Gaza and Ghosts of the Bronze Age

Entry of Alexander into Babylon by Charles Le Brun (1665)

Alexander the Great razed Gaza to the ground in the 3rd century BC. He was in a towering rage  because Gaza, unlike most of the other cities  he passed through on his way to Egypt, had been defiant, and  had closed its gates. The  King was further incensed  by the skill of  Gazan raiding parties: they  sped out of  the  city gates on their  light Arabian horses, across the sand, which  encumbered the feet of the heavy  Macedonian  steeds.  They were superb archers, and a  Gazan arrow  made a serious wound in Alexander’s shoulder.

Alexander slept with a copy of the Iliad under his pillow. He  had recently visited  the ancient city of Troy, where he’d   appropriated the  armor of Achilles. He wore this into battle. After five months   his army  finally penetrated Gaza’s  formidable defenses.  In his fury, Alexander  seized the governor, and re-enacted Achilles’ revengeful desecration of  Hector, by piercing his ankles and dragging his body behind his chariot three times around the city. Then he put all the men and boys to the sword, and sold the women and children into slavery.

Alexander inhabited a legendary universe which  existed  a thousand years before he was born. In this world,  gods mingled and consorted with  humans. His own  paternity had been laid open to question, by rivals seeking to dethrone him. Having  just cut the Gordian knot, a fabled act that conferred promises of omnipotence from the  gods, his belief in his own deity was reinforced. The  oracle at Delphi had told him he was invincible, and the renowned Egyptian sibyl at Siwa was about to tell him his father was Zeus/Amon. This, together with his own native charisma and brilliance as a general, drove his zeal  to possess  the world  which,  he did not doubt,  belonged to him.

Alexander the Great and  Benjamin Netanyahu would seem to have very little in common. But their respective revenges on Gaza display the same wrathful obsession with retribution. Both,  possessed by ghosts, consort with spirits which have  lingered in the world  for three thousand years, since the thirteenth century BC.

The architects of their imaginary worlds are warriors long dead. Alexander in his imagination, was the near-immortal hero Achilles. The echoes of Netanyahu’s ghost world  resonate from even farther, from Jehovah’s intimate communication, and  commitments concerning a promised land, with Moses,  three thousand years ago.

 The insult that brought Alexander’s rage to a frenzy was the near-fatal shoulder wound. It proved to him that he was not immortal.

October 7th  profoundly humiliated Netanyahu before his own people and before the world, as  the famed Israeli defense network,  military intelligence system, Aman, with its Iron Dome, Mossad, and Shin Bet, the  national security system, were incapable of protecting its people against  3000  Hamas fighters on Chinese  minibikes.

 Netanyahu’s religious beliefs are private, though apparently he has said he is an atheist. He professes  secular Judaism, a persuasion  which  exalts  cultural and ethnic,  rather than  devotional,  elements of Judaism. However, his psychic architecture  grew out of a deep  eastern European Ashkenazi cultural  root, comprising the Torah, the Talmud and  centuries of  European Jewish culture, canonical scriptures, literature  and law. The nucleus of this culture  is

Jehovah’s  promise that Palestine would belong to his chosen people. Secular  Judaism  does not question this promise. Netanyahu is  a thoroughly  Americanized Israeli. His excellent American education  taught him that  most  of the Bible is accumulated myth and folk tale. In modern  political history, the creation of Israel  cannot be disguised as anything but neocolonialism. Nonetheless Netanyahu  believes in Jehovah’s promise.His speeches ring with  Biblical events, and the ghosts of Moses, Joshua, King David, and Sampson  obsessively haunt the recesses of and maintain the thoroughfares of his  consciousness:

“I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee…I will not drive them out from before thee in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beast of the field multiply against thee… but by little and little  I will drive them out before thee, until thou be increased and inherit the land. And I will set thy bounds from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river, for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land  into your hand, and thou shalt drive them out before thee”.

                              …Exodus 23 verses 27-31

This promise was fulfilled for a period, during the last  part of the second millennium BC. when

 a Jewish kingdom,insignificant in comparison to the mighty empires of the times, existed in the area designated by Jehovah. However all but a few Jews in Palestine were driven into a diaspora after the destruction of the Second Temple in 63 AD. Since then, Palestine has been populated or ruled by waves of different empires, lasting various lengths of time, until 1948.

At that point, the geopolitical interests of the US and  Europe coincided with the Mosaic promise, to allow the Jews another chance at a nation state. The catastrophe which brought this about was the holocaust.

By the beginning of WWII 57% of the world’s Jews lived in Europe. Six million  were destroyed during the war, leaving three and a half  million  survivors  looking for  place to go. Their  prewar property had been  confiscated and repossessed, their home towns were  more often than not hostile and dangerous, and no nations in the world wanted to take more than a small number of  Jewish immigrants (the Dominican Republic was an exception).The British mandate of  Palestine was therefore a ready solution for relocation. Moreover, it had an additional advantage. During the late forties and the  fifties, when  a tide of decolonialization was sweeping the globe,  an  armed  nation state of Israel would provide a well-placed foothold for the victors of WWII to maintain military and economic supremacy. The creation of a nation state, Israel, in the turbulent Middle East,  would be reimbursed with fealty to the empire, and could  provide anti-terrorism services in the region and in Africa.

In a deeply ironical postscript, it could  support anti-communism and racism as well.

At that time, in 1948, the Arab population  of Palestine was about twice the size of the Jewish population, one million and 550,000 respectively.  Huge numbers of  Jews arriving from Europe, with an entirely different cultural background and language, created deep  anxiety  among the indigenous Arabs ,who had lived there for millennia. Moreover the new immigrants made it clear they  wanted nothing to do with the indigenous population of Arabs. They wanted  the Palestinian land in order  to create a Jewish nation state.

Netanyahu’s grandfather wanted to build an “iron wall” between the Jewish and  non-Jewish inhabitants, as the Bible instructed:

“Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods…they shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me…”

                                                     Exodus 23 vs.32-33

Israel embarked upon a program of ethnic cleansing  in Palestine after the UN  partition agreement, and  established the state of Israel when the British withdrew in May 1948. Civil war and  chaos intensified by foreign interference, had already  cleansed 750,000

Palestinians from  their homeland.  There was,  however, still a majority of Arabs in Palestine.

The Biblical  Jehovah had  said, “ I will not drive them out before thee in one year…but little by little”. However, the European immigrants to Palestine  had a model  for removing undesirable populations on a more businesslike time frame,  drawn from recent history, which provided  incremental steps to ease the process. The history was their own destruction  in the holocaust.

By means of  about 400 laws, policies and decrees  passed in Germany from Hitler’s accession to power and until the end of WWII, an itinerary was built for  the enactment of  ethnic cleansing and genocide of Jews, Russians, Roma, Communists, and weak and undesirable members of the community. These same steps  can be delineated clearly in the new Jewish nation state of Israel, from its  clearly apartheid origins. They are 1) definition (listing the  characteristics of the aliens) 2)isolation ( denial of  access to schools, businesses,  citizenship withdrawal, and, in the case of the Nazis, an identificatory  yellow star) 3) emigration, spurred by property and land seizures and threats 4) ghettoization, enforced by walls 5) deportation (relocating to prison camps, in the Reich, and in Gaza to the occupied territories and refugee camps, and 6) mass murder (in the Reich and  invaded territories, by Einsatzgruppen, which were mobile extermination organs, and death camps;  and in Gaza, by Israeli settler violence, bombings, shooting demonstrators  as in the Great March of Return, and after  October 7th, death camps and death marches.

If these steps were taken efficiently, the result would be the configuration of the Volksgemeinschaft, the “people’s community” which  conformed to  racial ideals and standards,

the dream of the Nazis and of the Jewish state of Israel as well.

It was obvious to the world that Israel, created in 1948, would be  an  apartheid state (which is in itself a crime against humanity ). The memes, “People without a land, land without a people” and that “Israel made the desert bloom” were utter fiction, as detailed by Miko Peled, a 63-year-old professor born and raised in Israel, former IDF officer, and  son of a famous Israeli  general, in many lectures. When the refugee Jews arrived from Europe, they found a Palestine blooming with  cultivation: oranges, cotton, barley,  and olive oil produced for domestic consumption and export. There were cities alive with culture, and, as a sacred place for three of the world’s most populous religions, sites for  deeply reverent tourism, from many countries of the world.

