By Tammy Obeidallah
The latest round of atrocities unleashed upon Palestinians proves yet again that the Israeli government is a homicidal opportunist. Instantly, the problem of mass demonstrations deploring increased cost of living and other economic issues plaguing the Jewish State was solved by rallying Israelis behind the one issue they all seem to have in common: the singular desire to annihilate Palestinians.
If that assessment seems harsh, or unfair to Israeli peace activists, it certainly rings true of broader Israeli society. Joseph Dana, a Tel Aviv-based writer and journalist spoke with Aljazeera regarding the protests, which according to him, were mute regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine. “The sad reality is that if Israelis discuss Palestinian rights and specifically the rights of Palestinians under Israeli occupation, they very quickly lose public support,” he stated.
Of course the Israeli spin machine claims the bombardment of Gaza was in response to the Eilat operation, although there is no evidence that Hamas or the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) perpetrated the attack. Dana also wrote in a recent article, “Israel maintains that the PRC is responsible for the attacks but has yet to release any verifiable proof connecting the Gaza based group to the attack which has so far claimed eight lives.”
It is rather sinister that 81 members of our Congress just spent a week in the Jewish State, meeting with Israeli officials at taxpayers’ expense; days later, Gaza is attacked. It is quite probable that the strikes were carefully coordinated while conveniently, world focus is on Libya and Syria.
However, even if armed groups from within Gaza were responsible for the Eilat attacks, retaliation of this sort for a blockade that has led to the deaths of untold thousands is certainly understandable. The siege of Gaza, subsequent incursions and almost daily shootings of civilians for straying too close to the “buffer zone” are acts of war in themselves, thus warrant reaction.
Israel’s 63-year campaign of mass murder and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people is neatly packaged as “retaliation” or “self-defense” against “mortars fired by Palestinian militants” or the hackneyed “homemade rockets.” Mysteriously, the media never reports on these mortars or rockets until Israeli forces “retaliate” for them; then it serves as an excuse for continued genocide.
Genocide is defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 as “…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
If Israeli strikes are “retaliation,” we are left to wonder just what the Israeli military was “retaliating” for during the first four months of 2011, when 49 Palestinians in Gaza were murdered during Israeli raids, including a missile strike that killed three children in the same family, all under age 16. A fourth family member also died in that strike and 13 others, mostly children, were wounded. The blog Occupied Palestine published a list of 160 names representing all those murdered this year alone by the Israeli military, including those in Lebanon and those in Golan, shot for the heinous crime of attempting to go home on the anniversary of Al-Nakba, May 15. Sadly, in mainstream American media, these victims remain nameless, referred to as simply “militants” or “jihadists.”
Maybe it would not do any good to list their names and ages, anyway. After all, Mahmoud Abu Samra is just another Arabic name which the majority of news anchors could not pronounce correctly. At 13 years of age, his bright eyes and infectious smile were memorialized momentarily on a few social network pages, then joined the sea of images of dead Palestinian children: all victims of a 63-year genocide endorsed by most of the world’s nations.
Yet if his name wasn’t Mahmoud Abu Samra—if it was Tommy Smith or Billy Jones who was mutilated by an enemy missile, if he was one of our children—how many of us would be content to limit our resistance to whining for the United Nations to recognize a fragmented state cobbled together from 13 percent of our original land? Who among us wouldn’t at least consider taking matters into our own hands, thereby granting the enemy more excuses for “retaliation?”
While the Israelis have seemed to scale back their plans for an all-out assault on Gaza for the moment, perhaps waiting for a more politically opportune time, it is important to remember the word “retaliation” can only be applied to the reactions of Palestinians—whatever form they may take—to the death, destruction and humiliation visited upon them daily. If the word “retaliation” is used to describe military operations or draconian economic embargoes carried out by the Jewish State, it must be understood that this is a euphemism for genocide.
– Tammy Obeidallah contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.