Bloodbath in Gaza

For days now, Israel has been launching aerial attacks on Gaza, resulting in many dead and many injured. The attacks are part of a larger and massively depressing spectacle of a usurping colony forcing a population into a wall-enclosed ghetto and bombing them in the name of Judaism and the Jews.

A New York Times article, published November 14th, reports on the death of Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, killed by one of Israel’s recent (“pinpoint,”* according to the article) airstrikes. Naturally, the article makes sly non-mention of the others—including the children—killed in the strikes. One phrase in the article reflects the Israeli government’s logic regarding the matter: “The ferocity of the airstrikes, in response to what Israel called repeated rocket attacks by Gaza-based Palestinian militants…”

The article goes on to bolster this logic when considering the always-tenuous ceasefire between Hamas, the governing body of Gaza, and Israel:

“Since [2008-2009] Hamas has mostly adhered to an informal, if shaky, cease-fire and at times tried to enforce the smaller militant groups to stick to it. But in recent months, under pressure from some of the Gaza population for not avenging deadly Israeli airstrikes, it has claimed responsibility for participating in the firing of rockets.”

So the question posed is, Who started it? When one reads the above words, one gets the sense that the “starting” of “it” amounts to a recent phenomenon, and that the question’s answer is to be found in recent events, circa last weekend. This logic upheld by the Israeli government and the U.S.’s “newspaper of record” is also upheld by—I apologize in advance for the astonishing lack of surprise here—the U.S. government.

At the end of his presidency, George W. Bush** justified Operation Cast Lead—Israel’s massacre of around 1,400 Palestinians—by saying Hamas started it by breaking a ceasefire with rocket fire.

First of all, that was never even true. Israel broke the ceasefire on November 4th, 2008, when it raided the Gaza Strip and killed six Hamas members. The raid was reported by the Guardian at the time. The event wasn’t really mentioned in the mainstream discussion of the U.S., which reveals something about the predominant U.S. attitude towards Israel and Gaza.

Supporters of Israel often brag about how Israel “withdrew” from Gaza, as if Gaza’s transition from formally occupied territory to open-air prison constituted a grand Israeli peace effort. But Israel breaches Gazan territory at will and becomes quite pestered when it’s met with resistance for doing so. This is perhaps unexceptional. Israel’s sponsor, the United States, similarly believes it owns everything and can do what it likes to whatever territories at any time. Just think of its vast drone network, always busy murdering civilians in places from Pakistan to Yemen.

Technically, Hamas and other Palestinian factions in Gaza offered Israel a truce as recently as November 12th. But let’s ask the question in a deeper sense: Who started it?

The question is easily answered, but it should be asked with more specificity: Who started the murderous settler-colonialism? (“Murderous settler-colonialism” is redundant, but I will nonetheless employ the phrase to make the point as clear as possible.)

Israel did, of course. The question of settler-colonialism is important. It clarifies. After all, settler-colonialism is a process. In Palestine, it’s always underway. More important to note is that it’s always violent.

Built into the settler-colonialist project is a plan to separate the people of the subject population from each other, severing individuals from their communities. In order for this to occur, the subject population’s present must become its past and that past must then be erased. This happens both through appropriation and through sheer destruction.

Sheer destruction is another art Israel has learned exceptionally well from its sponsor, the United States. One task undertaken by settler-colonialists in the U.S. was the mass extermination of North American bison (which, unbeknownst to far too many, still goes on today), dramatically changing the land that Native Americans knew so intimately. Similarly, Israel has for years been undertaking the mass extermination of olive trees, dramatically changing the land that Palestinians knew so intimately.

Indeed, the U.S. and Israel share values. Moreover, they share tactics. Their special relationship is drenched in a common genre of imagery: the imagery of death, as evidenced by the countless corpses of buffalo and olive trees, to say nothing of the countless corpses of people.

The blockade of Gaza is one form the violence of Israel’s settler-colonialism has taken. It’s not commonly regarded as violence in the U.S. After all, supporters of the U.S.’s sanctions on Iran so often consider them alternatives to violence.

Actually, sanctions are horrifyingly violent. The 500, 000 Iraqi children murdered by Bill Clinton’s sanctions in the 1990s are testament to the fact that those seeking to “cripple” economies are seeking to starve children.

The reality is the same in Gaza. One report by the United Nations has declared that it will become “unlivable” by 2020 if present conditions continue. Under these conditions, perpetual and vicious, rockets—made with the few materials to which access is possible—are resistance symbols, declarations of struggle, promises that Israel’s violence will not be accepted by Gaza, despite the military power of the forces arranged against it.

In summation, those who observe the violence in Palestine and feel compelled to scream to Palestinians about the necessity of recognizing Israel’s right to exist either cannot or will not recognize murderous settler-colonialism.

How about that question: Does Israel have a right to exist?

It is not typically good form to answer a question with a question, but because this particular question is a trick, I feel comfortable doing so. So: Can “Israel” be separated from the murderous settler-colonialism in which it has been engaged since its foundation?

Let’s suppose the answer is no. By that I mean that the Palestinian right of return continues to be denied and Israel’s racist system built on paranoia over demographics continues its violence. In that case, the answer to the question of whether Israel has a right to exist is as easy as the answer to the question of whether murderous settler-colonialism has a right to exist.

That is answer is no.


Not a chance.

*Read “Gaza truce broken as Israeli raid kills six Hamas gunmen,” published in the Guardian and written by Rory McCarthy, in which an Israeli official is quoted bragging about a “pinpoint” operation. Fares Akram and Isabel Kershner casually use exactly that word to describe Israel’s actions in the recent article “Israelis Launch Major Assault on Gaza, Killing Hamas Leader” in the New York Times.

**Bush was obviously awful, but what about Obama? Well, pro-Obama efforts only harm Gaza. He is the head of an imperial state. It’s his job not to give a shit about Palestinians.

Patrick Higgins is a writer living in Detroit. He can be E-mailed at higginspat@hotmail.com and followed on Twitter @DonnyDiggins. 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Can We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring