Gaza: A Capitalist Genocide (Essay)

[Note: This essay was written from a standpoint that seeks to decrease (and ultimately destroy) all discrimination (based on ethnicity, religion, or other factors) through the dissemination of information and reasoned analysis. Zionism is not synonymous with Judaism. Islamism is not the same as Islam. And imperialism is not a word interchangeable with Christianity. Greed is not limited to one religion or one ethnic group, and none has a monopoly on brutality. And, more importantly, none is immune from feelings of compassion or solidarity. We are all capable of feeling hatred, and we are all capable of feeling love. This piece of work aims to foster the latter.]

In July 2014, the Israeli government decided to attack Gaza once again, and over two thousand Gazans were killed as a result. In this essay, my aim is not only to clarify the facts about what has happened during the offensive, but also to discuss in greater detail why it has happened, and how the world can stop it from happening again. In the first section, I will describe the assault and the reasons why Israel has been accused of committing war crimes. In the second section, I will take a look at the history that has led up to the current conflict, and the role that Zionism has played. In the third section, I will explore why it is so important for Israel to control Palestine, and kill so many Palestinian civilians in the process. In the fourth section, I will look at the role the mainstream media has played in allowing Israel to get away with behaving as it has. In the penultimate section, I will analyse the comments and actions of the international community in solidarity with Palestinians and in opposition to Israeli actions in Gaza. In the final section, I will take a look at what the future holds for the region, and how the world can act to ensure that a peaceful solution is found to the ‘Palestinian Question’.

In particular, this essay seeks to demonstrate how the Israeli attack on Gaza represents the worst excesses of the capitalist system: war, division, hatred, racism, and colonialism. In the various sections, the reader will see that the control Israel exerts over Palestinian lives is not simply a result of ‘self-defence’ policies, but of an attempt to ethnically cleanse the land it wishes to control. They will also see that Israel has become an important part of the strategy of Western political and economic elites, which explains how its own elite has successfully obtained Western support for decades. The financial power of these capitalist elites has been completely necessary to ensure Israel’s safety and immunity in spite of the war crimes and other violations of international law that it has committed. Simply speaking, Israel has the world’s capitalist class on its side, and Palestinians do not. Therefore, the crimes of Israel can be seen as the crimes of capitalism.

1) The 2014 Israeli Attack on Gaza

The context of the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza is complicated, but we can come close to understanding it if we take more than just a superficial look based on what the mainstream corporate media tells us. The fact is that, during the attack, over two thousand Palestinians have died, and the vast majority have been civilians. The reason for so many civilian casualties in Gaza has not been because Hamas uses ‘human shields’, as the Israeli propaganda system would like us to believe. The best and most concise explanation for this sad reality is that “an incredibly powerful air force is bombing the hell out of one of the most crowded, vulnerable places in the world”. [1]

The Destruction of Schools, Hospitals, Homes, and Civilian Lives

Up to the 18th of August, 3,084 of the 10,193 Palestinians wounded were said to have been children and, of the 2,016 deaths, almost 80% were civilians and 541 were children. One hundred and forty one government schools had been damaged, along with 136 UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools and six universities. Meanwhile, 10 hospitals had been destroyed, 49 health facilities closed, and 7 clinics and 12 ambulances damaged. Around 9,600 homes had been totally destroyed, 7,880 partially destroyed, and 40,000 damaged. Sixty-nine mosques had also been completely destroyed, with another 150 being partially destroyed. Eight water supply and wastewater plants, along with 19 electricity facilities, were also damaged or destroyed, while more than 17,000 employees were affected by the damaging of businesses. [2] If “tap water is almost poisonous even in times of peace” thanks to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, the destruction of the territory’s water supply just adds to civilian desperation. Many Gazans already had to rely on aid to survive but, thanks to their isolation from the world and lack of control over their own lives, they are forced into buying water from “around a hundred private companies” as well (which still “doesn’t reach the water standards of Israel or Europe”). [3] Considering the already dire situation in Gaza, the current Israeli assault simply makes life even more horrific, showing that sufficient care has not been taken, as Israel would like us to believe, to protect the civilian population or prevent damage to civilian objects.

“Unconventional Weapons” and Unequal Enemies

There is yet another indication that Israel is not interested in protecting civilians or their possessions, though, and that is its use of “unconventional weapons”. At the beginning of August, for example, it came to light that “explosive barrels” had been used in Gaza – the kind that has caused outrage from the international community when used in the Syrian civil war. [4] Meanwhile, “illegal weapons such as White Phosphorous and the experimental explosive DIME”” have also been used by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). [5] Electronic Intifada affirms that “medical teams have registered injuries consistent with those caused by DIME [dense inert metal explosives] and other banned weapons”, which leave many Palestinian civilians with “future handicaps”. DIME bombs, for example, contain “tungsten, a cancer-causing metal that helps to produce incredibly destructive blasts which slice through flesh and bone”. In fact, Gaza has effectively been the testing ground in the past for weapons like DIME, and its citizens have functioned as “involuntary lab rats for Israel’s weapons industry”. [6]

Resistance versus Occupation

One thing that the IDF has found out in the current conflict is that resistance in Gaza is more organised and capable than it expected. “Against all the odds”, said El País, “the significantly out-funded and outgunned Palestinian resistance has fought back against the Israeli ground invasion”. [7] “The Israeli military toll”, meanwhile, has been around “ten times that of the year of 2008”, partly thanks to support Hamas had received from Hezbollah in the years since the last Israeli invasion. During this period, “Hamas and its allies in Gaza have learned [that] …suicide attacks on civilians … [generate] negative publicity… [and] are not popular among Arabs”. Their intelligence apparatus has also improved and, by the beginning of August, not “one key commander of the resistance groups” had been killed by the IDF. [8]

By many standards, “this has been Israel’s most self-defeating war”, and it seems to have shocked the world more than previous Israeli invasions. “On the diplomatic front”, according to The Brunei Times, “it has been a disaster” in all senses. Instead of making Hamas politically irrelevant and reducing its resistance capability, the invasion has done the opposite. The IDF has been left “tired and humiliated”, and Israel’s ‘self-defence’ rhetoric has been shown to be a façade for genocide. As a result, “Hamas has emerged the hero of resistance” and its “political grip” on Gaza has been consolidated. With its ferocity in man on man battles in the streets, Hamas caused the loss of numerous Israeli soldiers once the ground invasion had begun. If Israel’s aim was to lionise Hamas even more in the eyes of many Gazans, it has done a good job. Its publically-stated missions, however, have been largely unsuccessful. [9]

Not Just in Gaza

Gaza has not been the only ‘battlefront’ in the Israeli assault on Palestinians. In Jerusalem, the climate of hatred and violence fostered by the Israeli political establishment has left life for Arabs there very difficult. The life of a Palestinian ‘resident’ in Jerusalem, according to Jalal Abukhater, is far from equal to that of an Israeli resident. He says he fears to leave his house at night thanks to mobs of nationalist Jewish youths who have beaten and even killed Palestinians in the city over the last month. “Hate, violence and incitement”, he insists, “are on a sharp rise in this city, and Israeli politicians are to blame”. The “severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on Muslim worshipers”, meanwhile, shows that there is no true “freedom of religious practice” in Israel. Even “passing Christian clergy members [get] spat at by either ultra-Orthodox Jews or flag-waving youths”, he says.

“Racism and discrimination here [are] institutional”, Abukhater affirms, with Palestinian residents being “treated as second class” citizens. “Tax-paying Arab residents”, for example, “receive little to none of the services they pay for and deserve”, and Shuafat refugee camp is just one example of this “institutional racism and segregation”. Palestinian residents in Jerusalem are “not allowed to live anywhere else or obtain any citizenship”, he says, and that is one example of “an increasingly insane system of injustice” in the city. [10]

Israel’s War Crimes and Violations of International Law

It is clear that Israel has violated both the UN charter and International humanitarian law on numerous occasions, in particular during the recent invasion of Gaza. According to attorney Manal Tellawi, the UN Charter asserts the “right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations”. On that point, Israel does indeed have the ‘right to self-defence’, but Palestine, which is not yet a member state of the UN, doesn’t. The International Court of Justice, however, affirms that “Israel cannot invoke [its] right [to self-defence] in territory it exercises complete control over” – which has been the case in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967, and the UN has accordingly designated them as “occupied territory”. Even though Israeli troops no longer have a constant presence in Gaza, the state still “maintains control over its borders, water sources, electricity, [and] population registry”, so Gaza is still considered to be occupied under international law. As a result, Israel still has “a duty as occupier”, according to Tellawi, “to ensure the well-being and security of the Palestinian people”. Meanwhile, the withdrawal of 8,000 Israeli settlers from Gaza in 2005 was seen to be a cynical strategic move, as settlers were simply moved into occupied territory in the West Bank instead. Israel, therefore, failed to comply with Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which asserts that “the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.

Tellawi continues, affirming that Israel has failed to comply with the international principles ofdistinction and proportionality”. For example, mosques and churches have been bombed, thousands of families have had their homes destroyed, and hundreds of residential buildings have been attacked. Peopletaking no active part in hostilities”, the third Common Article of the Geneva Convention insists, “are not legitimate targets”. And, if there is any uncertainty about whether targets are combatants or not, they “must be treated as civilians”.


In spite of IDF claims that they take “the utmost care” to avoid civilian casualties, the following places have been targeted:

  • Civilian neighbourhoods, homes, and entire apartment complexes;
  • Schools, mosques, churches, UN buildings, and other places of refuge;
  • Electricity generators, water pipes and plants;
  • And ambulances, medical facilities (including Wafa Hospital in Gaza City and Al-Shifa hospital), and the Gaza Center for the Disabled.

These attacks are clear proof that the IDF “does not exercise the utmost care in avoiding civilians”, as the Israeli government would like us to believe. Israeli forces claim civilian casualties are unfortunate but “legitimate” if they serve a “military objective”, but Article 5 of the Additional Protocol I insists that “any attack by bombardment or any other means that is intended to destroy a single or distinct military target in a highly populated civilian area AND is expected to cause incidental loss of life is unlawful”. Gazan civilians, kept isolated by the Israeli blockade, have been left nowhere to hide or flee from Israel’s military offensive, just like Sarajevans in the Serbian siege of the early 1990s. As a result of the latter, Serbian generals are now “being tried for war crimes in The Hague”, and there is no reason why the same should not happen to Israeli generals now.

The overwhelming fact is that Israeli forces have failed to determine with any certainty the military advantages of destroying particular ‘targets’. According to Tellawi, “almost all facilities targeted by Israel have not been proven to contain weapons or serve as command centers for Hamas”. Claims by Israeli officials that they did do not stand up as evidence. The deaths of innocent civilians, however, do. They are clear evidence of Israel’s violations of international law. Claims that Hamas bears “the responsibility for Palestinian civilian deaths”, Tellawi affirms, are “ludicrous”. There is no evidence of Hamas using ‘human shields’, and it is absurd to suggest that most Palestinians would not try to “protect their children and loved ones… [and] flee to areas of safety” if there was anywhere that was actually safe. By continuing their blockade of Gaza, it is both Israel and Egypt who are to blame for preventing Gazans from fleeing the Israeli attack – and for the civilian deaths that have occurred as a result.

If the International Criminal Court (ICC) accepts the complaint made by the Palestinian Authority (a non-member state) relating to Israeli war crimes in Gaza, it will be a big step forward. If it doesn’t, then we as citizens of the world must not simply “allow another episode of collective punishment against Gaza to go unnoticed and unaddressed”. We must intensify the boycott against the Israeli State and increase our acts of solidarity with the Palestinian people until those responsible for war crimes against them are held accountable. [11]

2) A Short History of Zionism in Palestine and Israel

Palestine is officially a territory under Israeli occupation, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is primarily about this “suffocating military occupation” of Palestinian territories. It is about land and not, as Israeli propaganda would like us to believe, about defence or religion. [12]

The people of any territory are seldom wholly to blame for their government’s actions, as their inaction or complicity is usually the result of fear or ignorance (or the hatred they allow to flourish). The ability of the Israeli government to commit horrific acts, therefore, can in large part be explained by the fear and ignorance of a significant sector of the Israeli population – often incited by the country’s politicians and media. To understand why this is the case, it is essential to understand both Jewish history and the ideology of Zionism.

A History of Persecution

Jewish communities have suffered persecution for over two millennia, being exiled from Egypt and having the First Temple of Israel destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th century BCE. In the 1st century CE, the Jews’ rebellious behaviour led to their persecution at the hands of the Romans, and they were subsequently expelled from the area, which was renamed Syria-Palaestina. They settled throughout Europe, but encountered hostility in Christian countries on numerous occasions. At the end of the 15th century, for example, they were expelled from both Spain and Portugal. In the 19th century, meanwhile, anti-Semitism and hostility towards Jewish communities began to grow, with particular persecution occurring in Imperial Russia. With help from Jewish philanthropists in Western Europe, the First Aliyah (or migration) to Palestine began in around 1882, with migrants founding a number of agricultural settlements. In the next couple of decades, the movement of Zionism would increase its importance significantly.

An Ethnocentric Political Ideology

Zionism would best be characterised as a political ideology based primarily on ethnic identity. Numerous schools of Zionism arose from the very start (at the end of the 19th century), but each agreed that a Jewish national homeland should be formed in Palestine in order to build Jewish self-determination and freedom from persecution. The World Zionist Organization (WZO), led by Theodor Herzl, was created in 1897. Herzl’s aim was to prepare the way for the creation of a Jewish state. In 1895, he said this process needed to be undertaken “discreetly and circumspectly”, by encouraging “the penniless [indigenous] population across the frontier by denying it employment” or “procuring employment for it in the transit countries”. He also said “we must expropriate gently the private property” in Palestine, getting landowners to feel they were “selling things for more than they are worth”.

The colonising attitude and ethnic discrimination present within Zionism would be the main reason for conflict between Palestinians and Zionists, but the differences between distinct schools of Zionism must not be overlooked, as the ideology encompassed a number of views about what a ‘national homeland’ should look like. For example, the liberal, capitalist school of Liberal Zionism dominated until the end of the First World War, when increased Zionist migration to Palestine led to forms of socialist organisation, and the philosophy of Labor Zionism. When statehood became the key Zionist aim in the 1940s, however, the influence of Nationalist Zionism (an advocate of a more violent, ethnocentric militarism) began to take a greater hold of Zionist politics, though Labor Zionists would maintain control until 1977. Ever since the 1977 elections, however, Nationalist Zionists have dominated Israeli politics, with the violent, pro-settlement, religious Neo-Zionists gradually gaining more and more power. The latter group, with clearly fascist tendencies, actually believes that peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews is impossible, and that Arab presence in Israel and Palestine poses a threat to a Jewish-majority state. [13]

It must also be noted at this point that there are also Jews who oppose Zionism, and they come from both secular and religious schools of Judaism (showing that Zionism is essentially a political movement rather than a religious or secular one). Many Hasidic and Haredi groups, for example, are strongly anti-Zionist, and Hungarian scholar Joel Teitelbaum said that the current state of Israel, founded as it was by many anti-religious personalities, is contrary to Judaism because it is in violation of the religious notion that Jews should wait for the coming of their Messiah before returning to Israel. He also asserted that they should not return by force or rebel against surrounding nations.

