Gaza Q & A – me and ‘them’

Me: Really struggling with the pain of seeing dead, injured, distressed children in particular. It’s intolerable…

Them: ‘But doesn’t Israel have a right to self-defence?’

Yes, it does. And it defends its citizens well from rocket fire. But it recognises itself that it cannot effectively get rid of all sources of rocket attack without mass human destruction.

‘So, what would you do if you were Israel then, huh?’

Well, I wouldn’t have got to this stage by kicking people off their land, treating them like dirt, building a massive wall, effectively imprisoning them, subjecting them to daily humiliations just in the process of their daily lives, taking control of almost all vital resource supplies that people need, occupying ever more of their land, taking control of most water sources. And I wouldn’t have helped build up Hamas out of a desire to always destabilise and disunite Palestinian society.

‘But they broke the ceasefire!’

Which one? The latest one Hamas held to for a long time, I believe, trying also to stop other groups from firing into Israel, but they don’t have the ‘monopoly on violence’ that most normal, mature, functioning states have. The previous ‘conflict’ was started by an Israeli assassination. Ultimately, the ‘who cast the first stone’ question is a red herring. We’re talking about a ravaged and disparate small population in a poverty-ridden open prison on one hand and a modern, disciplined state and army in a wealthy nation on the other.

‘But Hamas is an organisation dedicated to the destruction, the eradication of Israel. How can we tolerate that?’

It’s true that Hamas’ original founding charter of 1988 says words to that effect and is violently anti-Jewish (I won’t say anti-Semitic cos Palestinians are Semitic people too). However, since then Hamas has gradually moved away from that position, particularly when it entered the formal political arena. There’s a well-established history of extremist groups moving toward more accommodating and moderated positions through political participation and dialogue. Those processes tend to isolate extremists and support those with more peaceful and achievable objectives. Also, I’m sure that Israel was still giving support to Hamas way after 1988 in the same way that Israel has also collaborated/cooperated/negotiated with Iranian governments.

‘Look what we did with our piece of desert. We turned it into lush orange groves, olive trees, and a modern economy, whilst they are mired in poverty and corruption’

Well, though the influx of highly educated and capital-rich European Jews helped, it was also largely through US aid and loans and a Cold-War era tolerance of state-directed capitalist development. Also, tell me how Palestinians are to develop their economy in such a situation. As for corruption, people in glass houses – indicted politicians, even presidents; the same political-corporate scandals we see everywhere in post-democratic, neo-liberal Europe and North America. Finally, it’s now a modern economy heavily dependent on violence – security and surveillance and military technology. Israelis lead the world in techniques of social repression and ‘smart’ murder. Is that the elitist vision of being a leading light to the ‘gentiles’ that Zionist Jews had in mind?

What we’re seeing might just be the latest dress rehearsal for the ultimate logical endpoint for Zionism, the ‘ultimate solution’ of the ‘Palestinian problem’ – history repeating itself here not as farce, but as unspeakable and hateful genocide. Thus, it is so heartening to see people all around the world in great numbers speaking out and standing up. They are not anti-Jew, anti-Israel. They are motivated by their profound sense of injustice and are demanding truth, justice, and peace for Palestine. They are demanding an end to imperialism in Palestine and everywhere beyond.

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