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OPINION: End the siege, end the occupation

by | Oct 19, 2023 | Opinions, Politics | 6 comments

The aftermath of the horrific Hamas attack on Israeli Kibbutz has unleashed a bloodthirsty and

brutal Zionist retribution upon the Palestinians. The real tragedy, however, is that this violence was, and still is, avoidable.

Any solution that does not call for the siege of Gaza to end, the end of the occupation, and full, unconditional support for Palestinian self-determination is not serious and would demand Palestinians simply lay down and die. 

To justify what is now, by any measured account, an unconscionable act of ethnic cleansing, Israel has labelled all Palestinians as Hamas and ordered 1.1 million people to flee northern Gaza. The Israeli bombing campaign, a form of collective punishment, is killing thousands in Gaza, vaporizing whole neighbourhoods, and targeting schools, hospitals, mosques, emergency and rescue workers, and fleeing civilians. The Israeli hostages taken by Hamas are also targeted, as Israeli bombing is indiscriminate. Israel has cut water and electricity to the area and Gazans will die in the dark.

Israel had dropped 6,000+ bombs in 6 days on approximately 365  square km in Gaza — these are old numbers now. For comparison, the anti-ISIS coalition dropped approx. 2,500 bombs per month across 46,000 square km in Iraq and Syria. The Gaza death toll is 4,200and counting, including 600 children, and more than 7,600 injured and one million displaced. 

The Hamas attack on Saturday left 700 Israelis dead, many injured, and they took dozens of hostages. Was that attack right? No, but it was predictable. It is easy to condemn Hamas violence and even easier when the entire context of the occupation is removed. 

Israel, its supporting western governments, and its faithful media paint the latest Hamas attack as the start of this war. This is not the start. Hamas did not start this. This is only the latest attack within a long history of the Israeli occupation of stolen land and the Palestinian resistance struggle for independence and self-determination. 

We must understand this war is not religious violence; it’s colonial. This is a war of occupation and land seizure. Israel is a political and military outpost for western European dominance in the Middle East, and Israeli apartheid is made possible with western support. Without the US, UK, and Canada, Israel could not commit the crimes it does—which includes, at one point, funding Hamas. 

We must also understand the predictability of Israel’s violence. Israel’s top politicians, particularly Prime Minister Netanyahu, describe Israel as a Jewish-only state. The only way to achieve an ethnostate is through massive violence. At least 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed to create the state of Israel in 1948, and ethnic cleansing is what we are witnessing now. Zionist militias killed about 15,000 Palestinians in mass atrocities and over 70 massacres. Zionist forces destroyed 530 villages and cities and took by bloody force 78 per cent of historic Palestine.

Palestinian violence is also predictable. As Chris Hedges observes, “The terror Israel inflicts is the terror it will get.” They suffer jailing, killings, and displacement. The Israeli occupation is the longest in history. Hebrew University sociologist Baruch Kimmerling described Gaza as “the world’s largest concentration camp ever.” Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz called it the “Gaza Ghetto,” and past British Prime Minister David Cameron called it an open-air prison. If Gaza is a prison, then what are Palestinians guilty of? What are their crimes? 

When Palestinians do practice non-violent resistance, Israel massacres them. During the 2018 Great March of Return, Palestinians peacefully protested. Israeli snipers shot men, women, children, and the disabled. 533 children under 18 were injured, and over 80% suffered gunshot wounds. Non-violent protest is only effective when witnessed, and Palestinians watched as the world looked away. 

Canada criminalizes the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, claiming it is antisemitic. BDS is banned in many US states, and academics are fired for advocating Palestinian self-determination. 

When Palestinian non-violence is criminalized, only violence is left. When they attack, Israel uses it to justify its revenge. Israel’s war machine relies on turning Jewish grief into war. It manufactures violence from tears and blood, and, as Gabriel Winant writes, it converts grief into power. 

Cowardly columnists who use holocaust victimhood against Israel’s critics and the phrase “Israel has a right to defend itself” are born of the Israel grief industry. These tactics transform Jewish suffering into a bludgeon to silence dissent, shield Zionist barbarism, and transmute the jailer into the victim. When the prisoner retaliates, Israel weaponizes dead Jews as its justification for the obliteration and massacres of Gaza.

Israel “mows the lawn,” and calls for a second Nakba. No condemnation. Genocidal calls from Nikki Haley tell Israel to “finish them.” No condemnation. Grief is turned into war, yet prime ministers and presidents never condemn the occupation. If Palestinians are interviewed at all, as a precondition to speak, journalists ask them if they condemn Hamas’ violence. 

What Hamas did accomplish was to remind the world that Palestinians still exist. Before Saturday, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were invisible. Today, Israel’s current siege on Gaza is a real-time ethnic cleansing. It is backed by our feckless leaders who must never lecture on democracy or justice again. Israeli, American, British, and Canadian governments demand Palestinians remain in a concentration camp, lay down, and die politely. 