There are hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world who take this stance. The orthodox Haredi movement of Neturei Karta, however, takes an even stronger position, insisting that Israel is a racist regime that promotes anti-Semitism and is contrary to Jewish laws, beliefs, and teachings. It also equates Zionism to Nazism, saying that, “apart from the Zionists, the only ones who consistently considered the Jews a race were the Nazis”. [14]

Zionism in Palestine before the Second World War

In the early 1900s, when the mostly Arab and Muslim Middle East was still controlled by the Ottoman Empire, the Zionists had already set their eyes on colonising the area their ancestors had lived in almost two thousand years before (mostly part of Ottoman Syria). When the First World War broke out, most Zionists were inclined to support Germany as a result of the persecution Jews had previously suffered inside the Russian Empire. Russian Jew Chaim Weizmann (who would later become Israel’s first President) lobbied the British government to support Zionists, saying it would have to do so if it wanted to ensure Jewish support for Great Britain and its allies in the war. Britain’s fear that American Jews might encourage the USA to support Germany led the government to write the Balfour Declaration in 1917endorsing the creation of Jewish homeland in the area it called Palestine. The document promised that Britain would facilitate the achievement of a Jewish state as long as the rights of ‘existing non-Jewish communities’ in the area were respected. After victory in the war, Britain gained control over the area and set up the British Mandate, soon allowing Zionist migration to begin.

The Labor Zionist movement was the strongest current of Zionism under the British Mandate, and was represented largely by the secular Histadrut, or General Federation of Jewish Labor, which was founded by Second Aliyah migrants in 1920 and soon taken over by David Ben-Gurion (who later became the first Prime Minister of Israel). Histadrut was formed when Hapoel Hatzair (a pacifist, Zionist, socialist group) and Ahdut HaAvoda (a militarist, Zionist, Marxist group led by Ben-Gurion) joined forces and, in 1930, their unity turned into the creation of the Mapai political party (which would be the dominant power in Israeli politics until the late 1960s).

It was fairly clear early on with most schools of Zionism that co-operation and co-existence with the Palestinians was not considered an option. In 1930, for example, Menahem Ussishkin of the Jewish National Fund insisted that Palestinians “must be transferred to some other place” and that the Jews “must take over the land”. Labor Zionist Ben-Gurion went even further, saying “it is impossible to imagine general evacuation without compulsion”, thus implying that forceful removal of Palestinian Arabs would be necessary. [15]

In spite of the ethnocentric nature of Labor Zionism, however, Histadrut helped to found “collective farms” (or Kibbutzim), along with “co-operatives in transportation and urban development, a worker’s bank, a country-wide health system, and other social and economic institutions”. The land they worked on became a “progressive commonwealth” (though only for Jews) that was praised in 1936 by Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Herbert Morrison, who said people were “working on a voluntary cooperative basis with no element of dictatorship or compulsion behind them, actually reclaiming soil hitherto unfertilized and untillable and making it productive”. Carried out “directly in association with and under the control of the great Jewish Trade Union organisation”, he said it was “one of the most elevating moral efforts in voluntary communism” he had ever seen. The Histadrut was convinced by less ethnocentric Zionists to “explore the idea of a binational Confederation of Palestine Labor” in 1926, but such unity never materialised. The HaShomer HaZair faction of the federation, however, continued to seek “a mutual accommodation between Arabs and Jews”, working “endlessly for class and political solidarity among the Jewish and Arab working classes”. Their tendency, however, would prove to be marginal.

Under the British Mandate, the Histadrut organised “a labor educational system and a special health service for workers and their families”, even taking over businesses and factories to deal with unemployment. With little work available in the early 1920s, “the Histadrut had to take initiative in creating work for its members and for those yet to come”. These projects were mostly pioneered by Polish and Russian Jews, and Middle Eastern Jews had little presence in the leadership of the movement. When German Zionists (Ashkenazi Jews) began to arrive, meanwhile, they tended to be a lot more “middle class in their outlook”, and found it harder to empathise with Histadrut’s projects. As a result, the Histadrut began to turn away from an “egalitarian wage policy”, supporting “financial incentives” to encourage new immigrants without “Zionist or socialist predispositions” to “give their best efforts”.

With an “urban boom”, workers entered into conflict with Histadrut leaders in the late 1920s, and many of the more revolutionary socialists “eventually renounced Zionism and made their way to the Soviet Union”. [16] While Jewish migrants had been making improvements to the land, and even embracing a form of socialist organisation (within their own communities), clashes inevitably occurred as Jews bought land from feudal landlords and left Palestinian peasants without land. Due to this landlessness, riots broke out in 1920, 1921, and 1929.

When German Jews were made stateless refugees by the Nuremberg Laws under Hitler in 1935, even more migrants came to Palestine. The added tension created by this increased migration was one of the reasons for the 1936 Palestinian strike and the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt. Upon investigating the unrest, the British Peel Commission called for the creation of two separate states for the Arabs and Jews, and the compulsory transfer of populations in order to segregate the two communities effectively. The Woodhead Commission examined this proposal, but concluded in 1938 that it was administratively and financially unfeasible. As a result, the 1939 White Paper saw Britain drop the two-state solution in favour of one independent Palestine governed by both Arabs and Jews. With the Holocaust beginning in Europe, however, the British plan to limit Jewish migration to Palestine could not have come at a worse time. Zionists now began to take it into their own hands to ensure the creation of a Jewish state, seeing Britain’s support of a one-state solution as unacceptable.

The Search for Support (from the West)

In 1938, Gandhi commented on the Palestinian situation, asserting that he sympathised with the Jews for the persecution they had suffered throughout the centuries and drawing a “parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus”. However, he asserted that the establishment of a Jewish national home (the Zionist objective) was a religious act and therefore ought to avoid the use of force, as orthodox Jews had previously stated. “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English”, he insisted, saying it was “wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs”, and even a “crime against humanity”. For him, it was wrong for the Zionist Jews to enter Palestine “under the shadow of the British gun”, and that they could only peacefully settle in Palestine by the goodwill of the Arabs” – by seeking to “convert the Arab heart”. [17]

Gandhi’s words were apparently of no interest, however, and Zionists failed to ‘convert the Arab heart’. In 1930, Muhammad Achtar, editor Palestine’s largest Arab newspaper, pointed out to a group of Jews that, instead of focussing on “propaganda to explain Zionism to the Western nations”, Zionists needed to “clarify Zionism to the Arabs”. He told them that there was not a “single leaflet in Arabic in which Zionists explain their needs, their rights, their claims”. Although they lived “among Arabs”, he said, “the Zionists did not care whether or not the Arabs understood”.

This lack of communication showed the Zionists’ general opposition to co-operation or co-existence with the Palestinian Arabs, and David Ben-Haroush (who arrived in Palestine from Morocco in 1947) pointed out that racial differentiation and discrimination did not only concern the Arabs. He explained how he the “Jewish Agency had allocated the better lodgings to European immigrants” and that “a North African is always down at the bottom of the list wherever he applies — whether in the development authority, the city administration, the welfare organization for the aged, or the Jewish Agency”. He continued, asserting that, after 1948, “housing, food, and employment… were [increasingly] secured through patronage and political connections”, which the European Ashkenazim had but “Orientals” did not. [16]

The Creation of a Jewish State

The efforts of the Jewish Agency for Palestine (led by Ben-Gurion in the 1930s and 40s) focussed, as Achtar said, on ensuring Western support rather than Arab support for Jewish presence in Palestine. This group dictated Zionist policy during this period, while US Zionists in particular used the American Palestine Committee to garner US support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The UK’s commitment to limiting Jewish migration to Palestine, meanwhile, had a positive effect on the Zionist cause after the horrors of the Holocaust became known. The USA, for example, viewed Britain’s prevention of mass migration to Palestine as a terrible policy. The Zionists capitalised on this support by pushing for the creation of a Jewish State at the UN.

The State of Israel was established on May 14th, 1948 after the UN’s partition plan for Palestine had been approved the previous year. European colonialism was beginning to come to an end, but there were still only 56 member states of the UN (today there are 193). The vote in favour of the partition plan narrowly attained the two-thirds majority it needed, and was said to have been influenced by a significant amount of money. The UK abstained from the vote, and decided not to enforce the partition plan. Arab leaders in the region, meanwhile, actively opposed the division of Palestine, seeing it as continued “European colonial theft”. Today, there is “no internationally recognized line between Israel and Palestine” as a result, because countries in the region never agreed to the UN partition plan, because a Palestinian state was never created, and because Israel subsequently took over land that was destined for a Palestinian state. The borders have thus been disputed for decades. [12]

Tension between Arab Nations and Israel

Israel’s neighbours invaded in 1948, but lost. Israel subsequently “pushed well beyond the UN-designated borders”, claiming land that “was to have been part of Palestine” and taking the “western half of Jerusalem”. Palestinian communities, meanwhile, were “uprooted and expelled”, and around 700,000 refugees soon fled to Gaza and the West Bank. This war created a great hostility between Israel and Arab nations, which continued for the rest of the Cold War. Little after the mass extermination of Jews by the Nazis, many Jews in Israel felt they “were fighting for their lives and for their freedom”, and thus supported Israel’s heavy-handed behaviour. [18]

After Israel’s creation, the Histadrut’s left-wing policies would be upstaged to a certain extent by the nationalist focus of Zionism. It soon “abandoned its vision of a socialist economy”, and became gradually more individualistic. [16] The Labor Zionists who were in government between 1948 and 1977 took a hard line to any aggression towards Israel, and were involved in numerous wars in the region whilst in power. The reason for Israel’s militarism can be explained by Ben-Gurion, who had previously affirmed that, “when we become a strong power, we will abolish partition and spread throughout Palestine”. He also made it clear that “we are the aggressors and they defend themselves”, saying “we have taken their country”. [13] Through these words, he showed the commitment of even Labor Zionists to taking control of as much of the desired territory in Palestine as possible.

In the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel expelled Egyptian and Jordanian forces from Gaza and the West Bank respectively, subsequently putting them under military occupation. Prime Minister Menachem Begin would later say that Israel “had a choice” in the conflict, as there was no proof “that Nasser [or the Egyptian army] was really about to attack us”. Clarifying the reason for the war, he said “we decided to attack him [Nasser]”.

When we consider that Nasser had refused to ally himself with the West in the Cold War, and had nationalised the Suez Canal Company in 1956 after Western hostility, we can see why the West would not condemn Israel for its attack on Egypt in 1967. Though he had certain authoritarian tendencies, he was popular, and had introduced certain socialist measures, liberalised the political system, and become a prominent player in the Non-Aligned Movement (which he had co-founded). Having failed to defeat Nasser themselves, Western nations clearly saw Israel as the perfect proxy for checking Nasser’s power and ensuring Western interests in the region. Nasser’s support for national self-determination was seen as a threat to capitalist elites in the West, and Israel was the only force whose co-operation could really be counted on.

Having been founded by Arab states in 1964, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) also presented a new risk to Israel – and therefore to the West. In 1969, it “adopted a one-state solution as its aim”, clarifying that “it was not fighting against Jews, but against Israel as a racist and theocratic entity”. Realising that Israel, aspiring to maintain a Jewish-majority state, could never be truly free and democratic, the PLO sought to “establish a free and democratic society in Palestine for all Palestinians whether they are Muslims, Christians or Jews”. [19] Zionists knew, however, that “Arabs would very soon outnumber Jews” if such a solution was adopted (and that is precisely why they pushed through with the unpopular partition plan of 1947). Once Israel was formed, Zionists could never “willingly become a minority” among a population to whom they had shown so much hostility. [12] Only as the PLO later sought to “compromise with US-inspired peace processes” did it move towards a more viable two-state solution (which would equally seem very unlikely after 1967 with increasing Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories). [19]

Israeli Politics after 1967

Israel continued to invite people of Jewish origin from around the world to come and settle in ‘their territory’, but an aggressive form of religious nationalism was beginning to grow in the country, and many people with this ideology began to settle in Gaza and the West Bank as a result (in an attempt to gradually push the Palestinian population out of these areas). By 1973, the social hierarchies and ethnic divisions in Israeli society had led Professor Ya’akov Talmon to speak of the “social and moral failure of Zionism. He saw an “inescapable process” of division between a “dominant” and “dominated” people, which he called a “monstrosity”.

A “vulgar consumptionist” society had grown in a post-1967 boom, and the “well-publicized egalitarian achievements” of early Labor Zionism “were becoming eroded”. Around “70,000 families remained below the poverty line”, and it was “the Labor government itself that appeared to be expropriating public funds for the enrichment of the few”. The government had tried to attract private capital in the 1960s with a “policy of favouritism” and “low-interest loans”, which inevitably led to “greater social differentiation”. The “well-connected Ashkenazim”, meanwhile, pushed through to the higher echelons of society, as the “lowest stratum was almost exclusively made up of immigrants from Moslem countries and their descendants”. At the same time, “few of the top Labor officials could resist the temptation to live well on either party or government funds”. Although Labor Zionism would continue to dominate Zionist politics for another ten years, the Labor Party itself would eventually lose in the 1977 elections.

A “considerable bureaucracy” had also grown to administer the services and interests of the Histadrut, which was now “Israel’s largest employer, as well an all-embracing trade union organization”. In theory, this meant that “every member had a say in the management of Histadrut-owned enterprises” but, in reality, “as membership increased and economic activities multiplied, this right to share in decision-making became a dead letter”, finding opposition from a management “which jealously guarded its prerogatives”. [16]

In 1977, Labor Zionists lost power, and would only enter government again for a total of 8 years between that year and 2014. Religious Zionism, Nationalist Zionism, and Neo-Zionism gradually came to dominate Israeli politics, and their support for illegal Israeli settlements in occupied territories and hard-line responses to Arab resistance became the political norm. Likud, the party of current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, emerged as the main political party on the right-wing, and has governed for a total of 26 years since 1977.

The First Intifada

By late 1987, tensions had reached boiling point, and Palestinians finally stood up to Israel’s extrajudicial killings, mass detentions, house demolitions, forced migrations, relocations, and deportations. On top of the daily intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation of Palestinians, rapidly increasing Jewish settlement meant that less land was available for agriculture and industry. Together with high birth rates, this led to a growing population density and a rising number of unemployed Palestinians.

All of these factors resulted in the First Intifada, in which a united front of Palestinians peacefully resisted Israeli occupation by refusing to pay taxes, boycotting Israeli civil administration institutions, disobeying army orders, refusing to work in Israeli settlements on Israeli products, and initiating general strikes. There was initially a collective commitment to abstain from lethal violence, which even extremist religious groups abided by. Protesters demanded the complete withdrawal of Israel from the territories it had occupied in 1967; the lifting of curfews and checkpoints; and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (calls for the liberation of the whole of Palestine had been abandoned).

Tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers were deployed and, in the first 13 months, 332 Palestinians (mostly civilians) were killed. More radical groups soon began to use increasingly violent means in response, but after six years of fighting, only 100 Israeli citizens had been killed. The Intifada led to the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, in which the Israeli government and the PLO signed their first face-to-face agreement, but at the cost of around 1200 Palestinian lives. The Accords were the most hopeful things had looked since the creation of Israel in 1948, but their failure to result in a lasting solution to the conflict left many disenchanted with the “peace process”. A Palestinian state was still not established, and Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories continued to grow. In summary, nothing had really changed.

Hamas and ‘Political Islam’

One of the violent resistance groups was Hamas, a fundamentalist Muslim group linked to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood which had been formed at the beginning of the First Intifada. In previous decades, Israel had “tolerated… Gaza’s Islamists… and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists” of the PLO or Fatah. These actions echoed those of the USA which, “during the Cold War, looked to Islamists as a useful ally against communism” and Arab nationalism. [20] As “independent Arab states in the Middle East” (which were “relatively economically successful”, opposed to imperialist interference, and supporters of “Russian inspired nationalisation”) had been established in the 1950s and 1960s, the West looked to counter their influence in any way possible. By supporting Israeli wars in the region, it managed to weaken these governments, and eventually convinced them to embrace neoliberalism (and the corrupt institutions that came with it).

With the Iranian Revolution of 1979, “Political Islambegan to “displace Arab nationalism as a vehicle for anti-imperialist sentiment”. Hezbollah gained prominence in Lebanon and, a decade later, Hamas did the same in Gaza. Having previously funded movements like these as a counterweight to secular communist groups, the West (and the USA in particular) was now seeing the consequences. Just as Arab nationalist movements were becoming “illegitimate”, Political Islam began to show its “relative willingness to fight imperialism”. The movements that had previously been fostered by the West were now turning hostile to Western interference in the region. The “moderate political forces” of Political Islam were being replaced by more violent movements (of which Al Qaeda or ISIS would be extreme examples). [19]

Hamas, having witnessed the carnage of the First Intifada and the way in which it led to little significant change, committed itself to resisting Israeli occupation by any means necessary. In the Second Intifada, between 2000 and 2005, 5500 Palestinians were killed, along with 1100 Israelis. The violence came as a wake-up call for Israel, which had shown itself to be uncommitted to the Oslo Accords. Around forty percent of the suicide bombings that hit Israeli ‘targets’ during this period had been carried out by Hamas’s military branch.

Israeli Sanctions against Gaza

As a result of the Second Intifada, Israeli settlements in Gaza were finally evacuated in 2005, with the support of Likud leader Ariel Sharon. Many Israeli citizens, however, had become “less supportive of peace efforts”, and “more willing to accept or simply ignore the occupation’s effects on Palestinians”. This position was “further enabled” by the fact that the Iron Dome system “insulated many Israelis from the conflict and makes it easier to ignore”. The right wing of Likud played on these sentiments and tried to block Sharon’s efforts to disengage in Gaza, while “right-wing Israeli extremists” became “increasingly violent”, particularly in the illegal West Bank settlements. [12]

Sharon felt forced to leave Likud as a result, and he formed the Kadima party in order to get his disengagement plan passed. Hamas’s popularity, meanwhile, was growing, especially as their violence had apparently been successful in pushing Israeli forces out of Gaza. The party had also picked up on Fatah’s failure to ensure real progress against Israeli occupation, and it subsequently managed to win a majority in the 2006 legislative elections in Palestine. Before the election campaign, it had omitted its call for an end to the State of Israel, but still called for armed struggle against the occupation. Israel, meanwhile, under Kadima’s Ehud Olmert, immediately launched economic sanctions against the Palestinian National Authority after Hamas’s electoral triumph.

In 2007, a poll of Palestinians showed that 70% supported a one-state solution with peaceful coexistence between all ethnic and religious groups, demonstrating that a two-state solution was becoming less and less likely as a result of continued West Bank settlement and hostility towards Gaza. [19] In the same year, there was also intense fighting between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza (allegedly spurred on by Israel), and the two groups would only reach a reconciliation agreement in June 2014. Israeli sanctions had forced Hamas to take control of Gaza by force, and Israel imposed a land, air, and sea blockade on the area as a result. According to many human rights organisations, Gaza soon became an “open-air prison” and, for many Palestinians, Hamas’s violent resistance to the Israeli siege was seen as part of their continuing war of independence. [12] Hamas therefore managed to gain support, even from those who opposed its “fundamentalist ideology, political oppression or other aspects of its rule”. [18]

Israel’s blockade, by strangling economic life in Gaza, punishing its civilians, and creating a sense of “hopelessness and distrust in Israel”, has nurtured a “climate that is hospitable to extremism”, along with a belief that resistance, however suicidal it may be, is the only hope for liberation. The failure of Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, who have “emphasized peace and compromise and negotiations” (but have been “rewarded with an Israeli military occupation” and “ever-expanding settlements”), has also contributed to the view that “violent “resistance” is preferable”. [12] In resistance to the Israeli blockade, Hamas and other resistance groups in Gaza fired rockets into Israel throughout Olmert’s time as Prime Minister. In the middle of 2008, the Israeli leader was faced by corruption and bribery allegations (for which he would later face 6 years in prison), and decided to resign.

The Return of Netanyahu

Olmert’s resignation allowed the hard-line nationalist Benjamin Netanyahu once again to become Prime Minister in 2009, reducing significantly the possibility of a peaceful agreement with Palestinians. Illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank continued to grow with the complicity and support of Netanyahu’s nationalist government, and the blockade on Gaza continued. Some settlers, driven by Neo-Zionist or nationalist fervour, moved “deep into the West Bank to claim land for Jews”, in the hope that “more or all of the West Bank” would eventually be “absorbed into Israel”. The Israeli government, whilst occasionally evicting illegal settlers, guards others “with walls or soldiers that further constrain Palestinians”. As “facts on the ground”, the expanding settlements “blur the borders” and make it harder and harder for a two-state solution (based on the 1967 borders) to be reached.

The aforementioned settlement expansion was one of the main reasons why the Obama-initiated peace negotiations came to a halt – as the key issue for a negotiated solution to the ‘Palestinian Question’ consists of “Israel’s withdrawal from the territory it seized in the 1967 war”, along with “the formation of an independent Palestinian state”. [19] Furthermore, “Israeli checkpoints”, “20-foot-walls”, “an Israeli military justice system in which on average two children are arrested every day”, and “an economy stifled by strict Israeli border control” have all made life more difficult for Palestinians, making direct resistance look more and more attractive. [12]

In the 2008-9 and 2012 Israeli ‘operations’ in Gaza, which were officially aimed at stopping Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israel, around 1,000 Palestinian civilians were killed, and support for Hamas was bolstered even more. Himself emboldened by re-election in 2013, however, Netanyahu has once again tried the same technique that failed in the previous invasions of Gaza. After the failure of the Obama-led negotiations, there was “violent Israeli opposition to the emergence of the Fatah-Hamas unity government”, and Israel failed to comply with its obligation to release Palestinian prisoners. [19] On May 15th, two Palestinian teenagers (who were protesting in the West Bank against Israeli mistreatment of political prisoners) were shot dead by live IDF fire in the Beitunia killings.

In possible retaliation for the events described above, three Israeli youths were murdered in the West Bank in June, and Israel arrested “large numbers of Hamas personnel” as a result, without any legal cause. [12] A day after the burial of the teenagers, “far right Israeli extremists” kidnapped a 16-year-old Palestinian boy in East Jerusalem and “burnt him alive”. [19] Protests broke out, and “Israeli security forces cracked down on protests”. Rockets from certain Palestinian resistance groups (unconnected with Hamas), meanwhile, kept flying into Israel from Gaza, and Netanyahu’s government ordered the murder of five Hamas members in Gaza on the 7th of July. This action provoked the firing of the first Hamas rockets in nineteen months. In response, Netanyahu exploited the popular anger in Israel over the teenagers’ deaths and responded with ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in Gaza on July 8th. On July 17th, he sent ground forces into Gaza, supposedly in order to destroy tunnels that could be used to cross into Israel. [12]

Along with Netanyahu’s fondness of militarism, his consistent rejection of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders shows both his “poor statesmanship” and “antiquated military philosophy”. [21] In Operation Protective Edge, for example, Israel’s “disproportionate military strength and its willingness to target militants based in dense urban communities means that Palestinians civilians” have been killed more than any other group. [12] All of these actions have proven that, under Netanyahu’s nationalists and Neo-Zionists at least, there is, as Palestinian spokespeople often say, “no partner for peace in Israel”. [22]

3) Real Reasons Behind the Current Conflict

If we delve into the ‘Palestinian Question’ in greater depth, we see that analysts focus primarily on the issue of land, as that is the Zionist aim. However, there are also clear reasons why Western powers support Israel regardless of the numerous crimes it commits. One of these motives is the fact that capitalist supporters of Israel plough money into politics in the West, partly because Israel is a key part of the geopolitical strategies and interests of capitalist elites in the Middle East. Israeli violence towards Palestinians, meanwhile, seems to be a result of the inbuilt racism, dehumanisation of Palestinians, and the rise of radical nationalism in the country, especially in the last decade or so.

In response to the most recent Israeli invasion of Gaza, the leaders of the capitalist world have (predictably) rushed once again to the aid of the Israeli propaganda machine, emphasising its ‘right to defend itself’ (with no mention of Palestinians’ own right to defend themselves from Israeli aggression and occupation). Hypocritically, representatives of the US government like John Kerry speak about “civilian safety”, whilst at the same time giving ‘aid’ and weapons to Israel. Germany’s Angela Merkel and the UK’s David Cameron, meanwhile, have followed the US line, as have other government officials in Europe and the ‘developed world’. Cameron, for example, spoke of his government’s “’staunch support’ for Israel” even as Palestinian civilians were being killed. [23]

President Obama himself has described civilian deaths in Gaza as ‘heartbreaking’, “as if he’s just a bystander, watching it all unfold”, says Brooklyn College Professor Corey Robin. He has spoken “as if it were a natural disaster, an uncontrollable biological event”, as opposed to something that the USA could have an incredibly important part in stopping. As it “feeds Israel the weapons it uses”, “defends its aggression both publicly and at the U.N.”, and “enacts one resolution after the next to support and enable Israel”, the American media pretends “that the Israeli attack has nothing to do with their country”. The fact is, however, that it has everything to do with their country. Israel’s wars would simply “be impossible without the constant, lavish support and protection of the U.S. government”. The USA is not a “neutral, peace-brokering party”, but an enabler of Israel’s war crimes. [24]

The Israeli Lobby in the USA

The figures speak for themselves. Israel’s GDP per capita is $38,700 (more than Japan), while Gaza’s is less than $2,000, but the US annually provides Israel with $3.6 billion in military aid ($10 million every day). In early August 2014, in full sight of the civilian deaths in Gaza, the country’s Congress and Senate, which are usually very ineffective at passing legislation, agreed almost unanimously to “give Israel $225 million in emergency military aid”. Only 8 congressmen dissented. [25] While Hamas resists Israeli aggression with “unguided rockets [that] typically cost a few hundred dollars a piece”, each missile of Israel’s Iron Dome “costs Israel up to $90,000”. [24]

In the USA, politicians do their utmost to please “military contractors who bring much-needed jobs”, and opposing military support for Israel would therefore harm their cause. Tariq Ali asks why the US political establishment is so loyal to Israel, and finds a clue in the fact that Professors Walt and Mearsheimer, who wrote an article on the Israel Lobby in 2006, received “violent threats and hate mail” as a result. Michael Massing, in an analysis of their essay, explains how the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) exploits “the organizing opportunities available in democratic America” to gain a “formidable network of supporters” and a “$47 million annual budget”. As it is not a PAC (political action committee), the AIPAC assesses “voting records and public statements”, “provides information” to PACs, “helps them to decide who Israel’s friends are”, and then leaves it to these PACs to “donate money to candidates”. In the 2004 election cycle, Massing said, “thirty-six pro-Israel PACs… contributed $3.14 million to candidates”. Simply by expressing “strong sympathies with Israel” and promising to “vote AIPAC’s way”, candidates can get endorsement from pro-Israeli donors, after being introduced to them by AIPAC. And it is the very structure of money-fuelled politics in the USA that plays directly into the hands of this kind of corrupt behaviour.

In France, meanwhile, “the grip of the Israel Lobby… is complete”, dominating the media and ensuring “critical voices on Israel (Jewish and non-Jewish) are effectively banned”. When citizens defied a ban on marches in mid-July, “several thousand people were drenched in tear gas by the hated CRS [riot police]”, with the justification of “not encouraging anti-Semitism”. Israeli poet and critic Yitzhak Laor says this type of “philosemitic offensive” could be seen as part of a “belated crisis of international conscience, or a sense of historical justice that took time to materialize”. But, if this is the case, he asserts, there is “no reason for the commemoration of the genocide of the Jews to block out the memory of [the] millions of Africans or Native Americans killed by the civilized Western invaders of their continents”. In the post-Cold War world, Laor says, this has not been the case. Instead, there has been a desire to assert “the new Europe’s liberal-humanist tolerance of ‘the other (who is like us)’” whilst redefining “‘the other (who is different from us)’ in terms of Muslim fundamentalism”.

French views are not the result of a natural process, however. After the 1967 war, President “de Gaulle condemned the aggression…, alarmed that Israel was upsetting the balance of power in the Middle East”. Zionist organisations in the country responded by organising “on a political basis for the first time”. The Jewish Action Committee (CJA), for example, mobilised 100,000 people in 1976 against the French arms embargo on Israel, and the CRIF (a “representative council of some sixty Jewish bodies”) “produced a new charter denouncing France’s ‘abandonment of Israel’” the following year. The 1981 presidential election saw François Mitterrand win by a small margin with the help of a “high-profile campaign for a Jewish vote against” his opponent, incumbent president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. “The boycott was lifted”, and Mitterrand “became the first French president to visit Israel”, cementing “warm relations… between the CRIF and the Socialist Party elite” as a result. In spite of official complicity in Israel’s actions ever since, however, “at least 60 percent of French people are opposed to what Israel is doing to Gaza”, according to opinion polls.

Ali continues by taking a look at Britain, where BBC coverage of the recent assault on Gaza was considered “so appallingly one-sided that there were demonstrations outside the BBC’s offices in London and Salford”. He speaks of his experience of “fear and timidity” at the BBC. When, for example, he was invited to speak about Gaza, he told the BBC he would say that “Israel was a rogue state, pampered and cosseted by the US and its vassals”, that “targeting and killing Palestinian children… and blaming the victims was an old Israeli custom”, and that “the BBC coverage of Palestine was appalling”. His item was subsequently dropped. He deduces that this shows official British protection of Israel seems to be institutionalised, partially as a result of the fact that Britain itself, “by design”, had a significant hand in creating the Israeli state.

To further his suggestion about Britain’s intentions in Israel, Ali refers to a quote released by the Alternate Information Center in Beit Sahour (which is a “joint Palestinian-Israeli organization promoting justice, equality and peace”). This quote came from the 1907 Bannerman Report, which was written by the Prime Minister of the time and hidden until many years later, partly because of its effective summary of the real issue at play behind the creation of a “friendly state” in the Middle East. The Arabs, the report suggested, “control spacious territories teeming with manifest and hidden resources”, dominating “the intersections of world routes”. It continued, saying that “no natural barriers” could “isolate these people from one another”. If a unified Arab state could ever be formed, it asserted, this state “would then take the fate of the world into its hands and would separate Europe from the rest of the world”. The recommendation to stop this from happening was for “a foreign body [to] be planted in the heart of this nation to prevent the convergence of its wings” in order to “exhaust its powers in never-ending wars”. Perhaps more tellingly, however, the report emphasised that this “foreign body” could be used as a “springboard for the West to gain its coveted objects”. [26]

Israel Needs a Divided and Discredited Palestinian Opposition

In spite of the obviously unbalanced nature of the attack on Gaza, the death of two thousand Palestinians (and 67 Israelis) is “still presented, grotesquely, as a war of Israeli self-defence”. Few journalists or politicians focus on the fact that it is part of a “decades-long confrontation between occupier and occupied, in which western governments stand resolutely on the side of the occupier”. And, although the “overwhelming majority of Palestinian dead are civilians” and “64 of the Israeli dead are soldiers”, only Hamas are branded terrorists, “rather than the Israeli armed forces [which are] armed with the most sophisticated targeting technology in the world”. [27]

Ella David at the New Internationalist says that “it would be folly to look at the militant response in isolation without understanding the context of 66 years of Israeli aggression”. The current offensive, she affirms, shows that Israel’s “rogue government” is committed to destroying “any chance for a unity government between the West Bank’s Fatah-run Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Hamas leadership in Gaza”. Emphasising that Gaza is “one of the most densely populated areas in the world”, where hospitals have no supplies and where there are “no sirens to warn people of bombs, no air raid shelters or safe rooms”, she asserts that “de-development” is taking place in the territory. “The occupying power’s bombardment of a trapped population”, she insists, “constitutes a war crime”.

Regarding the entirely disproportionate nature of the conflict, David quotes Norman Finkelstein, who said “Gaza has no army, air force or navy. Israel is the fourth largest military power in the world. Resistance to occupation is allowed under international law. Israel’s occupation, siege and collective punishment of Gaza is not”. Israel attempts to ‘punish Palestinians into submission’, she affirms, and has done so since the “bloody creation of the state in 1948”. In the West Bank, “resistance is silenced with jail terms, house demolitions and land grabs” while, in Gaza, “the rockets fired in symbolic protest by militant wings of parties such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad” are met with a “collective punishment on a genocidal scale”. War is not the only time when Palestinians are oppressed, she insists, saying that “’normality’ for Gazans is ghetto life” and that, for West Bank inhabitants, it is “ethnic cleansing and colonization”.

The world ‘should not denounce Palestinian resistance’, according to David. In all its forms, it is a manifestation of “any oppressed people’s right to shout to the world, ‘we’re still here’ and to demand justice and change”. And that is what Palestinian resistance is. Whether we support violent resistance or not, the fact is that it is a cry of desperation which, if left unaddressed (in the form of not granting Palestinians freedom and justice), will simply continue to get stronger and louder. The world, she insists, must see that Israel’s attacks on Gaza are attempts to violently subdue its population “into compliance with [its] quest to carry on as it pleases”. [28]

Making it Impossible for Palestinian Society to Sustain Itself

According to political writer Matt Carr, mainstream journalists have simply failed to analyse the “broader strategic logic of Israeli violence”. Carr believes that “the idea that Israel has attacked Gaza’s fishermen, wheatmills, power and sewage plants, hospitals, mosques and schools simply in order to protect itself from Palestinian rockets is not really credible”. He says the assault on Gaza is simply a “deeply-embedded [tradition] in Israeli military practice” – one of “massive retaliation… aimed not just at the armed combatants responsible but at the populations that support or merely tolerate their presence”. This strategy, he insists, is based on the “counterintuitive assumption” that civilians will eventually turn their anger against the armed groups Israel is fighting against. Referring to an article by Greg Shupak, he affirms that targeting infrastructure in Gaza “is ultimately intended to make it impossible for Palestinian society in Gaza to sustain itself”.

This tactic, he affirms, has been used in previous colonialist adventures, like when the USA sent Generals Sherman and Sheridan to deal with resisting indigenous populations after the end of the American Civil War. Just like Zionists did with Palestinians in 1948 and afterwards, US troops attacked and isolated indigenous tribes in North America who obstructed settlement or refused to go to reservations, all in an attempt to “starve them into submission”. The strategy was clear, with Sheridan asserting that “an army losing its base of supplies is placed at a great disadvantage”. In the USA, the mass “hunting of buffalo herds by white hunters” was what caused indigenous forces to ‘lose their base of supplies’. In Gaza, the colonial strategy is not only to make it almost impossible for civilians to eat, but to make it almost impossible to do just about anything.

The existence of Palestinians has always been a problem for the creation of a ‘Jewish State’ in Palestine, though the placing of Palestinians in the ‘reservations’ of Gaza and the West Bank has clearly helped to temporarily “render their inhabitants powerless and completely subservient to and dependent on Israel”. However, in the long run, this is not an outcome acceptable to the Palestinian people. As a result, they have stood up to Israel, forcing the state to adopt a new policy of destroying “all the essential instruments and institutions necessary for the long-term survival and autonomy of a modern society – and a Palestinian state”. [29]

Greg Shupak also believes that describing Israel’s violence in Gaza as “aimless” distracts people from understanding the “underlying logic of Israel’s conduct”. Since its 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, he says, Israel has engaged in an “experiment in colonial management in the Gaza Strip”, isolating its people and exerting an indirect control over their lives. Suppressing Palestinian resistance is key to “the success of the Israeli experiment”, he insists. At the same time, there is a strong “relationship between American imperialism and Zionist policies”, with an “alliance with Israel” helping the US to “control the Middle East”. The instability that Israeli colonialism and occupation causes in the region is crucial, according to Bashir Abu-Manneh, in creating “contexts for further US interventions in the region” that help to ensure “American hegemony” there.

The main aim of US-backed Israeli actions is Zionist “supremacy in Palestine” – and that means “keeping Palestinians in a state of powerlessness” and stamping out signs of Palestinian independence”. In order to “secure for Israel “as much land as possible, [and] as few Palestinians as possible””, the first tactic is to deny refugees their “right of return”. The second, Shupak affirms, is to create “conditions inhospitable to the autonomous existence of Palestinians”.

The attacks on Gazan infrastructure, he says, have been part of the plan to sabotage Palestinians’ “ability to live autonomously”. The attacks on fishing boats, agricultural sites, mills, and animals are all parts of the “long-running deliberate destruction and de-development of the Gaza Strip’s economy”. Attacks on medical, educational, residential, and religious buildings, along with attacks on journalists, are also a part of this strategy. If “those of us who are citizens of states that help Israel do all of this” are appalled, as we rightly should be, we “need to compel our governments to stop”, Shupak insists. [30]

The USA Empathises with Israel

US educator and community activist Solomon Comissiong also follows Carr’s line, affirming that the USA is “ultimately a white settler nation” just like Israel, and for that reason it can empathise so much with the Zionist state. Apart from being an “Apartheid state”, he says, Israel is “viciously racist towards many of the black Africans who reside within its manufactured borders”. Within the occupied Palestinian territories (into which many indigenous Palestinians were forced in 1948), civilians are “treated like animals and have little ability to control their own destinies” – starved as they are of control over electricity, water, and other essential resources. “Death”, Commissiong asserts, “takes no vacations during Apartheid”. In Gaza in particular, “people lose their lives simply because they have little to no access to basic medical treatments”.

Israel’s allies, he insists, are “morally corrupt”. Afraid of the Israeli lobby (like the AIPAC), “gutless politicians [in the USA and elsewhere] lack the backbone and moral integrity to speak out against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians”, he says. “It is no coincidence”, he claims, “that both Israel and the US supported the white minority regime in South Africa”. The “quagmire of misinformation, false propaganda and injustice” in the USA is what stops more Americans from taking to the streets, he affirms. The USA, throughout “its rich history of barbaric treatment levied upon communities of color within its own manufactured borders” has pushed indigenous communities onto reservations and suppressed the rights of African-Americans on countless occasions. The lack of popular mobilisation and protests, that had a powerful impact on Apartheid in South Africa, is precisely what allows the USA to continue supporting Israel. [31]

Land Grabbing for Natural Resources

Yet another factor which is an element of Israel’s attempts to control as much Palestinian territory as possible is its desire to “appropriate and profit from Gaza’s natural gas resources”. In the year 2000, British Gas discovered “$4 billion worth of natural gas reserves off the coast of Gaza”, and more has been found since. These resources could potentially “make Palestine as rich as Kuwait”, according to Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky. This assumption helps to explain why, since this discovery, “Israel has strengthened its maritime blockade on Gaza”, especially when we consider that “Israel’s energy crisis has deepened” in recent years. After 2006, the Zionist state was particularly concerned about ensuring that gas revenue didn’t go to Hamas, as it was more hostile to Israel than Fatah was. The growing frequency of Israeli operations against Hamas, therefore, has been part of Israel’s search for “a more subservient entity” in Gaza.

Another part of this strategy has been to strengthen Fatah, which Israel considers to be a more docile entity than Hamas, according to Wikileaks cables from December 2010. Israel even gave “light weapons and ammunition” to Fatah forces in Gaza after Hamas’s electoral victory in 2006. Operation Protective Edge, coming as it did after the reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah, is simply a sign that, after its failed attempts to make Fatah subservient to Israeli interests, the Zionist state is worried about increasing unity and independence in the occupied territories. [32]

Dr Arif Azad echoes these comments, emphasising the role energy has to play in Israel’s offensive on Gaza. Destroying Hamas, Azad says, is simply “a ploy to incrementally advance Israeli long term strategic purposes” – which include “methodically… annihilating the remaining signs of Palestinian cultural life and the… infrastructure… [that was] painstakingly rebuilt after… the invasion in 2008”. The “strangulating [of] the mass of crammed Palestinians within the Gaza Strip to a slow death” is, in part, done in the hope of controlling “the underground water reservoirs and hydrocarbons deposits in the coastal area of Gaza”. The recent invasion, therefore, is simply part of Israel’s “broader project of land grabbing”, according to Azad. While settlers are part of achieving this Zionist goal in the West Bank, “semi or full reoccupation of the Gaza Strip” is necessary to move forward in the west.

Israeli historian Uri Avnery also suggests that the destruction of Gaza will allow Israel to ‘re-station its troops near the Jordanian border’. Officially, this move would be aimed at protecting Israel’s eastern border from groups like ISIS but, in reality, Israel could easily destroy any approaching threat with aerial bombardment. Moving to the Jordanian border would instead aim to cut the West Bank off from other nations, turning Palestinian areas there into “isolated enclaves” within the “greater Israel”. [33]

Robert Fisk also relates Israel’s invasion of Gaza to the issue of land. For him, we must never forget how so many Palestinians came to be “crammed into Gaza in the first place”. In the town of Huj, now called Sederot, the inhabitants were Arabs before 1948, but Israelis afterwards. The Arab villagers were violently expelled, fleeing as refugees into Gaza, and 6,000 of their descendants now live in the blockaded territory. Even Ben-Gurion called this an “unjust and unjustified action”, though he did nothing to reverse it.

Israel occupied Palestinian land and, in many cases, this was done violently. When Israelis talk about their “right to self-defence”, they ask what other countries would do if rockets were fired at them, whilst failing to emphasise the fact that these other countries have not forced over a million former inhabitants into a tiny, prison-like refugee camp. Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev has tried to compare Hamas to ISIS to discredit them, but Fisk asserts that they are not the same thing. Hezbollah, for example, which is an ally of Hamas, is in fact currently “fighting to the death inside Syria” against ISIS. The current conflict, therefore, is not about Hamas, he says, but about land. [34]

The Western media consistently underplays “the plight and death of Palestinians”, emphasising instead the slightest of Israeli suffering. Palestinians are “routinely murdered”, but there is little or no outrage. [35] Their constant degradation, desperation, and oppression are not covered in the media but, as soon as economy rockets are fired into Israel, there is suddenly cause for alarm. With the majority of the mainstream media in the hands of a few multi-millionaire oligarchs, who have an interest in ensuring the world’s natural resources are not at the disposal of ordinary civilians, there is a more sinister motive behind the West’s general complicity with Israeli war crimes.

If we look at the words of some Israeli politicians, we can see very clearly what the real issues are behind their attacks on Palestinian civilians. Current Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon, for example, has recently focussed primarily on “a protracted assault on Hamas” but, to understand why this assault is important for Israeli politics, we can look back to his words in 2007. Evidently worried about the “1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas discovered in 2000 off the Gaza coast”, he said profits would “likely serve to fund further terror attacks against Israel” – a comment that could be translated into English as fear of ‘Palestinian self-determination, economic success, or incompliance with Israeli interests’. “Without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza”, he affirmed, “no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement”. With Israel in need of ‘diversifying its supply sources’ amidst record highs in electricity prices, the country’s aim was clearly to “generate a “political climate” conducive to a gas deal”. In order to do so, it would have to rehabilitate “the defeated Fatah as the dominant political player in the West Bank”, and exploit “political tensions between the two parties”. With this in mind, we can see all too well how June’s unity agreement between the parties would make Israeli politicians worried.

Fatah had previously “held several meetings with the British Gas Group to develop the Gaza gas field”, but had tried to “exclude Hamas… from access to the proceeds”. The Palestinian Authority, however, knew all too well that it could not “exert control over Gaza” as long as it was on negative terms with the governing Hamas party, which continued to be “the main obstacle to the finalisation of the gas deal”. In its continued aim to ‘separate Palestinians from their land and natural resources’ and ‘block Palestinian economic development’, as it already does in the West Bank, Israel desperately needs to get rid of Hamas – and that means getting rid also of the civilians who support it.

