“There is no such thing as a Palestinian.” – Golda Meir
“The old will die and the young will forget.” – David Ben-Gurion
Israelis have many things to say about Palestinians, none of them humanising or related to reality. They continue to create their false narrative making Orwellian words their allies. From 1948 to today, words have been a weapon as important as their army, their navy and their air force.
Their words and their machinery of death have created a situation in Gaza today that defies description. The lack of water and electricity, the inability to find bodies under massive piles of rubble because bare hands can only do so much, the barbarism of targeting children. Words are so inadequate to express the anger and trauma, the resilience and the solidarity.
|Gaza high-rise hit by Israeli strikes|
Where is one to begin and end if one wants to present a “neutral” analysis of the “dramatic” footage of the massive “surgical” explosions of the five multi-storey residential apartment blocks, (two as high as 13 storeys) located in densely populated areas in Gaza City and Rafah.
Tellingly, a Western journalist interviewing me on these war crimes had this to say: “But Israel is saying that these apartment blocks were used as headquarters for Khamas [sic]?” To which I replied:” Israel could have said that these residential towers had the body of Hitler buried under them, and that they had nuclear war heads hidden there, and you would nevertheless, still ask the same question and expect me to respond to that ‘neutral’ question!”
It never occurred to this journalist to consider that this destruction of the homes of tens of families is unjustified irrespective of what was under the building. That there was anything whatsoever underneath has not been proven in any way whatsoever.
Take the footage of the children injured and bleeding to death in these attacks. In spite of Israel’s attempts to convince us that militants were the target, and not these children, is this a rationale that we are supposed to accept when Israel bombs residential blocks housing families? And those same “militants” that are targeted today were perhaps the five-year-olds of 1967, or the children of the first intifada in 1987, or maybe the children of the second intifada in 2000.
So it is Palestine’s children that Israel is targeting because we are all Palestine’s children irrespective of how old we are. And the Israeli war machine has been targeting us for 65 long years with increasing brutality and viciousness with every minute that goes by, and with each new technological discovery that enhances their ability to kill and maim with the gruesome sophistication of 21st century warfare.
The questions to be asked are 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 whom they have made homeless. If there were questions to be asked it would be to question their need to make their presence felt by reducing homes, shopping malls and markets to rubble with increasing regularity. It would be to question their indiscriminate killing of anyone in their path, and crudely calling it “mowing the lawn”. It would be to question the leaders of the world and the multilateral organisations that fail to act in spite of the loud voices of the people of the world demanding such action.
The war today is an echo of the war of 2012, and that is a reminder of the war of 2009 and before that the war of 2008 and still before the war of 1967, 1956 and 1948. The war of today, therefore, is an echo of the 1948 Nakba, and the 1967 Naksa and Sabra and Shatila in 1983.
Those wars are in our genes and in our memories, whether we were there or not. They are part of our collective memory and our collective trauma, our collective and individual unconscious. We remember them from the stories we were told and we see them in our lives from 1948. Edward Said calls it “the Palestinian narrative” that should be registered. War after war, an unending Nakba. Our parents experiences mix with our current reality. They could not protect us when we were children and now we cannot protect our children. We try but they know as much as we do that this war, like the ones before, comes in wherever it wants to and there are no places too sacred for it.
|Shujayea: Massacre at Dawn|
But we are not just cannon fodder for Israeli soldiers. We are not just victims trying to save our families. We have our memories of the olive trees we left behind, the warmth of the earth and the smell of the zaa’tar and marameyya on the hillside of the West Bank. We have the keys to our homes and the “knowledge” that this land is our land. We are here and we will not be ignored nor will we be exterminated. We are the rightful owners of this land and we will pass on this heritage to the next generation.
The Israeli killing machine is frustrated by our refusal to die: to be ethnically cleansed like the doomed Native Americans and the Aboriginal Australians. They vent their anger because we “force” them to kill us, because we “make” them look bad, because we subvert their victim narrative. The Israeli killing machine would not be able to do its job without the support ofthe United States and the emasculated United Nations.
So they gather together in the capitals of the world and pontificate in public and call for a ceasefire between the “two sides”, unconditional, immediate! If there is something the oppressed Palestinian hates, other than Zionist racism and wrath, it is the complicity of Europe and the US, a complicity that considered Nelson Mandela the arch terrorist of the 20th century!
But of course we know that this handwringing and pontification is meaningless because they have been doing this for decades: under British Mandate Palestine and with a succession of presidents and secretaries general. Loud noises, flurry of travel and meetings and no action: The failure to act is not accidental but deliberate, a ploy to divert public attention while still keeping all the power in the hands of apartheid Israel.
So far, just in this war, and to bring to an end the illegal, hermetic siege of Gaza, 2,142 killed, 490 of whom are children, 260 of whom are women, 101 of whom are elderly. More than 11,000 Palestinians have been injured, many with permanent disabilities and serious life-changing brain and other injuries. How many more wars and deaths and injuries and destroyed homes and apartment blocks will it take to end Israeli occupation, colonialism, and apartheid?
The prevailing feeling here in Gaza is that if the world does not intervene decisively, Israel is intent on slaughtering us all. And the technology and sophistication of modern warfare to do this is already in the hands one of the world’s most powerful armies, so our fear that they will kill us all is not unfounded.
The support of civil society around the world has been a source of immense encouragement in these dark days and painful nights. The voices of those outside the centres of power have shown us loudly and clearly that they are walking this journey with us. The support of countries from the South speak of their experience of racism, colonialism and dispossession. Our occupation is their history. Our struggle their shame. Governments of the world will not act until their citizens demand action from them, and our brothers and sisters around the world have made their demands known loudly and clearly. This kind of citizen activism has worked in other countries and it will work for us too.
The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is growing daily. Civil society has roared their rejection of apartheid Israel on the streets of world capitals. That roar must continue and move even deeper into churches, mosques, temples, unions, universities and schools. It must be seen in supermarkets and in the boycott of companies that sell Israeli products. It must be heard ever louder in parliaments and sports fields, increasing the isolation of apartheid Israel. That roar must drown out the words and actions of apartheid Israel, and allow Palestinians to breathe, to speak, to write, to live!!
Haidar Eid is an associate Professor at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.