"A terrorist, like those who kidnapped the boys and killed them, the only thing that will deter them, is if they know that either their sister or mother will be raped if they are caught," said Middle East scholar Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University
How can one describe the ongoing massacre in Gaza with language that has long been proven to be slippery?
Where is one to start and finish if one wants a semiological analysis of the dramatic footage of children bleeding to death despite Israel's attempts to convince us that these children were not the targets, but the militants were?
|Shujayea: Massacre at Dawn|
If there were any questions to be asked, they would be about the nature of a hegemonic modern ideology that dehumanises toddlers and drives soldiers to shoot women, shell hospitals and schools used as shelters for those who have become homeless. It is definitely not the right time for such grandiose philosophical questions. But what is the Palestinian to do when she or he lives such a crude political reality?
This article does not claim to be a reasonable political analysis of the "Gaza conflict" and "violent clashes" that erupted recently in the Gaza Strip. Nor does it claim to be an analysis that investigates the background and expected outcome of what many Palestinian activists consider the end of Oslo. It therefore, should not fall into the mind-body bourgeois dichotomy. Emotions at this historical junction cannot be ignored.
Consider this: While writing this article, a dozen Palestinian civilians were killed; more than 1,300 have been killed as Gaza massacre begins its 24th day; rights groups say 80 percent of dead are civilians. And Israeli attacks seem to be on the rise. The (unpuzzling) question that Palestinians have been asking, and answering, is "How can a government which claims commitment to peace with its "Palestinian partner" order its soldiers to shoot and kill indiscriminately?"
The importance of the image in "the age of mechanical reproduction" lies in its ability to convey an instant message. For many, the only source of information is what they see on their TV screens. The footage of headless toddlers, has, therefore, become the direct message that Palestinians want to use to convey: "This is our daily political reality. This is where we have reached 20 years after the signing of the Oslo Accords." So much for the peace process and the two-state solution!
Yet mainstream media has systematically sanitised the images that have been coming out of Gaza to present a more "acceptable" picture of violence.
To echo Edward Said and Noam Chomsky, how can the international media - read western - be objective when they are controlled by five transnational corporations, all of which have intimate relationships with the US defence industry? Are the more than 200 children killed in Gaza only "regrettable" collateral damage?
What about the 28 families that were completely wiped out while having their breakfast? And the children in Shujayea who bled to death for hours while their parents watched because the Israeli soldiers refused to let an ambulance approach the area? And the entire Abu Jamei family getting killed when their four-storey home was targeted by an Israeli fighter jet? How many more are "acceptable collateral damage" for the western media? The Hamads in Beit Hanoun? The Hajjs in Khan Younis? The Syams in Rafah? The Zaanins? Kanan and Saji, Al-Hallaque, massacred together with their father, pregnant mother, grandmother, and aunt while the family was breaking their fast at iftar. And their grandfather, my colleague Professor Akram Hallaque has to live now with the pain of losing his family - wife, daughter (my student), two grandchildren, and pregnant daughter- in-law. His son has been in intensive care for days now.
Who will bring justice to them? Who will be made to pay for the loss of these families? Negotiations brokered by Obama and Kerry on behalf of the Israelis? War criminal Tony Blair? Are they supposed to see a non-sovereign state of West Bank and Gaza as a "fair" deal for the lives of the dear ones they have lost?
Those who have been killed had lived such short lives, all of it in the Gaza Strip - a life lived and lost as refugees under brutal Israeli occupation. It's our fate: to die in the 2006 war, or if not, in the 2008-09 war. Or if you've survived, then another attempt in 2012, and if still living, then they'd finish you off in 2014, or next time in 2015, 2016, 2017?
But is this enough for them? No! Gaza is a challenge to the Israeli regime because here two-thirds of the population are refugees who are entitled to the right of return under UN Resolution 194. Could this be the real reason Israel is committing genocide on Gaza repeatedly? Kill the "brute" and live happily ever after?!
Gaza has become a permanent war zone; the biggest concentration camp on earth has become a burial site - a noisy graveyard. The Palestinian body has become the ultimate target of the Israeli bullet - the younger the better! The Palestinian body has, in other words, become the site of (in) justice: eliminate the body, and it will leave a vacuum that can be occupied - a land without people for people without land.
The Palestinian people have long realised that the so-called "peace process" does not challenge or change the long-held status quo, nor will it allow them to exercise their national and political rights.
Right or left, the Israeli position is crystal clear: No return to the borders of June 4, 1967, No dismantling of Jewish settlements, No return of Palestinian refugees, no backing down on Jerusalem as the undivided, eternal capital city of Israel, and no sovereign, independent Palestinian state with its own military on the western bank of the Jordan river.
The best that is on offer is a Palestinian Bantustan, a reservoir for the unwanted natives. And the people in Gaza don't even deserve that undignified solution: better to get rid of them all with a final solution via genocide with the support of the US president, European countries, the Arab League and even some native Palestinians! Hearing these powerful instigators and supporters of the genocide bleating for a ceasefire 24 days after such a huge massacre adds insult to injury!
The Palestinians of Gaza get blamed for being shot and bombed because they did not run away; they get blamed for being in the same building that they have lived in all their short, brutal lives; they get blamed for not being able to run in 57 seconds; they get blamed for letting their children play on the beach.
And they get blamed for refusing to let the coloniser, the occupier, the oppressor, the murderer and its allies dispossess them and dishonour their dead with their false words, their biased media channels, their fake empathy and their useless shuttle diplomacy that has no intention of giving Palestinians their rights under international law. Hence, the unprecedented brutality continues!
Haidar Eid is an associate Professor at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.