After Operation Cast Lead, the Jerusalem-based Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (Pcati) noted that “the IDF had adopted a more aggressive combat doctrine”, based on “zero casualties” for IDF soldiers “at the cost of deploying increasingly indiscriminate firepower in densely populated areas”, and the “targeting of civilian infrastructure to create widespread suffering”. Their “deliberate policy of disproportionate force”, said a UN fact-finding mission, had led to the destruction of “supporting infrastructure”, by which we should understand “the civilian population”. The current assault, therefore, may be about Hamas to a certain extent, but not in the way Israel wants us to think. The simple fact is that Hamas is an obstacle to Israeli domination, and it threatens to achieve self-determination for Gazans, over their lives and over their natural resources. [36]

Dehumanising Arabs Allows Israel to Justify Their Extermination

Uruguayan political writer Raúl Zibechi argues, using comments from several sources, that the Israeli aim is not to fight against Hamas, but against Arab civilians. Israel’s recent attack on Gaza, he says, is a “political calculation to block changes in the region”. In order to “prevent the reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah”, which would further the cause of Palestinian self-determination, “the Israeli leaders don’t hesitate in perpetrating massacres each time they consider it appropriate”. Through these actions, 90-year-old Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery says, they reveal a “clearly fascist” style, and show that their country is simply “an army that has a state”. [37] Avnery, having witnessed first-hand the creation of Israel and the bloodshed that has followed, believes firmly that, “in order to put an end to a war, you must talk with your enemy, look him in the eye, try to understand him, and come up with a solution”. He insists that “you cannot ignore Hamas”, and that it is “not a militia” or “a military organization”, but “a Palestinian political party” which was forced to take power in Gaza by force after being undermined by Israel and its allies. “Hamas is an ideology”, he says, and for that reason it can’t be killed with violence. [38]

Spanish philosopher Santiago Alba Rico, says Zibechi, affirms that there were “several events [which] marked the history” of the post-Second World War world, but the key event was the “rejection of the abominable “Auschwitz Model”” in the Nuremberg Trials. The “horizontal extermination and dehumanisation of the other” was to be considered unacceptable. The “Hiroshima Model”, however, which had become popular after the First World War (and was used deftly by the victors of the Second to end around two hundred thousand lives in a short amount of time), was to be considered acceptable. The “de facto legalisation of aerial bombardments” meant that “vertical extermination and dehumanisation of the other” was to become “routine” and “un-punishable”. Whilst such “vertical extermination” had already been used in sites like Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, it became a key part of the Allied victory in World War Two. The bombing of Dresden in 1945, for example, caused “the death of between 25 and 35 thousand people”, and is considered by some as a war crime. After the horrors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, meanwhile, the French bombed Algeria and Syria, and then the USA bombed North Korea and Vietnam. Today, “US drones bombard Pakistan or Yemen”, Assad’s planes bomb Syrian towns, and Israeli F-16s bomb Gazan civilians. It has become the norm.

The Israeli ambassador addressed Ireland back in 2008, asking “What if Dublin was attacked by rockets?” Robert Fisk responded to this question by asserting that, in the 1970s, Crossmaglen in Northern Ireland was indeed attacked by rockets from the Republic of Ireland, and that “the RAF did not bomb Dublin in revenge or kill Irish women and children”. The UK simply knew that such an action would do nothing to end further attacks. Israeli journalist Gideon Levy picks up on the fact that Israel doesn’t really care about ending ‘terrorism’ with its attacks. Instead, he insists that, “for Israel, it is not about fighting terrorism but about killing Arabs”. Since the 1982 Lebanon War, he says, “the killing of Arabs has become Israel’s primary strategic instrument”. He asserts that “the IDF doesn’t wage war against armies”, and that “its main target is civilian populations”. One piece of evidence to support this statement is the use of arms which are illegal according to international law – as shown in section one of this essay. [37]

Costa Rican activist David Morera Herrera has also made a comparison between the techniques of ‘vertical extermination’ used in Guernica and Gaza, with the aim of showing the fascism present in both cases. In 1937, the Basque town of Guernica in Spain was bombed by elite aeroplanes from both Hitler and Mussolini’s fascist air forces, in collaboration with General Franco’s army, and around “300 people died as a result of the bombardment”. In Gaza, meanwhile, aerial bombardment has been perhaps more sinister than in Guernica, as a clear tendency within Zionism in favour of “ethnic cleansing” has been witnessed on numerous occasions in the history of Israel. For Morera, if we condemn “Nazi and Neo-Nazi anti-Semitism or Muslim fundamentalists”, we must also condemn the “Zionist movement which is deeply supremacist and anti-Arab”. [39]

Racism and the Loss of Empathy

The genocidal behaviour of the IDF, meanwhile, is encouraged by a “radical and violent anti-Palestinian climate in Israel”, in which some claim they get an “orgasm [when the IDF] bomb buildings in Gaza with children and families at the same time”. Others have posted on twitter about their “desire for all Arabs to die”. Student Abu Toameh told The Electronic Intifada that “the madness and winds of racism in the air, along with the pogrom-like actions taking place in Jerusalem and other places, feels like Kristallnacht”.

Author Max Blumenthal has said that “deep-seated racism is pervasive throughout Israeli institutions and society” while, according to The Electronic Intifada, leading Israeli political and public figures also play an “integral role in spreading anti-Palestinian incitement”. One day before the kidnapping and murder of Muhammad Abu Khudair in East Jerusalem, for example, lawmaker Ayelet Shaked called on Facebook “for genocide against “the entire Palestinian people””. She argued that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy… including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure”. Quoting Uri Elitzur, a deceased leader of the settler movement, she said that Israel was at war, but “not… against terror, and not… against extremists, and not even… against the Palestinian Authority”. It was, instead, “a war between two people”, she affirmed. “In every war the people who started the war, that whole people, is the enemy” (a philosophy that, if adopted by the Palestinians, would justify attacks on all Israeli citizens). As a member of Israel’s ruling coalition government, she demonstrates the racism that is pervasive on Israel’s right-wing today. “Incitement”, says The Electronic Intifada, “comes from the top”, and Netanyahu “was the first to incite “vengeance”” after the bodies of the three Israeli teens were found in the West Bank. This explanation backs up the argument made at the beginning of the second part of this essay, which suggested that politicians and the media are partly responsible for the fear, ignorance, and hatred prevalent in Israeli society today. [40]

The violence and radicalism of the Israeli State has also been highlighted by Jerome Roos in ROAR Magazine. Roos, apart from giving examples of the horrors committed by the IDF in its recent assault on Gaza, points out that “it is now more obvious than ever that it is simply impossible to reason with the growing fanaticism that has grabbed a hold of” Israel. An Israeli friend of his emphasised that, today, “all you can see and hear is the far-right”, and “90% of the people in Israel are pro-war”. The few “brave Israeli pro-peace activists”, meanwhile, are “pelted with rocks, beaten with sticks, and chased down the street by a 2.000-strong mob of warmongering, flag-waving nationalists”. Apart from hitting dissenting voices hard, the more extremist sectors of Nationalist Zionism also enjoy the slaughter of civilians in Gaza, with “groups of Israelis [gathering] each evening on hilltops close to the Gaza border to cheer, whoop and whistle as bombs rain down on people in a hellish warzone a few miles away”.

With this “rising tide of racist belligerence”, Roos says the right-wing Israeli political establishment appears to have been strengthened, and “now appears to be dropping the veil of democratic pretensions altogether”. Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Moshe Feiglin, for example, who is “a key member of the ruling Likud party”, advocated recently the “occupation and annexation of Gaza and the expulsion of its Palestinian inhabitants”, saying “the IDF will conquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations”. Gaza, he claimed, “is part of our Land and we will remain there forever”. To clarify, he added that it would “become part of sovereign Israel” and “be populated by Jews”. Roos rightly affirms that “no room for doubt or ambiguity” is left by statements like those of Feiglin. When “leading Israeli politicians are openly advocating genocide and ethnic cleansing”, he says, we should no longer “mince our words for fear of alienating our audience”. For him, such a phenomenon is simply further proof that “you cannot reason with such bloodthirsty fanaticism”.

“The reality”, Roos asserts, “is that the Israeli government and the vast majority of Jewish-Israeli citizens are not the least bit interested in peace”, as Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy made clear when he said “Israel does not want peace… [Its] real purpose in Gaza is to kill Arabs”. Israeli citizens have been heard saying things like “we need to kill them — not just the Hamas militants but all the people in Gaza”, and “Palestinians don’t care about human life, whereas we appreciate life”. Such a “complete lack of empathy” and “thorough dehumanization of the colonized other” have shown very clearly that Israel “has absolutely no interest in peace – and never had either”. Through its “fanatical disregard for human life or dignity, the occupier has brutalized its victim to the point of dehumanizing itself” and, the more people around the world see this, the more they will be compelled to act to stop Israel. [41]

Esteemed academic Noam Chomsky supports this viewpoint, referring to a quote from Middle East analyst Mouin Rabbani, in which he asserts that “the institutionalized disregard for Palestinian life in the West helps explain not only why Palestinians resort to violence… but also Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip”. Palestinians, having “voted the wrong way in a carefully monitored free election” in 2006 (or, in other words, for a party that put Israel’s colonialist interests at risk), led Israel and the USA to initiate quickly “plans for a military coup to overthrow the elected government”. When these plans failed, “the Israeli assaults and the siege became far more severe”. But Hamas is not the terrorist organisation Israelis like to portray it as. With Gazans favouring death over continuing life under the Israeli blockade, Hamas’s resistance is welcomed. At the same time, “Hamas leaders have repeatedly made it clear that Hamas would accept a two-state settlement”, according to Chomsky, which is just what the international community has advocated since 1967 (and the USA and Israel have constantly blocked).

Israel is clearly “dedicated to the destruction of Palestine”, says Chomsky, and part of its achievement of this aim depended on the tactic of ‘divide and conquer’. When Fatah and Hamas united forces back in June, for example, Israel’s “claim that it cannot negotiate with a divided Palestine” was undercut, as were its “destructive policies” of “dividing Gaza from the West Bank”. That is why the Netanyahu government used the kidnapping of three Israeli youths as a pretext for the “18-day rampage… [of] Israeli repression” in the West Bank and the attacks in Gaza which killed five Hamas members on the 7th of July.

The aforementioned actions were what provoked the first firing of Hamas rockets “in 19 months” – an action which provided Netanyahu “with the pretext for Operation Protective Edge on July 8”. During this offensive, Chomsky claims that, in spite of Israel’s claims of having “the most moral army in the world”, it actually practises “sadism, sanctimoniously disguising itself as mercy”. The fact is that “there is no place in the prison of Gaza safe from Israeli sadism” – nowhere to flee from the violence. Israel doesn’t want a solution, Chomsky insists. It will only be happy for Gazans to “return to the norm in their Israeli-run prison” and for West Bank inhabitants to return to observing “as Israel dismantles what remains of their possessions”. The Israeli government wants rocket fire to stop, yes, but it doesn’t want to comply with the conditions that will end the desperation of Palestinians that leads to rocket fire.

In 1967, Chomsky says, Israel “made the fateful decision to choose expansion over security, rejecting a full peace treaty offered by Egypt”, and “has adhered to that policy ever since”. He insists that change can come, however, if the USA “withdraws [its] support” for that continued expansion. Israel, “having adopted policies that turned it from a country that was greatly admired to one that is feared and despised”, has marched “toward moral deterioration”, and the USA will not be able to sustain its support from much longer. If the USA obeys international laws, and its own laws (which assert that “no security assistance may be provided to any country… which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”), things can change in Israel. Because of its repeated violations of human rights and international law, Israel must be isolated, Chomsky argues, so that it is forced to reach an agreement with Palestinians. If it is not isolated, however, it will continue to show its penchant for ethnic cleansing with impunity. [42]

Israel is a European Colonialist Creation

“Only by ignoring the entire history of the conflict”, affirms Seumas Milne in the Guardian, is it possible to portray it “as the result of some wearisome ancient ethnic hatred”. A century on from the start of the First World War, he says, too many are unaware that the war was not about freedom, but about imperial interests. And, when the bloodshed was finally over, Britain and France split the former Ottoman Empire between them, affecting all of the land between Iraq and Palestine. The violence we see today in the region is a direct consequence of this arbitrary, ignorant partition of land. [27] Santiago Alba Rico goes even further, saying the Israel itself, as a Zionist entity, “was and continues to be a European plan, not a Jewish one, of colonisation of the Arab world (as Theodor Herzl himself presented to the English government [at the start of the 20th century]) developed with the collaboration of the European and Arab ruling classes and to the detriment of all the people in the territory”. And, together with the backing of the world’s imperialist powers, the “fanatical and ideological element of Zionism makes Israel, just like ISIS, the most irrational, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous force (with atomic bombs!) in the region”. [43]

During the First World War, “one people promised to a second the land of a third”. A “full-scale colonisation by mainly European settlers” was then followed, eventually, by “the establishment of Israel and the dispossession or expulsion of the majority of the Palestinian people”. After four Arab-Israeli wars aimed at combatting this colonisation, says Milne, all the territory destined for Palestinians “had been entirely occupied by Israel – and the Palestinians were fighting a guerrilla war for self-determination and the refugees’ right of return”.

“A Crime Made in Washington and London, as well as Jerusalem”

The violent resistance of Hamas has not come out of the blue. It is a direct consequence of both decades of oppression and the failure of “the Oslo Agreement of the early 1990s… to produce the Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza it was supposed to”. In response to violent Palestinian resistance, “Israel has colonised, bombed and reinvaded the Palestinian territories it illegally occupies”, while peaceful resistance has been shown to have little or no impact. And “at every stage Israel has had the military, financial and diplomatic support of the West, the US above all”. The UK, meanwhile, “has licensed the sale of a startling £8bn worth of military or dual-use equipment [to Israel] since 2010, and £42m of direct arms sales”.

Israel has failed to affect Hamas or destroy the united front being formed in Palestine, but it will no doubt continue its blockade, its occupation, and its “colonisation and denial of Palestinian rights”. The truth is that the “horror of Gaza is a crime made in Washington and London, as well as Jerusalem” and, for that reason, is a problem that can and must be dealt with by American and British citizens. The “endless phoney peace process… simply allows the land grab to continue”, whilst pushing Palestinians more and more towards acts of desperation. In order to truly challenge Israel’s crimes, global public outrage must be turned into “unrelenting pressure for an end to support for occupation, an arms embargo and sanctions”. [27]

4) The Role of the Media

A number of alternative media sources have strongly criticised the deliberate omission of information in the corporate media during Israel’s latest ‘operation’ in Gaza. [44] Glenn Greenwald, for example, who was key in releasing Edward Snowden’s leaked documents about US surveillance back in 2013, “gave the press an F for the way it’s handled [its] coverage… of the crisis in Gaza”. Reporting, he said, has been “based on the principal that Israeli lives are just inherently more valuable than Palestinian lives”. He also thought there was “an anti-Muslim… [and] racist element… [to] how this coverage is conducted”, saying on the other hand that “most people are “cowards” when it comes to saying anything remotely critical about the state of Israel”. [45]

In an article entitled “Inhuman shield”, Patrick Connors at MondoWeiss criticises The New York Times for its “lazy, credulous recitations of Israeli government talking points”, which attempt to “portray balance and symmetry in a dramatically unbalanced situation”. A comparison has been made in the paper, for example, between “targets in Gaza struck by Israel” and “rockets launched at Israel by Gaza” which, by completely ignoring the immense disparity between Gazan weapons and Israeli weapons, should be considered both “inappropriate and deceptive”. This distraction technique is especially worrying when we consider that only 40 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rockets and mortars since 2001 while, since 2000, over 8000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s huge military arsenal.

