The ashes of Gaza fall on us all
"O country of mine you do not exist except as my deformed shadow, a word coined by my enemy." - Roque Dalton, "In A Fit Of Anger."
The dogs of war are being unleashed once again as Israel bombs Gaza and a endless conflict reaches a new, bloody phase. Peace talks have collapsed, tit for tat killings have initiated a cycle of revenge and the right-wing regime of Benjamin Netanyahu continues its march of folly as Palestine remains stateless, barefoot and burned.
How far will Netanyahu go? The Hamas party which rules the Gaza strip is now firing rockets into Israel which have reached as far as Tel Aviv. No one has been killed while Israeli airstrikes have already killed up to nearly 100 Palestinians including children, at least one family and even soccer fans who were gathering to watch the World Cup in a local cafe. Thousands of Israeli reserves are being called up and amassed by the Gazan border. Right-wing Israeli politicians like the crazed, nationalist fanatic Avigdor Lieberman are calling for Israel to invade and reconquer Gaza.
The Times Of Israel, Jerusalem Post and Haaretz, key Israeli papers, are confirming that Netanyahu is seriously considering a ground invasion. With Gaza essentially being a caged in guerrilla front, the results of urban conflict would be terrible.
If Netanyahu orders a full invasion of Gaza the results might be as horrific as the 2008 Operation Cast Lead where 1,166 Palestinians including women and children, were killed in a massive barrage during which Israel dropped white phosphorous over the strip. 13 Israelis were killed, 4 by friendly fire. But now the stakes are higher because during that assault which sparked global outrage, Israel was still ruled by a supposedly centre-left coalition. Today the regime of Netanyahu is packed with nationalist, right-wing visionaries determined to annex large portions of the West Bank and reduce Gaza to a simple, isolated ghetto from which the Palestinians might be compelled to just leave, die or disappear.
The people of Gaza have become a punching bag for the Israeli state. The recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank, and the revenge killing by Jewish settlers of a Palestinian teen opened a window for Netanyahu to begin pounding Gaza again. This might be the opportunity Tel Aviv has been waiting for to burn Gaza to the ground and eliminate Hamas and any form of armed resistance from the Palestinians.
The core issue remains the same: Palestinians are being denied a state by an expansionist, colonial power. According to international law they have the right to armed resistance, just as the Jews trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto had the right to resist by force. A people's civilization is on the line. Would we prefer violence? No. Violence only breeds more hatred, sadness and loss. But there are moments where violence becomes the horrific outgrowth of conditions imposed by the parties involved.
This isn't about agreeing with Hamas as an ideological party. Joseph Stalin was a brutal dictator, but who wouldn't acknowledge the right of the Soviet Union and the Red Army to resist the invasion by Nazi Germany? Who would deny the Soviet people's right to take up arms against the SS?
Consider the words of fascist Israeli politician Ayelet Shaked, a powerful member of the Jewish Home Party. She declared on June 30 that all the Palestinian people are the enemy, going so far as to post on her Facebook page that “They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads,” adding that “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.”
Already Israel has killed an entire family through an airstrike. Haaretz reports that the IDF's response is simply that "it was a mistake." And now that Israel has bombed most of what could be considered strategic, military targets, Israeli commentator Richard Silverstein reports in his journal Tikun Olam that Israel will now move on to hit "secondary targets," which means the homes of Hamas or other movement leaders. Their neighbors will of course be part of the carnage.
Yet the U.S. media remains woefully ignorant and blind. ABC News for example, made the idiotic gaffe on Wednesday of displaying footage of destroyed Gazans's homes and saying they were Israeli neighborhoods hit by Hamas rocket fire.
The situation is similar to a chapter in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's classic novel "One Hundred Years Of Solitude" where the army is brought in to massacre striking banana workers in the fictional town of Macondo. The day after the massacre the government decrees that there was no massacre, there were no workers, and nothing has ever happened in Macondo. In the same fashion, the Netanyahu government wants you and its supporters to believe that there is no occupation, there is no siege of Gaza, there are no Palestinians.
But the illusion is crumbling, consumed by the flames of this terrible drama. Israel's most respected novelist, David Grossman, stated at a peace conference hosted by the Israeli paper Haaretz that Israel would eventually face a moment of truth after nearly 50 years of occupying the Palestinian territories. Now that moment is racing towards fruition.
The Israeli masses who only seek what their Palestinian neighbors seek as well, security, jobs, health, decent lives, should rise up against their rulers who are only leading their nation towards desolation, if not immediately physical then socially. When national leaders speak like Shaked, in a language even our own Tea Party radicals would not use (yet), then the state of a nation is in dire crisis. The chalice of violent nationalism is a toxic poison.
Now, more than ever, with technology rendering the world smaller we must begin to develop internationalist mindsets. What is happening now in Gaza connects directly to our campus. Many of our students are from Israel and the Arab world, they have relatives on both sides of the conflict. A Corsair staff member is right now, at this moment, making her first trip to Israel.
The world must rise in a vast, echoing voice against the assault on Gaza. It is in the heat of moments such as this where the embrace of tribalism can be fast and instead of thinking, minds might be lured into cheering on the mighty, militarized state.
The Palestinian people will resist until they have a home, as the Jews fought hard for a homeland, as the South Africans fought hard to end apartheid, as the Algerians fought for independence.
Jews, Arabs, all nations must condemn the Israeli assault on Gaza. Because a people in desperation, whether in Palestine or Africa, Detroit or Brazil, is a scar on the heart of the world.