Western liberals came out in their droves to condemn the slaying of Cecil the Lion in Africa. How many will now come out to condemn the savage slaughter of a Palestinian infant, Ali Saad Dawabsha, by Jewish terrorists in the West Bank village of Duma?
I think we already know the answer to this question. For such people the blood of an African lion is more valuable than the blood of a 18 month-old Palestinian child. We know this to be true because for decades Palestinian children, along with their parents and families, have been routinely slaughtered and/or terrorized by Israelis, whether through individual acts of terror committed by illegal settlers and religious fanatics, or as is more common by the state via the IDF, the most cowardly army in the world bar none.
The gall of Israeli Prime Minister in describing this latest act of primeval violence against a baby as an “act of terror” when he has ordered the mass murder of babies and children in Gaza; when his government has created a culture of extremism in its consistent and determined policy to demonize and dehumanize the Palestinian people in order to justify their continued oppression, is off the scale.
As for the so-called international community – in truth the US and its allies – it is an accessory to this child’s murder with the political, economic, military, and diplomatic support it provides the apartheid state of Israel, a state whose crimes, to paraphrase the Irish revolutionary James Connolly, would shame all the devils in hell. Indeed for your average Israeli the very word Palestinian is synonymous with subhuman, the product of a mindset encapsulated in the now infamous words of former Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir, when she said, “There were no Palestinians.”
What Meir revealed was the status of ‘non-people’ that had long been ascribed to the Palestinian not by extremists but the political mainstream within this settler colonial state. Her words were not spoken as statement of historical fact but rather as a statement of intent. It is this intent that drives Israeli policy towards the Palestinian people to this day, whose suffering shames a world in which justice is a gift to be given instead of a universal right, as set out in the UN Charter.
Israel’s claim to victimhood throughout its existence is as hollow as it is perverse. It is a state founded on the mass ethnic cleansing of the land’s indigenous population, and a state that continues to exist at the negation of the remaining Palestinians every hour of every day.
The unfailing and ignoble pandering to Israel that informs the West’s entire policy with regard to the Middle East has only succeeded in creating a monster in the shape of the intransigent, rejectionist, and brutal political culture that now holds sway there, one that is underpinned by a flagrant disregard for international law and the human rights of some 3 million people in the occupied West Bank and 1.8 million in Gaza, which at time of writing remains a pile of rubble after Israel’s summer 2014 air, land, and sea assault in which 2100 Palestinians were slaughtered – around 500 of them children – and up to 9000 injured or maimed, many of them permanently.
Gaza remains under siege, cut off from the outside world, its people and their suffering a symbol of the callous indifference of an international order in which Palestinian blood is not only cheap it is deemed worthless. Israel’s exceptionalism, on the other hand, remains sacrosanct.
Meanwhile the settlements continue to expand across the West Bank, despite their illegality. Over half a million illegal Jewish settlers now colonize land belonging to the Palestinians, who are subjected to daily acts of violence, intimidation, and terror at the hands of religious extremists. In this they are left exposed by an Israeli government that turns a blind eye to their treatment, and indeed arrests and imprisons those who dare complain or protest too vociferously.
There will be no justice for the Palestinians as long as organized hypocrisy continues to impersonate democracy in Washington and throughout European capitals with regard to their plight. Adding insult to grievous injury is how the Palestinians’ courage in resisting the juggernaut of oppression that has reduced their lives to misery is depicted as terrorism, thus used as justification for the status quo
Those responsible for Ali Saad Dawabsha’s murder are the human product of the injustice that sits at the very foundations of a state that wears its brutality as a badge of honour. No state and no people can escape the crimes it commits, and no people can be forever denied justice on the altar of expediency and exceptionalism.
This is why the international campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel offers the Palestinians a lifeline of solidarity, providing them with a semblance of hope. Despite the supine disregard for their rights by political leaders in the West, more and more people are answering their cry for help. It is here, with this international solidarity campaign, where Israel is most vulnerable – for far greater than any economic or material impact the boycott campaign has had and is having is the way it is slowly but surely chipping away at the moral foundations upon which this apartheid state rests.
Ali Saad Dawabsha was burned alive by animals who claim to be acting in the name of God and religion. This innocent child’s murder cannot be allowed to pass without a renewed determination to defeat the system of apartheid, siege, and occupation that nourishes the bigotry and hate that passes for democracy in Israel.
As such, it has never been more important for all who care about justice to declare that we are all Palestinians.