Context, meanwhile, has been ignored, and “scepticism and critical analysis” have been absent – with talk focussing on “civilians on both sides” even when the victims have been almost exclusively Gazans. Equally, when it became accepted that Hamas was not responsible for the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, and that Israel’s “escalation against Hamas” was therefore based on “false claims”, The Times failed to correct its previous repetitions of the Israeli line. A lack of media investigation into claims that Israel knew the teens had already been killed, meanwhile, allowed the “government-backed social-media campaign to channel outrage” and create “overwhelming Israeli support for a brutal attack on Gaza”.

The Times, as with many other newspapers, has also “failed to explain the basics”: that Gaza is full of refugees pushed off ‘Israeli land’; that the area “remains under Israeli military occupation and a siege”; and that life there is becoming increasingly desperate thanks to “isolation from the world”, a growing population, and water and electricity shortages. Moreover, there has been a failure to mention Israeli violations “even when rocket fire comes to a halt”, and an uninformed attempt to place “all the blame [for Israeli invasions of Gaza] on Hamas”. The Israeli government’s focus on undermining a “new Fatah-Hamas endorsed Palestinian authority”, meanwhile, was also ignored, with kidnappings, rocket fire, and then tunnels being described as the main reasons for the current conflict – echoing the official Israeli propaganda. And although “no Israeli civilian has been injured or killed in an attack from a tunnel to date”, Israel’s shift in focus prompted The Times to publish an “overblown narrative about the terror tunnel threat”, taking readers’ attention away from the reality of over a thousand civilian deaths in Gaza.

Another issue overlooked by The Times was the fact that billions of dollars’ worth of US military aid is given to Israel and that “many of Israel’s weapons are made in the US”. Avoiding this phenomenon shows that the paper concerns itself more with comforting “powerful Israeli and US elites” and distracting the population of the USA (“Israel’s most dedicated and uncritical backer”) than facing up to reality. Even more worryingly, however, is the fact that The Times has not been the only mainstream newspaper to follow the line of the Israeli government, with other corporate media outlets also being more influenced by financial interests than moral interests. [46]

One interesting example of counter-propaganda, meanwhile, comes from Rami Almeghari in The Electronic Intifada, who emphasises that the Israeli claims of destroying a “weapons development center” at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) are simply lies. A teacher of journalism at the university who claims to have “no party affiliations”, he insists that “the IUG is considered by many here to be Gaza’s finest university” and that it does not have, in contrast with Israeli universities, “departments dedicated to military research or training”. Western claims that the IUG is “Hamas-linked” are simply born out of a “profound ignorance”, he says, as Hamas was only formed a decade after the IUG. He also emphasises that he has been “openly critical of both Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank”, but has never been questioned by “Hamas-led authorities” or censored by “the IUG’s administration”. Instead of destroying ‘terrorist’ bases, he affirms, the Israeli government is just trying to deny Gazans their “basic necessities”, including “the possibility of learning and working in peace”. [47]

In conclusion, the mainstream media throughout the world has, as a general rule, lacked the courage or will to truly challenge Israeli propaganda in the most recent Gaza conflict. This sad fact should once again encourage us, therefore, to question everything we hear in the corporate media and seek alternative sources of information before believing we have an accurate view of an issue. Concerning media bias around the world, though, and particularly in the USA, we must ask ourselves “Does the one-sided treatment of the conflict by American politicians and media result from Israel’s greater popularity or does Israel’s greater popularity result from the one-sided treatment of the conflict by American politicians and media?” [48]

5) Popular International Solidarity with Gaza

Jews Criticise Zionism Too

With Zionists seeking to discredit their critics by calling them anti-Semites, it seems appropriate to begin this section with Jewish voices of opposition to Israel’s military operations. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, for example, says that “Israel itself is a mistake”, and that its “most formidable enemy in history is itself”. For Cohen, the idea of planting a foreign population into an area and expecting everything to work out fine was always an absurd notion. To make the situation worse, say former Israeli army officer Uri Avnery and Rabbi Henry Siegman, Israel has become the “only apartheid regime in the Western world”, creating an image of itself as “a blood-stained monster” which is ready to “commit war crimes” and “not prepared to abide by any moral restraints”. Noam Chomsky, meanwhile, has gone even further, asserting that Israel’s behaviour is “much worse than apartheid”.

Albert Einstein also opposed the Israeli state, saying it was “connected with many difficulties and a narrow-mindedness”, while social psychologist Erich Fromm insisted it could not possibly “be a realistic political claim”. If communities began to “claim territories in which their forefathers lived two thousand years ago”, Fromm asserted, “this world would be a madhouse”. This view was supported by historian Gabriel Kolko, who asserted that “no rational reason… justifies the state’s creation”. US actress Roseanne Barr, meanwhile, who ran as a presidential candidate in 2012 for the Peace and Freedom Party, revealed her own analysis of how Israel continues to exist in spite of its irrationality. She asserted that, as it is “propped up by evangelical Christians” in the USA (who hope war in the Middle East will lead to the Second Coming of Christ), the Zionist state manages to ensure ongoing financial and political support from the US establishment.

Many voices have come out in support of the Palestinian cause, but some of the most powerful are those that have experienced ethnic cleansing and oppression for themselves. Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi, for example, said that “everyone has their Jews” and that, “for the Israelis [,] they are the Palestinians”, while Marek Edelman (the last surviving leader of the 1943 Warsaw uprising) also showed his solidarity with the Palestinians, comparing their resistance fighters to the ZOB (“the Jewish fighters in Warsaw”). Political scientist Hannah Arendt, who fled Nazi persecution in Germany in 1933, has also criticised Zionism. She spoke of the fact that Zionists have, on numerous occasions, considered “the evil of anti-Semitism [to be] necessary for the good of the Jewish people” – primarily because it gives them an excuse to immediately call their critics anti-Semites and guilt-trip anti-fascists into supporting their cause.

Journalist I.F. Stone claimed, meanwhile, that the “racial and exclusionist” Israeli state had created a “moral schizophrenia in world Jewry” that led it to forget that true safety for ethnic minorities lies in “the maintenance of secular, non-racial, pluralistic societies”. For Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky, such societies, and thus “the salvation of the Jewish people”, were “bound up inseparably with the overthrow of the capitalist system”, and not with a Zionist state founded within the capitalist world. Novelist Isaac Asimov emphasised that it was “wrong for anyone to feel that there is anything special about any one heritage of whatever kind”, affirming that such a thought would lay “the groundwork” for the destruction of all that is considered different. Once again insisting on the similarities between fascism and Zionism, former UN human rights rapporteur Richard Falk has expressed his sympathises with the Palestinian people by calling Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories “a crime against humanity” comparable to “Nazi treatment of the Jews”. Palestinians, he says, “stand out as the most victimized people in the world” today. [49]

More recently, the Israeli attack on Gaza has “reshaped the American discussion of Israel and Palestine”. Ken Roth (executive director of Human Rights Watch), for example, whose father fled from Nazi Germany in 1938, has said that Palestinians should “go to the International Criminal Court to have Israel hauled up on war crimes”, insisting that Israel has repeatedly ignored prior warnings that such a process would begin. No matter how many times Israel screams “human shields”, he argues, the fact is that there are so many civilian deaths because Israel “is paying insufficient care to saving civilian lives”. The “wrong weaponry” has been used, and the IDF has “shot at people with many civilians around”, leaving Roth with the conclusion that Israel has committed war crimes. The UN’s recognition of Palestine as a state now allows it to now “ratify the International Criminal Court treaty”, he asserts. One thing stopping the Palestinian Authority from doing so, though, is that “the U.S. government and certain Western governments are shamefully putting pressure on the Palestinian Authority not to…, threatening to withhold aid and all kinds of severe consequences”. For Roth, however, an ICC decision is the “only realistic prospect for bringing justice to the many, many victims of these war crimes”.

According to Roth, there has clearly been “disproportionate harm to civilians”, and that must be considered a “war crime regardless of whether there might have been a militant in the vicinity or not”. The IDF cannot simply “issue a warning and assume that everybody left” is a combatant, he says. By attacking Gazans because Hamas rules over them, Israelis simply follow the “same logic that they criticize Hamas for” (that, because they vote for nationalists like Netanyahu, “any Israeli civilian is fair game”). This is “war crime logic”, asserts Roth.

Yale professor David Bromwich, meanwhile, says that, if your aim is “not to inflict unnecessary injury on civilians”, you simply “do not kill unarmed people in such numbers”. The pattern of deaths, he insists, “admits of no misunderstanding” and, as a result, we can deduce that the Netanyahu government tacitly condones “retaliation against any Palestinian who comes into view”. According to a Gazan human rights lawyer he quotes, “war crimes happened”, “entire families have been erased”, and “the scale never, ever was on this level”.

Most importantly, however, Bromwich draws a comparison between Israeli behaviour and US behaviour during Vietnam, referring in particular to the idea of a “free-fire zone”. This “unwritten concept” says that soldiers are “free to decide “in the heat” whom they want to kill, and that those whom they target need not be armed or anywhere close to anyone armed”. This principle, according to Bromwich, is precisely what has allowed so many civilians to be killed in Israel’s recent assault on Gaza.

Even long-time supporter of Israel Leon Wieseltier has found “Israel’s failure to sort out militants from civilians “sickening””, asserting that “overwhelming Israeli support for the slaughter makes him “queasy””. If “the villains can be identified”, he asserts, “so can the people”. Wieseltier claims to have received comments from Zionists which are “lunatic in their lack of compassion”, and in response he simply asserts that “there are no concepts that can catch up with the murder of children”. Whilst still supportive of Israel, and denying that he is “a turncoat or a pawn”, he unleashes a scathing criticism of Israel by saying that “some of what [it] is doing to defend itself is sickening”. [50]

The Action and Inaction of International Actors

In spite of the comments above relating to opposition to Israeli actions, many international political figures have officially tried to be very careful with their language (and avoid “discourteous references”) when referring to the recent Israeli attack on Gaza. [51] As the conflict has gone on, however, it has become harder and harder for these figures to limit what they say. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, for example, was forced, after “an attack that killed 10 people at a UN-run Gaza school”, to speak of “moral outrage” and a “gross violation of international law”. The assault, he affirmed, “along with other breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated and those responsible held accountable”. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, meanwhile, also felt the need to condemn Israel, saying that its “right to security does not justify killing children”. [52]

In Latin America, solidarity with Palestinians has been particularly strong, thanks to the continent’s left-leaning governments. Venezuela, for example, broke all ties with Israel back in 2009 after its last invasion of Gaza, following Cuba’s decision to do the same back in 1973 (after the Arab–Israeli War). Other states, meanwhile, have taken smaller steps to isolating Israel diplomatically, with Ecuador and Brazil recalling their ambassadors and Chile suspending its free trade agreement with the Israelis. [53] Bolivia’s Evo Morales, however, has perhaps been the most outspoken leader during 2014’s assault on Gaza, declaring “Israel to be a terrorist state” and signing a statement “encouraging people to join the BDS campaign” [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] against Israel.

The signatories of the aforementioned letter (which included former Honduran president Mel Zelaya; musician Silvio Rodriguez; Mexican Bishop Raúl Vera; and writers like Eduardo Galeano, Miguel Barnet, Raúl Zibechi, Luis Britto García, Eva Golinger, and Pascual Serrano) expressed their “absolute repulsion at the genocide” and condemned “the imperialist role of the United States that politically, financially and militarily sponsors and backs Israel”. They also emphasised that Israel’s aggression should not be seen as a war but as “a genocide being perpetrated by one of the best equipped armies in the world against a people whose defensive resources are infinitely inferior in quantity and quality”.


The letter carried a demand for “an end to apartheid and genocide, as well as to the walls and illegal settlements”, and for Israel to comply “with UN Security Council resolutions that oblige it to withdraw from Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, return to the borders that existed prior to the “Six Day War” (1967) and guarantee the right of return for Palestinian refugees” (Security Council Resolution No. 242). A solution will only be found, they said, if there is “dialogue, negotiation and the existence of two states with equal rights and delineated borders that are internationally recognized”. In order for this to happen, they affirmed that the blockade on Gaza must be immediately lifted and “all Palestinian political prisoners” freed. [54]

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro (whose island, like Gaza, has suffered from a destructive economic embargo since declaring its freedom from US domination over fifty years ago) also added his voice to those criticising Israel’s recent invasion of Gaza, saying it represented “a new, repugnant form of fascism”. In Gaza, he asserted, “unemployment surpasses 40%” and “more than 70% of the population depends on humanitarian aid during normal periods”. In these circumstances, he questions why, if the world was outraged by the holocaust, the Israeli government expects the world [to] be insensitive to the macabre genocide which today is being perpetuated against the Palestinian people”. [55]

In Mexico, the autonomous Zapatista communities in Chiapas affirmed in 2009 that, to them, it “looks like there’s a professional army murdering a defenceless population in Gaza”. They also emphasised that the media very rarely analyses the issue of “who planted that which is being harvested”, in a clear reference to the fact that the Zionist project was responsible for setting the violent Israeli-Palestinian conflict in motion. [55.1] During the 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza, the Network against Repression released a communique called “Palestine On Our Lips”, which reminded the world that each innocent civilian who has died in Gaza has a name and a personal story. [55.2] The Zapatistas, meanwhile, spoke at a National Indigenous Congress about how the word ‘conflict’ has been used in Gaza “as if there were two equal forces that are confronting each other”, and “as if by saying ‘conflict’ the death and destruction would be hidden”. The capitalist “war machine”, their representative said, brings with it “the death and destruction of our people and our earth” and, in Palestine, “a war of extermination against the Palestinian people”. It is “not a conflict”, he affirmed, “but a massacre”. All other words simply “try to hide the reality”. Finally, he underlined Zapatista solidarity with Palestinians, saying “although far away…, the Zapatistas embrace you now as we did before, [and] as we always will”. [55.3]

Professionals Stand Up for Gazan Citizens

Academics and doctors, meanwhile, have been some of the loudest critics of Israel’s actions in Gaza. Latin American psychologist Edgar Barrero Cuellar, for example, criticised Israel’s “disproportionate use of violence against unarmed civilians”, and its “massacre of Palestinian children”, saying these acts were bound to create a “feeling of collective impotency” and a “desire to fight or seek vengeance”. Those trying to justify innocent deaths, he said, have lost any “notion of love, respect, and tolerance of differences”. For him, psychology is all about “peace, dialogue, and respect for the differences of others” and, as a professional, he affirmed that he could not remain silent. Israel’s “psychology of war”, he insisted, destroys the “ethical barrier between the human and the beast”, and videos of some Israeli citizens drinking and celebrating as missiles fall on Gaza confirmed the destruction of this barrier. Barrero also found it necessary to emphasise how the undemocratic structure of the UN has once again meant a failure to act, in spite of significant global opposition to Israeli actions in Palestine. [56]

One vocal show of support for Palestinians in the medical community came from The Lancet, a general medical journal which published several articles criticising the recent Israeli assault on Gaza. Its policy in situations of armed conflict is to “put the interests of civilian lives ahead of the politics of military engagement” and, as a result, it has spoken out in the interest of ‘protecting, serving, and speaking up for life’. Speaking from “first-hand experience of Gaza”, the journal affirms that, “when one enters Gaza, it is as if one is entering a prison”. After passing through four gates at the Erez crossing in northern Gaza, a “landscape of destroyed roads, buildings, and bridges” awaits visitors, and “debris lies everywhere”. You also see the “crowded nature of life in Gaza”, and the large amount of children there – as “45% of Gaza’s population is younger than 14 years of age” (and has already been subjected to numerous Israeli assaults in their short lifetimes).

