OPINION: End the siege, end the occupation

by | Oct 19, 2023 | Opinions, Politics

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


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