The incremental advances of the  WWII holocaust and its intended Final Solution, had branded the  hearts and minds of anyone who had lived through it, or had shivered with fear for those  who did not escape. The arriving European Jews knew, through their own experience, how to  deal with a population it  recognized as alien. Emigration  of non-Jews from the promised land was facilitated by the civil war of 1947-9, and extended through increased armed conflict.  As in Nazi Germany,  race was the determinative characteristic defining an Israeli:  as in Germany, based on  race of grandparents. Any Jew with the right  formulaic bloodlines  can be an Israeli citizen on demand, through the Law of Return. ( Non-Jewish Palestinians have no Right of Return). Ghettoization was accomplished on a large scale through wars, and on a  neighborhood scale through bulldozing, settler violence, and walls.  Arabs were further isolated by  civil rights restrictions, inferior schools, travel, jobs, and bureaucratic checkpoints. In southern Israel, where 300,000 Bedouins live, Arabs are not permitted to be farmers or dig wells. Phones and water can be turned off at any time. Although the Palestinian population of Israel is  larger than the Jewish,  it is allotted only 3% of the water resource.

Gaza has been described for decades as an outdoor prison camp. And now the analogy has reached a grotesque replica of the Final Solution: calorie and water restrictions, herding  into smaller areas, death marches, bombing hospitals and refusal to allow medical care or means to curtail the spread of diseases, and extermination.

Miko Peled reminds us, in a sharp admonishment, that anyone in the US who pays taxes “has a dog in the game” of the ongoing extermination of Gaza. Indeed.  Without  the billions of dollars which flow from the US to Israel, the genocide would be impossible. With our lockstep  Congress and media-managed public we are what we once loathed when it existed in  WWII Germany: a popular  permission for genocide. Resistance is  punished:  the world-famous Ai Wei Wei ‘s exhibits are cancelled, because he criticized Israel. Freedom of speech  is severely curtailed. Protests and marches are harassed or forbidden. Workers in  several states have been asked to sign loyalty oaths to Israel (!) and have been fired if they refuse.

 Miko was stopped  quickly from   pronouncing the words “from the river to the sea”  in a

speech he gave at a  library in Delmar New York, and the  peace group sponsoring him was banned from making presentations at the library for a year.

A truly monstrous resonance  between the Nazi  and Israeli states can be seen in  their  patriotic songs.  Music can confer the enormous  power of  spiritual and ideological  penetration, whether  for good or evil. It is used as a weapon.

 The Nazi regime reveled in song. Thus, the official song of the Hitler Jugend (the  boys’ and girls’ physical and ideological war preparatory division)  can be watched on youtube, where sung by  sung by earnest little clear-eyed  fellows, flagged and  in uniform:

Forwards! Forward!  Our flag flutters before us

Into the future we are marching side by  side

We are marching for Hitler

It guides us to Eternity

The flag is more to us than death!

The second most popular song in Israel can currently be seen on youtube  as well. The children

are beautiful and innocent, some appearing as young as five:

Autumn night falls over the beaches of Gaza

Planes bomb, destruction, destruction

Look, the IDF is crossing the line

To annihilate the swastika bearers

In another year there will be nothing there

And we will safely return to our homes

Within a year we will annihilate everyone

And then we will return to plow our fields

And we will remember everyone

The pretty and the pure

And will never let our hearts

Forget a friendship like that

Love sanctified by blood

You will return and bloom among us

We have now run out of words

Our soul still cries out

Our soul not only sings

Today our soul also fights…


Reproduced in Owen Jones’ commentary

And independently from other youtube sources, where it tends to disappear

Baldur von  Schirach, who managed the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Austrians to death camps,  and who was one of the  twenty-two defendants at the International War Crimes Trial in Nuremberg,  remarked in 1938, “The real, great educational act for a people lies in ingraining in youth blind obedience, unshakeable loyalty, unconditional comradeship and absolute reliability.”[1]: Ch 11 

Netanyahu accused President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil, of trivializing the  genocide in progress in Gaza, when he compared it  to the  Nazi holocaust. However,  the patterns and motivations are clearly similar. At one point, during the articulation of the Final Solution, Hitler was doubtful whether the Einsatzgruppen, his SS executioners on the eastern front, would be up to the task of  killing women and children. However, he exclaimed later that they performed the task  enthusiastically and wonderfully.

The two- state solution will not work. The one-state solution will only work in a different world.  However it is blindingly clear that the  colonial project of the state of Israel needs to be terminated.

Ellen Taylor can be reached at