Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

The Attack on the People of Gaza


When the facts cannot be contained within the prevailing intellectual framework (the conventional wisdom), honesty requires that the framework be modified.

According to the conventional wisdom, the purpose of Israel’s assault on Gaza is self-defense, i.e., to stop rocket fire and to destroy “terror tunnels”. However, the facts include repeated attacks on hospitals, an open air market, UN schools designated as safe refuges, playgrounds, zoos, Gaza’s only power plant, etc.) by means of high-tech “smart weapons”, and these attacks are inconsistent with the notion of self-defense. These are calculated, deliberate attacks on civilians and the numbers speak for themselves: about 80% of Israel’s victims are non-combatants, including at least (for now) 318 kids.

To make these facts comprehensible, the framework must be modified.

Assume that Israel’s paramount goal is, as articulated recently by PM Netanyahu (see, to permanently prevent the emergence of a viable Palestinian state, so that Israel can annex the land without the non-Jewish people. That is after all the core of the Zionist project. Achievement of that goal entails is the total destruction of Gazan civil society, meaning the permanent destruction of Gaza (and ultimately of Palestine as such) as a political entity. Some people have used the word “politicide” to describe this goal. See this.

Preemption of the possibility of a Palestinian state entails politicide of the Palestinian people, and politicide entails massive attacks on civilian infrastructure and civilians themselves, as we see every day in Gaza. Deliberate attacks on civilians make sense within the intellectual framework of politicide.

The problem is that international norms considered to be binding on Western-style liberal democracies prohibit deliberate attacks on civilians, and Israel wants to be considered a Western-style liberal democracy (even if it isn’t). The problem then becomes: How to deliberately attack civilians when international norms prohibit this?

Answer: Change international norms.

My hypothesis is that the real purpose of Israel’s attack on the people of Gaza – apart from the immediate goal of destroying the political entity formed by the Fatah-Hamas unity government (see…west.html?_r=1) – is to change international norms by repeatedly and openly violating those norms on the assumption that over time norms will change so as to accommodate the violations. This is why Israel commits its atrocities in broad daylight, barely even bothering with excuses or justifications.

Evidence for my hypothesis is found in statements of former senior Israeli military lawyer Daniel Reisner a few years ago:

‘What we are seeing now is a revision of international law,’ Reisner says. ‘If you do something for long enough, the world will accept it. The whole of international law is now based on the notion that an act that is forbidden today becomes permissible if executed by enough countries. If the same process occurred in private law, the legal speed limit would be 115 kilometers an hour and we would pay income tax of 4 percent. So there is no connection between the question ‘Will it be sanctioned?’ and the act’s legality. After we bombed the reactor in Iraq, the Security Council condemned Israel and claimed the attack was a violation of international law. The atmosphere was that Israel had committed a crime. Today everyone says it was preventive self-defense. International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal moulds. Eight years later it is in the center of the bounds of legitimacy.”

If this hypothesis is correct, then message being sent by Israel is roughly this:

“Go ahead and stop us – if you can. Because if you can’t or won’t, we will change the world. In particular, we will repeal (de facto if not de jure) those international norms of behavior that were adopted in the wake of the Holocaust, thus dragging the world back into the dark ages.”

Stella Roberts lives in Dallas, Texas.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
Lara Gardner
Why I’m Not Voting
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017