.

In June, three teenaged Israeli settlers (one of whom was old enough to be in the Israeli military) went missing while hitchhiking in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli government accused Hamas of kidnapping the settlers, and launched a massive dragnet across the West Bank. Hundreds of Palestinians were kidnapped by the Israeli government, and several were killed. People had their homes ripped apart by Israeli soldiers. After a couple weeks the settlers were found dead, and it's clear they were killed more or less right away. It's been widely suggested that the Israeli government knew this, but used the interval to whip up a racist frenzy across Israeli society against Palestinians. As of this writing, no actual tie between the killings and Hamas has been established; indeed it's been suggested it was the work of supporters of the ISIS network ravaging Syria and Iraq.

Very little of the media narrative bothered to question why Israeli teenagers were wandering around with impunity in militarily occupied territory. The Hebron area of the occupied West Bank where these events unfolded is one of the most segregated of the occupied territories: Israeli military force barricades a small settler outpost protecting Israeli-only roads and Israeli-only neighborhoods from the local Palestinian population. The local settlers routinely brutalize Palestinian civilians. Frankly, the three Israeli settlers should be compared to teenaged Belgian colonists wandering around the Belgian Congo in 1914 or German teens wandering around occupied Ukraine in 1942.

The disappearance of the three settlers provided the Israeli government with an excuse to whip up a frenzy of vengeance. It was aimed at Hamas, but directed against all Palestinians. Mobs chanted “Death to the Arabs.” Israeli young people created facebook memes dehumanizing Arabs. Prime Minister Netanyahu himself raised the call for revenge. The Israeli government has created a vicious rationalization for its actions that is almost unbearably and tragically ironic given the facts on the ground: “A deep and wide moral abyss separates us from our enemies,” said Netanyanu. “They sanctify death while we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty while we sanctify compassion.” This should be called what it is, racist contempt for the Palestinians. It is the justification for the Israeli policy of collective punishment.

Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked posted this genocidal screed on facebook: “Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there...They have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists.”

In the aftermath of the settlers being found dead Israeli thugs beat up Palestinians; thugs in uniform rearrested many of the Palestinians freed from Israeli prisons under peace agreements. One young man was brutally burned alive. While eventually three Israelis were arrested for killing the young Palestinian, the Israeli disinformation machine initially tried a vile bit of pinkwashing, at first claiming that young Mohammad Abu Khdeir was killed by his own family for being gay. Khdeir's Palestinian-American cousin was subsequently beaten senseless by Israeli police. (As with the death of the young Turkish-American Furkan Dogan on the Mavi Marmara blockade runner ship at the hands of Israeli pirates a few years ago, all of a sudden the US government lost interest in the welfare of American citizens abroad).

What are the stakes as Israel attempts to pummel the Palestinians of Gaza into submission?
New York based Palestinian activist Amin Hussein says, “why is surrender at this juncture so dangerous? Because Israel intends either to beat Gaza and the resistance into submission so they can function like the PA but in Gaza, or pave the way for Israel’s entry into Gaza to destroy the resistance, kill as many people as possible, make the price in life so unbearable, that people would wish it would end. Egypt has provided cover for genocide. This is how genocides happen. You blame the victim for the necessity to kill them. This is a war on the Palestinian people in which Arab countries, including the counter-revolutionary neoliberal Palestinian Authority and the international community, are paving the way for death and destruction, way beyond what we have seen.” Hussein urges concrete solidarity against the horrors now unfolding: “Us, being in the streets, doing more, we bring the one-sided war home.”

There is so much more to discuss about Palestine. About the role of the various resistance factions, the contradictory but ultimately counterrevolutionary role of the Palestine Authority, about the prospects for a single democratic and socialist state where Muslims, Christians, Jews and atheists can live together. But for now the moral imperative is exposing the truth about the murderous pogrom that Israel has unleashed, and standing in solidarity with the residents of Gaza, indeed with all Palestinians.

Although most world governments have closed their eyes to the Israeli attack on Gaza, mass demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinians have taken place all over the world expressing the revulsion of common people against what the Israelis are doing. I urge you to find a solidarity action in your area, and take a stand with the right of the Palestinians to resist Israeli brutality. Don't let the Palestinians stand alone.

Despite advances on the front of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, the situation in Palestine is grim right now. One can only hope that the Israeli butchers have taken a step too far; and that the justified rage of people against their crimes of war will make itself known. The late Palestinian communist poet Tawfiq Ziad expressed it well:
“Gentlemen, you have transformed
our country into a graveyard
You have planted bullets in our heads,
and organized massacres
Gentlemen, nothing passes like that
without account
All that you have done
to our people is
registered in notebooks."

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