The Lancet emphasises that, while “Israel has the right to defend its citizens…, International Humanitarian Law requires three principles to be upheld during such a defence”. Firstly, the Principle of Distinction asserts that “parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants”. Secondly, the Principle of Precautions in Attack states that “parties to the conflict must take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population and civilian objects under their control against the effects of attacks”. Finally, the Principle of Proportionality declares that “launching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited”.

In spite of the verbosity of these principles, their application to Israel’s assault on Gaza is very clear. In this context, the fact is that “no-one can escape” from Gaza. It is “a crowded land in which children are the largest single group of the population”, and where there is “extreme risk to civilians… if conflict does not follow very strictly” the principles outlined above. To make the situation worse, “Palestinian civilian populations have no Iron Dome” to protect them from Israeli attacks and, as a result, hundreds of children and women have been killed and thousands have been injured. Furthermore, over250 000 people have been displaced from their homes”, “1.8 million people have reduced or no access to safe water”, and “epidemics of lice and scabies have broken out in shelters”. The conflict, according to the journal, “is having far-reaching effects on the survival, health, and wellbeing” of civilians, and it is the “duty of doctors” in this situation “to give a voice to those who have no voice”. In doing so, it hopes to use its authority to “promote an open and diverse discussion” about “the actions and injustices that have led to this conflict” and the effect the war has had on civilian health. [57]

In another letter in The Lancet, 24 signatories made their feelings known about the situation in Gaza. Having “worked in and known the situation of Gaza for years”, these doctors and scientists felt it necessary to denounce “what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel… on the basis of our ethics and practice”. A “ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity”, they say in the letter, cannot be considered a “defensive aggression”. Feeling “appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists”, they emphasise that the “death toll is borne mainly by innocent people”. The aggression, they affirm, “wounds the soul, mind, and resilience of the young generation”, especially as Gaza is denied and prevented from receiving “external help and supplies to alleviate the dire circumstances”.

Thanks to the blockade on Gaza, the letter says, “people suffer from hunger, thirst, pollution, shortage of medicines, electricity, and any means to get an income”. Resistance against the siege, the signatories insist, occurs simply because Gazans “want a better and normal life”. As a result, they see no reason to accept temporary truces which do not “provide a real chance for a better future”. Gazan citizen Um Al Ramlawi is quoted in the letter as saying “they are killing us all anyway—either a slow death by the siege, or a fast one by military attacks. We have nothing left to lose—we must fight for our rights, or die trying”.

The letter emphasises that Gazans are not hostages of Hamas, but of Israel and Egypt. Blockaded since 2006, fisherman “face being shot by the Israeli Navy”, and permission is needed from Israeli or Egyptian forces if any citizens are to leave Gaza (and is incredibly “hard to come by”). “Entries of food and medicines into Gaza”, meanwhile, “have been restricted and many essential items for survival are prohibited”. The territory cannot export its produce, and “agriculture has been severely impaired by the imposition of a buffer zone”. As a consequence, around “80% of Gaza’s population is dependent on food rations from the UN”. The blockading of building materials, meanwhile, has meant that “buildings and infrastructure … destroyed during Operation Cast Lead, 2008-09” have not been properly rebuilt. And this applies to factories, for example, which have been left in ruins and have subsequently left many workers unemployed.

The recent “reconciliation between factions” in Palestine, according to the letter, was a move to “resolve… conflicts “without arms and harm”” which Israel could not allow. “The present Israeli attacks”, it insists, “stop this chance of political unity between Gaza and the West Bank”. They have gone “way beyond the purpose of finding tunnels”, and in reality “aim to terrorise, wound the soul and the body of the people, and make their life impossible in the future, as well as… demolishing their homes and prohibiting the means to rebuild”. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people have nowhere to go, and not even UNRWA installations have been safe. “Most people are psychologically traumatised”, according to the signatories, and weapons “known to cause long-term damages on [the] health of the whole population” have been used – including “non-fragmentation weaponry and hard-head bombs”. These “so-called intelligent weapons”, they affirm, “fail to be precise, unless they are deliberately used to destroy innocent lives”. Allegations of the use of gas, meanwhile, if confirmed, would be “unequivocally a war crime”, they say.

In summary, the letter asserts that Gaza, “trapped under siege, is being killed by one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated modern military machines” and “the land is poisoned by weapon debris”. Empathising with the Palestinians and their reasons for resisting Israeli occupation, its signatories take a brave stand as professionals against Israel’s war crimes. “If those of us capable of speaking up fail to do so”, they argue, “we are also complicit in the destruction”. [58]

In addition to the previous comments from The Lancet, a senior official of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Jonathan Whittall, has also found it impossible to maintain his silence regarding Israel’s attack on Gaza. In an “unprecedented criticism”, he has asserted that MSF’s work in Gaza is akin to being “in an open-air prison to patch up prisoners in between their torture sessions”. In such a situation, he is led to question whether MSF’s actions in Gaza have in fact become “complicity with aggression and oppression” rather than simply humanitarian aid. For Whittall, the “entire [Gazan] population is trapped in what is essentially an open-air prison”. The fact that “some of the prisoners have organised into armed groups and resist their indefinite detention by firing rockets over the prison wall” is simply a consequence of their dire situation, he affirms.

The role of MSF, according to Whittall, “is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not repeatedly to treat the same patients between torture sessions”. Committed to not allowing the “outrage of MSF medical teams” to be once again “drowned out by the propaganda war that erupts each time a [military] operation such as this takes place”, he criticises the “international political configuration that allows for the sick political statements and endless violence to continue”. All Gazans, he asserts, are made to pay the price “for living under siege and for their acts of resistance”, and this situation is made even worse “by the duration of the suffering”. Israel, he argues, fails to gain the moral high ground it seeks for two reasons. Firstly, they prevent Palestinians from “[moving] freely and [seeking] safety in times of violence”. And secondly, they attack “civilians and civilian infrastructure – including medical workers, health centres and ambulances” which, for Whittall, “should never be targeted”. [59]

Even the Rich and Famous Have Spoken Out

Around the world, millions of people have taken to the streets to protest against Israel’s assault on Gaza. In the USA, which is Israel’s most powerful and important ally, “large demonstrations against Israel’s assault” have taken place, suggesting that “Washington’s pro-Israel policies are becoming increasingly unpopular”. [60] In the subway of New York City, for example, librarians and archivists stood up for Gazans by “reading aloud excerpts of Palestinian literature”, sometimes to applause from passengers. [61] In fact, a recent Gallup poll has shown that, of Americans under the age of 30, 51% think “Israel’s aggression in Gaza is unjustified”, compared to 25% who think it is. Non-Caucasian Americans, meanwhile, were also shown to be twice as likely to oppose the assault as to support it. [60]

Many celebrities (part of the world’s economic elites that generally support Israel) have also felt forced to speak out about the civilian deaths in Gaza, and figures like Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz have even accused the Israeli government of genocide”. The silence of some well-known supporters of Israel, meanwhile, could also be seen as a sign that Israel has once again gone too far with its recent attack. The critics do have their detractors, however, and Jon Voight, for example, has said that stars’ comments “could incite anti-Semitism” with their words. In response to such a stance, though, Jon Stewart made it clear on his Daily Show that “questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas” or anti-Semitic. [62]

In another sign of solidarity, but this time from the football world, German World Cup winner Mesut Özil decided to give his earnings from the World Cup to the victims of the assault on Gaza. He told the press that he had made this decision after being profoundly affected when Gazan children were killed by the IDF whilst playing football on a beach. His response was made even more personal by the fact that one of the victims actually had a football shirt with his name on it. [63]

One celebrity who has been particularly active in the condemnation of Israel’s actions has been musician Brian Eno, who felt he broke “an unspoken rule” by writing a letter directed at the USA on the subject. [64] He begins his letter by speaking of how Israeli flechette bombs [65] (“hundreds of small steel darts packed around explosive which tear the flesh off humans”) “shredded” a 4-year-old boy into pieces. Among hundreds of examples of child deaths, Eno’s reminds us of the immense suffering that Israel has inflicted on Gaza with its most recent offensive. In particular, though, he calls into question the morality of the USA amidst Israel’s onslaught. Referring to the commission that the UN plans to launch into war crimes in Gaza, for example, he emphasises that “America won’t sign up to it”. He calls this an illustration of America’s “blind support of this one-sided exercise in ethnic cleansing”, asking why, when the USA speaks so much about “Liberty and Democracy”, it then turns around and supports “a ragingly racist theocracy”.

When visiting Israel last year, Eno says, he heard horrible tales of “settlers throwing shit and piss and used sanitary towels” at Palestinians; of children “being beaten by Israeli kids with baseball bats to parental applause and laughter”; of villages being evicted while “settler families moved onto their land”; and of “an Israeli settlement …diverting its sewage directly… onto Palestinian farmland”. On top of these and other “endless daily humiliations”, he insists, there is the segregation created by “the Wall” and “the checkpoints”. When outsiders hear about such attacks on Palestinian dignity, he asks, how can they possibly not support, or at least understand, the campaign for Palestinian freedom and self-determination?

Jews born outside of Israel come to the region with the idea that they have “an inviolable (God-given!) right to the land”, Eno says, and they subsequently exhibit “straightforward old-school racism”. US and Western support for such behaviour, he affirms, are a threat to “the civilisational achievements of The Enlightenment and Western Culture”. They risk being discredited, he says, “by this flagrant hypocrisy”. According to Eno, the issue is “beyond politics”, and inaction simply represents a “squandering [of] the civilizational capital” built up in the West. [64]

Accused by Jewish-American writer Peter Schwartz of ‘singling Israel out’ and supporting a “new form of anti-Semitism”, Eno was forced to write another letter. Admitting that there are people who are “fundamentally anti-Jewish” who revel in Israeli crimes, he insists immediately that “they aren’t given the microphone” at large demonstrations. The dangerous thing, he says, is that the existence of these true anti-Semites gives “the apologists for Israel the perfect let-out”, leading them to claim all opposition to Israeli actions is simply anti-Semitism. As far as singling Israel out is concerned, Eno assures Schwartz that he has also lobbied for action when the West has supported other criminal governments (like South Africa, for example). At the moment, however, Israel is the only country, he claims, that can get away with bombing 120 UN buildings.

So Israel is not being singled out because it is Jewish, Eno affirms, but because it has committed war crimes and receives support from the West to do so. “It isn’t just about Israel for me”, he says, “but about what my government is doing in my name”. He affirms that, as a British citizen, he has “some power to change the way that Britain relates to Israel”. It is a ‘fight we can win’, he asserts, and Palestinians and “a committed Jewish counterculture in Israel” are asking us to join them in that fight. Just like South African trade unions did in the 60s and 70s, or Bosnians did in the 90s, they are asking for help to save lives in the region.

At the same time, Eno insists that British people have an even greater responsibility because the British government “had a big hand in creating the problem” – creating a “thoughtless and arbitrary… partition” in Mandatory Palestine, leaving a “palpably unworkable arrangement”, and then “turning a blind eye when… settlers drove Arabs off their land”. Today, meanwhile, former Prime Minister Tony Blair receives million dollar peace prizes from Israeli institutions while the USA gives Israel “about 18 million dollars in military aid each day”. This is an image of “sheer, unvarnished hypocrisy”, Eno insists, and it is precisely what the world sees of the West. “People in power [simply] won’t – or can’t – do anything”, he says, “without a HUGE popular mandate”, and that is precisely why we need to force the government’s hand and make it act. [66]

Eno is not the only cultural figure who has taken a stand against the most recent Israeli attack on Gaza, however. Poems and songs from around the world have been written in solidarity with Gazan civilians. A song by Leon Rosselson, for example, insists that children are innocent and deserve to be free, whatever their ethnicity, religion, or location – making an invocative comparison between a Jewish girl during the Second World War and a Palestinian boy today. “I saw children still being slaughtered”, he says, “The monster must have its fill / While the people with power sat on their hands /And supplied the weapons that kill / I weep for the people of Gaza / And they are weeping still / And I curse the ones who did nothing / And enable the monster to kill”. Commitment to the true democratic ideal of giving equal opportunities and treatment to all human beings regardless of who they are is precisely why so many people have spoken up recently. All of the protests and all of the comments have come to light out of disgust for injustice and in the hope of stopping Israel’s indiscriminate killing of children and its continuing blockade of Gaza. [67]

A Second South Africa

Desmond Tutu, having participated in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, decided to write to Haaretz to emphasise the similarities between South African apartheid and the situation in modern-day Israel. In the 1980s, he says in his letter, a “cocktail of persuasive, nonviolent tools” was “developed to isolate South Africa, economically, academically, culturally and psychologically”. This strategy managed to force leaders into negotiations, he asserts, and the tipping point was when the apartheid government “realized that the cost of attempting to preserve apartheid outweighed the benefits”. Back then, both South African resistance groups and the world’s conscious citizens knew they were dealing with an irrational regime that was not going to change voluntarily, so they tried to isolate it through a boycott, sanctions, and divestment (BDS) campaign. “The reason these tools… ultimately proved effective”, affirms Tutu, “was because they had a critical mass of support, both inside and outside the country”.

In Israel and Palestine today, Tutu insists the same situation is true, as it is clear that the Israeli government will not change voluntarily. “The State of Israel is behaving as if there is no tomorrow”, he says, and its “leaders perpetuate conditions that sustain the conflict”. These figures allow “daily violations of human dignity and freedom of movement” against the Palestinian people, he says, mentioning in particular the checkpoints, roadblocks, illegal occupation, and “construction of buffer zone settlements on occupied land”. As a result of their resistance to change, Tutu emphasises that “the people of Palestine have every right to struggle for their dignity and freedom”, though he makes it clear that “there is no military solution” to the conflict. Instead, he asserts, the “nonviolent toolbox we developed in South Africa in the 1980s” is the best way forward.

With “politicians and diplomats… failing to come up with answers”, Tutu argues, “a sustainable solution… rests with civil society and the people of Israel and Palestine themselves”. Companies that “continue to do business with Israel”, he says, “contribute to a sense of “normalcy” in Israeli society” and are perpetuating “a profoundly unjust status quo”. Therefore, they must be targeted by the world’s citizens through a boycott, sanctions, and divestment campaign. In this way, people can exercise peaceful pressure on the supporters of Israel just like they did regarding South Africa in the 1980s. The apartheid regime, Tutu claims, was “brought… to its knees” by the BDS campaign, and the same can happen with Israel. Weakening the Israeli regime, he asserts, can bring about a “mind-set shift”, in which the state “stops regarding legitimate criticism of [its] policies as an attack on Judaism” and realises that a perpetuation of the current status quo will “damn future generations to violence and insecurity”.