If Palestinians cannot choose how they will live, then they will choose how they will die. Per international law: a people fighting for self-determination or under alien occupation have the right to use violence to defend themselves. Anything less than unconditional support for Palestinian freedom supports the unspeakable and barbaric conditions they suffer. Conditions made possible by our governments.

Faced with the brutality of Israel’s Zionist apartheid, Palestinian violence is inevitable. I will never condemn them for resisting.

End the siege. End the occupation.

David Slater

The Griff


  1. Joline Bakken

    I believe the real tragedy is that Hamas will not stop attacking Israel because their believe is that Jewish people should be removed and in the most violent, inhuman and disgusting way. Palestine was occupied by the Ottoman Empire and then Britain. When Israel became independent Britain washed their hands of Palestine leaving a dangerous neighbor who let terrorists live among them and turned a blind eye. Hamas and Palestines terror on Israel is fuelled and funded by Iran. Palestine has never been in a position where they are not supporting Hamas and doing Iran’s dirty work. If Palestine wanted to be independent Israel would have to be confident that they would not be attacked anytime they let their guard down. If Palestine could rid themselves of terrorist occupation and not be under the thumb of Iran then maybe the people could focus on betterment of society including health, education, productive men and woman. If Israel reacts peacefully from an attack they are putting all of their citizens in danger. Israel has warned that there attacks will be coming while young and old Jewish woman have been surprised raped and murdered and hostages were taken and hidden in Palestine. If Israel asked the palestines to give up all the terrorists and hostages taken they would not unless Hamas or Iran allowed. There is a saying that you can’t negotiate with terrorists. What is the negotiation – change there minds about wanting the complete distruction of Jewish people in order to get back real estate that they never had in the first place?

  2. Anonymous

    This article is hostile, subversive, and inaccurate.

    Calling the creation of Israel a result of “Holocaust victimhood” shows how shallow and biased the author’s view really is. Holocaust subversion or DARVO has been an increasingly used tactic to eliminate the Jewish perspective and fuel antisemitism. These are the arguments the author employs and they deserve to be called out as such.

    Condoning brutal acts of rape, torture, and murder against any group of people, regardless of the context under which it is perpetrated, and subverting the grief of the holocaust to make a point is shameful and unnecessary. The statement that “Faced with the brutality of Israel’s Zionist apartheid, Palestinian violence is inevitable. I will never condemn them for resisting” demonstrates a complete and utter disregard for human life. SHAME on the author for announcing such a morally repugnant stance on a public forum. May you never be treated the way that you speak of Israelis.

    We can all agree that violence was avoidable. If the Palestinian people had accepted a Jewish state as its neighbour in 1948, this could have been avoided, but they didn’t. They waged war and haven’t stopped since. How is it that Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon all coexist with Israel, but Palestinians have not found a way to do this? There have been more than 5 offers on the table to negotiate peace. They refused each one.

    This entire opinion piece was inappropriate and publishing it showed poor taste. We as a community and the author in particular need to learn how to talk about this conflict respectfully, acknowledging that there are people with valid points and complex histories on both sides.

  3. Laurie Adkin

    Thank you for your courageous column, Mr. Slater. Your criticism of our so-called political leaders is well-merited. The US and Canada have sent armaments to Israel, and have provided diplomatic cover for Israel in the UN. Hopefully the International Court of Justice will move quickly on the case that South Africa has brought against Israel’s leaders for ethnic cleansing and other war crimes. And then it will move on to consider the accomplices . . .

  4. Laurie Adkin

    By the way, I hope that the Griff does not take note of comments left by anonymous readers. Have the courage of your convictions, people.

    • Anonymous

      I hope the Griff and other readers considers comments on their merit, and I hope you (Laurie) recognize that not everybody feels safe providing their identity in such tumultuous times. It is entitled to think anyone owes you anything except an opinion.

      I am glad you do not feel at risk for harbouring the opinions that you do despite your religion, skin colour, or perspective (having tenure also helps, I’m sure). I encourage you to hold some empathy for others who do not feel the same, and consider why this might be.

  5. Anonymous

    David, thank you for your article. Here in Treaty 6 land we have a responsibility to denounce colonialism and ethnic cleansing. Pro-Zionist say that Israel is justified to kill over 22,000 Palestinians, injure +50,000, imprison many other thousands and displace nearly 2 million of them and starve them… because 1,000 Israelis were killed. Then what should Palestinians do if before Oct. 7, 2023, as you well point out, the Israelis have killed tens of thousands of Palestinians? – I believe we’re not pro-Hamas or anti-Jewish, we’re just upset of what our Canadian government is supporting. Thank you The Griff for allowing free speech.


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