Friday, 25 July 2014

In Denial

The violence in Gaza grinds on.   John Kerry tries to negotiate a ceasefire agreement, but it's rejected today by Israel's 'security cabinet'.  Protests erupt in the West Bank, and Palestinian marchers are shot dead by the IDF at the Qalandia checkpoint, near Ramallah.   Protests take place all over the world: for the third successive weekend, marchers will take to the streets of Dublin tomorrow, walking from O'Connell Street (and the site of Ireland's most famous insurrection against colonial rule, the Rising of Easter 1916) to the Israeli Embassy in Ballsbridge.  The death toll this evening stands at around 850 Palestinians and 30 Israelis.   Over 100,000 Palestinians have been displaced by the bombardment of the Strip.  And the world watches and makes feeble noises: Ban Ki Moon pathetically tells the 'two sides' to 'stop fighting', and the Western members of the UN Human Rights Council either vote against (the US) or abstain (Ireland, among other EU states) from supporting a resolution setting up a commission of inquiry into possible Israeli war crimes in Gaza.  In the ludicrous and morally bankrupt public political discourse on Gaza, the Atlantic powers must always recognise that there are 'two sides', as if the struggle were one between equals - as if the Palestinians of Gaza were citizens of a sovereign state with an army, a full apparatus of government, and international recognition; as if the Palestinians too possessed the F-16s, and the Merkavas, and the M109 howitzers just as the Israelis do and were not merely firing home made unguided rockets with warheads made from sugar and fertilizer in a desperate and largely ineffective show of resistance.

This spurious rhetoric of 'two sides' has various ramifications and outriders - the felt need for the liberal press, such as the Irish Times and RTE in Ireland, to offer 'balance' in discussions on the issue; the allegedly tremendous importance of accusing Hamas as well as the IDF of war crimes - as if their respective capacities for violence were commensurate; the apparent need for the United States and the EU to position themselves as if neutral between two prizefighters.  But, as Fanon pointed out 60 years ago, neutrality in a struggle of this kind is a neutrality in hock to colonial domination: 'for the native, objectivity is always directed against him'.  The balance of power between Gaza and Israel is so dramatically skewed that neutrality itself is a kind of disgrace, a moral blindness.

Blindness is all too common in this situation.  The European powers are blinded by Holocaust guilt from recognising the simple reality here - a regional nuclear-equipped superpower, armed with the most formidable modern weapons provided for it by one of the largest arms industries in the world, and deployed by one of the largest armies in the world, is stamping (as it has been doing for the last 66 years) on a population of impoverished stateless refugees, largely unarmed and nearly half of them under 15 years of age, herded into a tiny ghetto, in the sight of the whole global community, and is getting away with it, again.  This regional hegemon, which narcissistically hugs to itself and manipulates in the most cynical manner the darkest shame of European history, is afflicted by a blind denial of its involvement in its own crimes.

So, as Yonatan Mendel points out in his LRB blog piece, Israel believes it has been 'forced' to undertake the slaughter it is carrying out in Gaza.  Even - perhaps most of all - Israeli 'liberals' believe this, as we are reminded by Donald Clarke's hero-worshipping interview with Ari Folman, director of Waltz with Bashir, in today's Irish Times.  This film, lauded at festivals all over the world, concludes with its narrator being told that his psychological suffering since his service in Lebanon in 1982 is due to his having been 'cast in the role of the Nazis against' his will i.e. that it was the shadow of the Holocaust that really 'caused' the IDF to watch over and facilitate the Sabra and Chattila massacres.  Back in the 1960s, Golda Meir announced that all the wars that Israel was involved in actually had nothing to do with it, and so now we see Netanyahu, and his creepy spokesman Mark Regev, and other quasi-fascists in the Israeli government such as Bennett and Lieberman, declaring that the deaths are all due to the actions of Hamas.  It's a wonderful ideological manoeuvre - you beat the living shit out of your enemy, and proclaim to all those watching that he did it to himself.  It's not going to stop for a while, either.

Here is Yonatan Mendel's blogpiece:

Yonatan Mendel
Forced to ... 


And here is an excellent Mondoweiss piece by Sami Kishawi on the IDF's military techniques in Gaza:


 Controversial, illegal, and documented: Israeli military strategies in Gaza




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