FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has closed the only crossing point for commercial goods to enter and leave the Gaza Strip.  He is unhappy that Palestinian protestors have deployed incendiary kites. Rather than address the illegal blockade which gave rise to the protests, Netanyahu has decreed that Gazan Palestinians will be permitted no trade, no shops and no goods to buy, as if he bestows those things as favours.  Gazans will henceforth line up to receive only those humanitarian relief which Netanyahu approves on a case by case basis.

Two million Gazan Palestinians are living in his War of the Worlds fever dream.

I lived and worked in Gaza 2011 – 2015.  I do not speak for anyone there, but I do speak with a wrenching fear for the community that Netanyahu is trying to break.

I have always refused to refer to Gaza as an open-air prison.  Prisons are permanent institutions in our societies. Individuals are convicted and sentenced to prison for a time, and we debate the policies of their treatment. Gaza is a ghetto, an ethnic enclosure where babies are born into open-ended confinement.  Whole communities are condemned to carve out their family and collective lives in a ghetto.  In essence, a ghetto deems a people to be less than human, deserving of less than the rights of humans.

A ghetto is, by definition, a crime.  When we call Gaza a ghetto, we begin by acknowledging that the occupation and blockade are massive crimes, inexcusable and escalating.  To wonder at the life that Gaza built within its walls, is emphatically not a way of accepting the regime that they are trying to survive.

The West Bank’s fragmentation made for constant friction with Israel’s occupying forces. Gaza was the antithesis.  The threat was pervasive.  The horizon was a concrete wall, and the sea flowed as far as the gunboats.  Drones hovered and buzzed overhead.  The occupation was all around, but not between, Gazans.  They were squeezed together in a miniature, complex world, one marathon in length.  In response, they made exceptional choices about how they would share their space.

Several elements seemed constitutive of Gaza’s collective life:  their love of education, their families, their stubborn family-owned shops, their mutual assistance, and their resistance.  None of those things could be taken for granted. Two million other people might have responded to their ghettoization differently, and Gaza might have felt like a jungle of all against all.

Instead, Gazans built universities, and observed special noise by-laws on exam days.  Strollers along the beach met every electricity cut with a defiant cheer, night after night.  Under attack in 2012 and 2014, my colleagues called and offered to drive through the bombardments, to bring me to their homes because bombs were less frightening in rooms full of family.  After each military assault, parents struggled to live with their inability to protect their children – and then it normalized into their gnawing inability to provide their children with basic human entitlements like clean water, safety and the prospect of a peaceful life.

This year, these constitutive heartbeats of Gaza have come under fire from Netanyahu, Trump, and their enablers.  Defunding UNRWA jeopardizes the education, public sector and emergency services available to the two-thirds of Gazans who are registered refugees.   There is less electricity, less liquidity, less economic activity, less of everything for more people in the same space.  Over 130 protestors have been killed, and more Gazans have been wounded than Gaza has hospital bed.

Now Netanyahu has ended trade.  One man is emptying the shelves of two million human beings.  The royal prerogative, the terror of it: he is dismantling a community before our eyes.  In broad daylight, he is trying to bury it alive.

Whether or not he has gone clinically mad, Netanyahu must be calculating that he can get away with it in our disrupted moment.  Gaza matters disproportionately to the present disruption.  Two galloping processes meet on its field of protest.  Illiberal power is dispensing with law and the rights of humans, dismantling protections and cultivating resentments.  Grassroots resistance is weaving together the structure of oppression, and realizing new alliances.

Gaza is just one little vortex.  Yet the blockade’s gross power disparities and fierce resistance have also made it the proving ground for a malevolent biopolitical control.   Gaza matters for its own sake, and it matters again as a bellweather.  That which is gotten away with in Gaza, will surface again where other walls are built, where surplus people are warehoused, and where other protestors dig their heels in.   We have seen, over and over, that Gaza’s densely populated neighbourhoods are the testing sites for strategies of asymmetrical urban assault.

My rage in Gazans’ place would be boundless.

I also rage as a Jew.   I am incredulous that mainstream Jewish institutions are willing to use this ugly global moment to get the dirty work of nationalism done.   Too many of our temples give religious cover to racism and violence.  Public discourse is learning to distinguish between Judaism and Zionism, and it’s past time for Jews to do the same:  the occupation is not a religious experience.

Netanyahu is slavering for the next pretext to throw his bombs at two million trapped people.   I don’t know if he can be stopped, and neither can I imagine how to live in the world he signals.

More articles by:

Marilyn Garson worked with communities affected by war from 1998 – 2015.  She now writes from New Zealand.  Her blog is Transforming Gaza, and you can follow her on Twitter @skinonbothsides 

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail