By Alex Whisson
Through its criminal actions of the past three weeks, Israel must surely have succeeded only in digging its own grave. And no decent-minded person will shed a tear at its funeral.
It’s truly astonishing the way it only takes a handful of five-second ‘soundbites’ to reduce a complex story of injustice to a monstrous lie, but that is precisely what the leaders of the Israeli state and apologists for its cause have been doing – very effectively one must say – for the last sixty years.
Empty platitudes and bald assertions by pro-Israel propagandists have dominated what passes for debate on the conflict for far too long. Some of the claims made by Tel Aviv and its virtual army of court scribes, often mistakenly referred to as journalists, are so utterly preposterous they wouldn’t look out of place in a Monty Python sketch if they weren’t so deadly serious. Take for instance the endlessly repeated mantra that Israel, a nuclear-armed state bristling with F-16’s, Merkava tanks and Apache helicopter gunships, must defend itself from the existential threat posed by home-made rockets that carry 4 kilograms of explosives and are in fact little more than glorified firecrackers. Claims such as these, the balsa wood struts that hold together the Potemkin village image Israel presents to the world, are now beginning to collapse before our eyes.
Thanks to the wanton cruelty and utter barbarity of Operation Cast Lead, Tel Aviv has done the supporters of justice and democracy worldwide an enormous favour. At the horrible cost of over 1000 lives and counting, including at least 400 children, the ugly reality of the Zionist project, so long concealed from the eyes of the non-Arab world, has been exposed for all who care to look. Even the International Committee of the Red Cross has condemned Israel’s brutality in a series of extraordinary and totally unprecedented statements. The President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann has described Israel’s assault on Gaza as “genocidal.”
When a state deploys the fourth most powerful army in the world against a civilian population and murders hundreds of children, in some cases via the criminal use of white phosphorous as an anti-personnel weapon, when the same state defies a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate halt to the slaughter – to go alongside its rejection of literally dozens of other UN resolutions throughout its blood-soaked sixty year history – then the obvious question hitherto unutterable in polite Western discourse raises its head; does Israel have a right to exist? The increasingly vociferous and unequivocal answer from tens of millions of people across the world is a decided: “No, of course it does not!” How could any state founded upon multiple wars of aggression and systematic ethnic cleansing, and which is defined in its Basic Laws as a racially exclusionary nation, be said to have a right to exist?
All of a sudden, people are realising the absurdity of the charge of anti-Semitism thrown at them if they so much as question Israel’s actions. Were people similarly accused of anti-Boer sentiment when they marched in their thousands against the apartheid regime in South Africa? Part of the problem of course lies in the identification of the state of Israel with the Jewish people. There are three points to raise in this context. First of all, those who remember their high school social science classes would remember a state is not a people; it is in fact a legal, military, economic and administrative unit that governs a particular area on behalf of its citizens (or at least ostensibly on behalf of its citizens). Secondly, who is that endlessly repeats the ridiculous assertion that Palestine was, is and will always be the God-given homeland of the Jewish people? The question of course answers itself: Israel and its apologists. Finally, millions of Jewish people throughout the world and in Israel itself, while in many cases not convinced the state of Israel needs to be dismantled in the same way apartheid South Africa was dismantled, nevertheless are increasingly raising their voices against the criminal actions being carried out in their name.
There are literally hundreds of incidents one could cite that demonstrate beyond even the merest shadow of a doubt the armed forces of Israel are wantonly targeting civilians in this war. Even the most cursory examination of the long list of schools, mosques, apartment blocks, markets, houses, ambulances and factories destroyed by Tel Aviv will persuade those still unsure of the reality which lies beneath the mountain of lies being told by Israel about the Gaza War. The whole story cannot be told in the confines of this article. Suffice it to say that, not satisfied with the outcome of their criminal and medieval blockade of the Gaza Strip, the Olmert regime set about initiating a well-planned military operation as a means of bringing to fruition Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai’s promise to unleash a “Shoah” on the Palestinians. Spot the irony here: supporters of the Palestinians are accused of insensitivity to the victims of the Judeocide when they make comparisons between Palestinian suffering and the Holocaust. Here we have a serving minister of the Israeli government determined to make such a comparison legitimate.
Who knows, given the extreme barbarism of the operation to date, and assuming Cast Lead fails in its objective of annihilating resistance to the Israeli annexation and occupation of Palestinian land, perhaps Olmert will next be inspired by the words of Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu and former deputy Prime Minister, who recently made a thinly-veiled reference to the idea of attacking Gaza with nuclear weapons when he said: “We must continue to fight Hams just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II.”
One of the concrete outcomes of this conflict must be the immediate launching of a thorough and systematic investigation of all of the incidents of mass murder that have taken place since December 27th 2008. Such an investigation must be conducted under the auspices of the International Criminal Court with a view to indicting and prosecuting Ehud Olmert and the whole of his cabinet for instigating a war of aggression, the supreme war crime under the principles of international humanitarian law established at the
Another outcome of this war must be the redoubling of our efforts to diplomatically isolate Israel from the rest of the world. That is why for instance the Palestine solidarity movement in Australia is calling for the expulsion of Tel Aviv’s diplomatic mission and the immediate severing of all political, cultural and economic ties with Israel.
There is also a renewed call throughout the world to emulate the example set by the London-based Palestine Solidarity Committee and begin a campaign of Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions. A good starting point would be the blacklisting of all those companies and institutions sponsoring the various Australia-Israel chambers of commerce that operate in each state and territory. People all around the world are working on similar initiatives in their own countries.
The movement in solidarity with Palestine is starting to have the flavour of the great anti-apartheid movement that swept up into its fold millions of people across the Western world. Eventually that movement was victorious. Let us hope and pray the friends of Palestine all around the world can begin the process of building a similar movement that will one day help create a just, democratic and fair solution for all of the people living in Palestine.
– Alex Whisson is a postgraduate student of History at the University of Western Australia, a producer and presenter of a community radio program and the convener of Friends of Palestine WA. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.