Gaza's blood washes away civilization
"Violated, dishonored, wading in blood, dripping filth--there stands bourgeois society. This is it [in reality]. Not all spic and span and moral, with pretense to culture, philosophy, ethics, order, peace, and the rule of law--but the ravening beast, the witches' sabbath of anarchy, a plague to culture and humanity. Thus it reveals itself in its true, its naked form." - Rosa Luxemburg on the end of World War I.
As Israeli troops withdraw from Gaza's scorching border and the maniacal government of Benjamin Netanyahu and a messianic, right-wing clique, appear to insist on airstrikes against the besieged strip, there is a massive pile of ruins that is left behind. The demolished, burned and tortured pieces of Gaza are not the only debris on the pile, right on top are the broken pieces of what we dare call "civilization."
For nearly a month I have followed the carnage, the maddened policies of Israel's regime, which has waged a racist war as part of a broad campaign to smash and bend a people who seek a home, a state to call their own. Much of the world has watched in horror as Israel has killed hundreds of children and other civilians, flattened neighborhoods and bombed hospitals, schools and even Gaza's university.
It has taken another act of murderous, human madness to again display who are civilized and who are not. Thousands around the world have taken to the streets from Paris to Chile. Here in the United States 50,000 marched on Saturday in Washington, D.C. and here in Los Angeles over 2,000 marched just on Wilshire Blvd. alone. The crowd on Wilshire included Jews, Christians, socialists, blacks, whites, Hispanics and Asians. They were civilized people taking a civilized action against barbarism. Meanwhile, the world's politicians have proven to lack any common notion of civilization, with the exception of Latin America where El Salvador, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru and others recalled their ambassadors to Israel in protest.
The cynicism of the Obama White House, for example, has been utterly shocking. When there were reports over the weekend that an Israeli soldier had been "kidnapped" by Hamas fighters (in times of war you would imagine that the detainment of a fellow, armed combatant would be termed a "capture"), the White House responded by calling the action "barbaric," never once did it utter this term for Israel's leveling of UN schools full of civilians, or the murder of 300 children through bombing raids. The flames devouring Gaza should also burn down any last traces of the "Yes We Can" mirage from 2008, although for this writer the illusion was broken long ago during the U.S.-backed military coup in Honduras in June 2009.
Voices in support of Israel's blatant war crimes on the media and online have repeated the same, recycled garble that Hamas has been using "human shields" to create major civilian casualties. But Amnesty International reports there is no evidence of this. The reality is Israel is waging war on an entrenched, rag-tag guerrilla force in a dense territory.
The utter loss of civilization and its replacement with primeval war howls is evident elsewhere. The Times Of Israel recently removed a ludicrous blog after it sparked major online bashing. The article, "Does This War Make Me Look Fat?" by Rachel Weinstein, was a lament by the author over how the stress of distant Hamas projectiles aimed at Israel made her eat junk food again, essentially boosting her weight. The Israeli Foreign Ministry posted on its official Twitter account that "The Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it's Hamas's turn." This essentially reveals how for some in the Israeli regime, this is a religious war as well. Terrifying.
Fascist voices are emerging even more constantly in Israeli publications. Ynet News published an article by "academic" Giora Eiland where she states "in Gaza there is no such thing as 'innocent civilians.'" Meanwhile fascist gangs have taken to marching in the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, shouting "Death to the Arabs" and threatening leftists. These are the grassroots thugs who support the political parties of right-wing nationalists in power such as Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett. The cheerleaders of war want us to believe, as they did in the 1930s, that fascism is the vanguard of Western civilization.
The latest, brutal invasion of Gaza is just part of a wider front that includes the ongoing occupation and colonization of the West Bank. As Israeli scholars such as Illan Pappe, Shlomo Sand and Uri Avnery have documented, Israel's objective is to eventually push out or die out the Palestinians, this with the objective of securing an ethnocentric, militarized state where one group is dominant over the others culturally, politically, socially and, they hope, demographically.
For now calm has been partially restored to shattered Gaza as a 72-hour ceasefire takes hold. As dazed civilians try to bury their dead and see what's left of their homes, horror stories are emerging of massacres carried out by Israeli troops. Jesse Ronsfeld, reporting from Khuzaa in Gaza writes in The Daily Beast that "HRW (Human Rights Watch) has gathered evidence that between July 23 and 25 Israeli soldiers directly and intentionally fired on civilians who were unable to flee the fighting in the town, and it has begun investigating the summary execution of at least six people whose bodies were piled in the bathroom of one house."
Spain has decided to block new arms sales to Israel and England is reviewing its own shipments. Why? Because this latest round of violence exposed a state that is spiraling dangerously out of control in its use of violence. U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg Tweeted today that "The Israeli military operation has overstepped the mark in #Gaza and I believe arms export licenses should be suspended."
And yet I continue receiving e-mails from students, general readers and even friends justifying the carnage (even France's Foreign Minister said this week that Israeli self-defense is no excuse for, in his words, "carnage"). They use general, cold and heartless vomit in the form of "hey, civilians always die in war," "you're being anti-Semitic" (forgetting that Palestinians are a semitic people). What is wrong with people? It is truly frightening how these dark times strip the mask of our supposed civility. Obama stands before much of the world now as a naked emperor, bathed red in blood, Israel is exposed again as a ferocious colonial power and a portion of us, the citizens, is exposed as a gothic chorus of death.