According to Tutu, the recent conflict in Gaza has led to “the largest active outcry by citizens around a single cause ever in the history of the world”. He emphasises that over “1.6 million people across the world have [joined] an Avaaz campaign [online] calling on corporations profiting from the Israeli occupation and/or implicated in the abuse and repression of Palestinians to pull out”. Whilst telling Israeli citizens that liberating Palestine will also liberate them, Tutu calls on citizens around the world to “turn the tide against violence and hatred by joining the nonviolent movement for justice for all people of the region”. [68]

Nelson Mandela, meanwhile, always took a firm line on the ‘Palestinian Question’, as he did with other cases of imperialist aggression around the world. This stance, in part, came from the fact that figures like Yasser Arafat and Muammar Gaddafi had shown “their friendship and support for the ANC when it was all but abandoned by others”. [69] Mandela himself, as a threat to racist and capitalist interests in apartheid South Africa, was called a terrorist by the country’s leaders, much in the same way that Israel has called Palestinian resistance groups terrorists. In 1990, he made it very clear that, just like the apartheid regime in his country, the Israeli government ought to be considered “a terrorist state…, because they are the people who are slaughtering defenceless and innocent Arabs in the occupied [Palestinian] territories”. [70] In the same year, he described Arafat as a “friend and comrade” who was also “fighting against a unique form of colonialism”.

After his death, there were a number of “hypocritical eulogies” that attempted to “remove any trace of his indictment of Israeli policies”, [71] but the fact is that he “saw Israel as an occupier and analogized Israel’s occupation to South Africa’s treatment of its black population, both in taking over their lands and in the use of force to repress any counter efforts”. He did recognise Israel’s “right to exist”, but insisted that its borders were those established “before the 1967 war”. He thus supported Palestinian resistance movements, whilst emphasising that “the only path to peace in the Middle East [would be] direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians”. [69]

Mandela recognised, however, that, as long as there were double standards in the world, Israel would not voluntarily enter into serious negotiations with Palestinians. The Israeli government, in spite of its violations of international law and the fact that it “has weapons of mass destruction”, was never invaded or sanctions by the USA or NATO, and the hypocrisy of this reality was called out by Mandela. In 2002, he asked, referring to the upcoming invasion of Iraq, why there was “one standard for one country…, and another one for another country”. [70] One answer to his question is that hypocrisy exists precisely because Israel ensures the interests of Western capitalists and plays an important geopolitical role for them in the Middle East. It should be seen as no coincidence that the USA and NATO only tend to isolate or bomb places that oppose the rule of Western capitalists. Whether in Korea or Iran, Cuba or Vietnam, Nicaragua or Libya, the trend is clear. Anti-capitalists, anti-imperialists, or anti-colonialists are not welcome in a world dominated by capitalist interests.

Although he criticised the West’s double standards and Israeli policies, Mandela himself never used the word ‘apartheid’ to describe Israel in public. Dutch human rights activist Arjan El Fassed, however, put himself in Mandela’s shoes in 2001 to say what he thought the South African leader had failed to mention regarding the ‘Palestinian Question’. For El Fassed, the conflict was “not just an issue of military occupation” related to the 1967 war. There are also “problems of 1948 to be solved”, he insisted, such as the “right to return of Palestinian refugees”. A solution in Israel’s eyes depends on “separation”, he said, “which is measured in terms of the ability of Israel to keep the Jewish state Jewish, and not to have a Palestinian minority that could have the opportunity to become a majority at some time in the future”. Zionists didn’t, and don’t, want a “secular democratic or bi-national state”, and “a state of apartheid” is therefore the only option left on the table for its leaders. This option has long been the most attractive for the Israeli government partly because “a third of [its] population… openly declare themselves to be racist”, and “racial discrimination is [already] daily life [for] most Palestinians”. Division is key, and is represented by “two judicial systems… one for Palestinian life and the other for Jewish life”. Western support blindly allows this separation to continue and, without international pressure to change the status quo, there is significant evidence to show that Zionists will continue to follow an apartheid strategy in Israel. [72]

The division of humanity is essential for the maintenance of the global capitalist structure. It sets countries against each other, communities against each other, and even families against each other. Nelson Mandela realised that cultural variety among humans, which fills the world with so much beauty, is exploited by economic elites that revel in the infighting of human beings. He knew that they benefitted from dividing us along linguistic, religious, or ethnic lines, and he called this process “entirely artificial”. That is why he “stood for a non-racial democracy”. He was also aware that, fundamentally, there are only two divisions that really matter on this earth – the division between the oppressors and the oppressed. That is why he sought to forge a society where “there were no rich or poor and there was no exploitation”.

Mandela “cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society” in which no group of people exercised domination over another, and that is precisely what the majority of people who have expressed solidarity with Palestine want – freedom, self-determination, and an end to the domination of one group over another. And these are socialist ideals, whether pro-Palestinian activists are aware of it or not. Capitalism praises the existence of dominant elites, and the global capitalist system is designed to protect these elites. Self-determination worries them, and the mass organisation of people worries them. But by allowing social injustices throughout the world, like those suffered by Palestinians, they are sowing the seeds for popular resistance, organisation, and self-determination. By permitting or encouraging violent attacks on freedom, equality, and autonomy, they are mobilising lovers of peace and justice throughout the world. [73]

Nelson Mandela knew the Palestinians were oppressed, just like he knew black South Africans were oppressed, and just like he knew workers around the world were oppressed. Exploitation and oppression take different forms, but they are all essentially the same thing – domination of one group over another. Capitalist elites – or the rich and powerful who fund division and war – use politicians and the media to control us. To different extents, all of those who are oppressed should relate to the Palestinian cause and support it. For that reason, we have heard solidarity from people who are tired of police brutality; tired of the people who give the orders to repress; tired of ethnic or sexual discrimination; tired of the unjust political and economic structure that stops them from controlling their own lives; tired of the unrestrained rule of a lying, thieving global elite that exploits humans throughout the world in order to feed its financial greed; and, most importantly, tired of the arbitrary division of oppressed human beings.

The Last Word

Perhaps the most poignant expression of solidarity with people in Gaza, however, came from 225 Jewish survivors (and descendants of survivors) of the Nazi holocaust, who “unequivocally [condemned] the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine”. They also criticised the US for funding and arming Israel, whilst slating other Western states for “using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation”. Speaking of the “extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society”, they also affirmed that “nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities… [or] depriving people of electricity and water”. Finally, in a call for “the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel”, along with “an immediate end to the… blockade of Gaza”, they insisted that ““never again must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE”. [74]

These words, along with those of other anti-Zionist Jews mentioned in this section of the essay, clearly show that criticism of Israel’s politics has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. Moreover, it is immensely significant that people who have suffered the worst horrors of discrimination, repression, and ethnic cleansing have stood up to Israel and called it out as a hypocrite. The fact is that the country’s actions speak for themselves, and that its meaningless rhetoric about ‘democracy’ means nothing as long as it continues to oppress Palestinians and occupy their land. Conscious citizens, academics, doctors, and even celebrities know this, and that is why they have raised their voices in support of Gazan civilians. They are not anti-Semites, fascists, or extremists. They simply support peace, justice and, perhaps most of all, equality. That is why so much solidarity with Palestinians has been expressed during the recent Israeli attack. There is no other reason.

6) The Struggle Continues

There are a number of factors that will influence events in coming months and years in Palestine and Israel, but nothing is for certain. The behaviour of Israeli society, the actions of Palestinian resistance groups, and the conduct of the international community will all play a part in determining the future of the region. In this final section, I will look at both what is likely to happen and what ought to happen regarding the ‘Palestinian Question’, basing each assessment on the words of experts. I will also leave it clear that a boycott against Israel is the best and only way in which the world’s citizens can support Palestinians in their search for self-determination at this point in time.

The Real Danger to Israel’s Sustainability Comes from Within

Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz, for example, believes that Israel is “gripped by fear and is becoming increasingly suspicious of democracy”. Where the world sees Palestinians as human beings, she says, “Israel sees enemies”, and therefore does not “ponder about the fragility of the other”. According to Illouz, the real danger to Israel, therefore, comes from within – from the country’s “split, schizophrenic self-awareness”. In spite of its immense military power, she insists, it still sees itself as “weak and threatened”. As a result, this “colonial military power… controls the Palestinians through a wide network of colonial tools, such as checkpoints, military courts…, the arbitrary granting of work permits, house demolitions and economic sanctions”. In a “militarized civil society” in which almost every family has a father, son or brother in the army, the military structure is “crucial in both political decisions and in the public sphere”. For Illouz, ““security” is the paramount concept guiding Israeli society and politics”, and that doesn’t look set to change any time soon.

The “humanitarian sensibility”, or “capacity to identify with the suffering of a distant other”, has been lost from Israeli society, she says. The solution to this problem, however, can be seen clearly if we look at how it was caused. “Israelis and Palestinians”, she claims, “used to be mixed”, albeit with the Palestinians functioning as an exploited workforce. Then, she says, “the wall was built”, “the road blocks came”, and a “massive reduction in work permits followed”. With Palestinians soon ‘disappearing from Israeli society’, and the Second Intifada creating increased tension between the two groups, the “messianic right has progressively gained power” and become “increasingly mainstream”. Political discourse in the country has changed, and radicalism has disguised itself as “patriotic” or “Jewish”. Illegal settlements have been strengthened by tax breaks, military protection, and the building of roads and infrastructure for these communities. In the 1960s, Illouz asserts, “you could be both socialist and Zionist” but, today, that “is not possible”.

The right wing, according to Illouz, “has been more systematic and more mobilized, both inside and outside Israel”. Zionists outside Israel, who “often live in societies in which their own democratic rights are guaranteed”, tend to have “very right-wing views and contribute money to newspapers, think tanks and religious institutions inside Israel”. They don’t “understand the distress of Israelis who see democracy progressively eaten away by dark forces”. They “do not have the same interests” as those inside Israel anymore and, as a consequence, around 40 percent of Israelis are “considering leaving” the country.

A significant reason for institutionalised Israeli aggression towards Palestinians, and a serious impediment for a peaceful solution, is the fact that “fear is deeply engrained in Israeli society”. It generates a “catastrophalist” way of thinking, according to Illouz, which focuses minds on “the worst case scenario” and not on “a normal course of events”. This philosophy, she says, allows “many more moral norms” to be broken than if things were viewed from a more realistic perspective. Creating an “obsessive incapacity to differentiate” between peaceful and violent Palestinians, this attitude is born from a “historical trauma of the consciousness”, and is “cynically used by leaders” like Netanyahu” to make Israeli society “believe that they all want to destroy [it]”. The “filter through which a conflict with Hamas is interpreted” is one in which the enemies are “not human beings”. The Israelis believe they have a “moral superiority” because their army has “good manners”, advising Palestinian civilians before destroying their homes and communities. While the world “judges by the consequences”, Israelis “judge by the intention”. Even the intention of “some rabbis and Knesset members”, however, is clearly very destructive, with hatred for Arabs being expressed “in ways that provide legitimation to hatred”. Moreover, there are “entire generations” which have now been “raised believing in [such] religious and ultra-nationalist views”. Even more “worrisome”, she argues, is the fact that punishment for incitement to hatred is “lacking in Israeli society” today, partly due to the fact that such incitement has found a home in the current nationalist government.

Israel initially derived a significant part of its legitimacy from the UN’s approval of the 1947 partition plan, and subsequently from its “democratic institutions”. The building of “highly anti-modern institutions in wanting to create a Jewish democracy” and the creation of “deep ethnic inequalities between different ethnic groups”, however, “blocked universalist thinking”, and thus undermined the whole legitimacy of the Zionist project. Illouz asserts that “Jewishness has hijacked democracy and its contents”, making the school curriculum more religious and expelling foreign workers “because Shas party members were afraid non-Jews would inter-marry with Jews”. The most worrying element of this phenomenon, however, is the fact that “human rights are thought of as being left-wing… because [they] presuppose that Jews and non-Jews are equal”.

According to Illouz, the “voice of the extreme right is much louder and clearer than it was before”, and is “not ashamed” to persecute dissenters and “people who dare express compassion for the other side”. She insists that “the real danger to Israel and its sustainability comes from within”. In order for Israel to secure its own continued existence in the future, it needs to realise that “fascist and racist elements are no less a security threat than the outside enemies”. As long as Netanyahu gives “such obvious signs that he [is] not interested in a political process”, however, there will continue to be an “increasingly large group of people who really think that they can subdue the Palestinian population and sustain a regime where Israel keeps dominating them”. Today, government propaganda has successfully convinced Israelis that their “bad living conditions” have nothing to do with “the amount of resources invested in the settlements and in the army”. One significant step towards a resolution to the ‘Palestinian Question’, therefore, would be to combat the force of this propaganda, ending the insensitivity of Israeli society “not only to the suffering of others, but also to its own suffering”. [75]

Following on from Illouz’s explanation of how Israel has gradually lost legitimacy, it is worth looking at the life of respected Jewish historian Tony Judt. A left-wing Zionist in his youth, Judt’s eyes were opened up to the ‘anachronistic’ qualities of Zionism in the late 1960s. The Holocaust, for him, ought to have been “a force for political cosmopolitanism”, but Zionists reacted to the horrific event in a very different way. The “eventual myopia of contemporary Zionism”, according to an article about Judt in Dissent Magazine, “was the conviction that this memory [of the Holocaust] could only be enshrined through an exclusionary nation-state”. In these words, the ethnic exclusion in Zionist Israel is presented as a clear obstacle for the country’s legitimacy as a modern, democratic state. In order to avoid the hatred and repression that were present in fascist states in the first half of the twentieth century, states must uphold the rights of all human beings – inside or outside of their borders and regardless of ethnicities or religious beliefs. As has been seen in this essay, however, Zionist Israel does not uphold these rights. Therefore, in order for the state of Israel to survive, it must immediately begin to alter its behaviour in accordance with human rights protocols. [76]

The Haredim “Strike a Powerful Blow at the Ideological Underpinnings” of Zionism

Another internal issue that the Israeli state will have to deal with is its brewing conflict with the Haredi community, which remains “staunchly opposed to the Zionist state for religious, ethical and political reasons”. Tensions are rising in part because Netanyahu’s nationalist government is seeking to “end the religious exemption of Haredi youth from serving in Israel’s colonial armed forces”. Unlike “so-called ‘ultra-Orthodox’ sects… [which] support Zionist colonialism and bless the military”, the Haredim believe “militarism corrupts the spirit”, and that it has converted many pro-Israeli Jews into “rabid ethnocentric supporters of a militarist state”. The “state worship” they see is considered to be “a sacrilege comparable to the renegade Jews condemned by Moses for worshipping the Golden Calf”. Many Haredi citizens already boycott elections but, today, “all major Zionist political parties and the ruling colonial regime” have begun to demonise and “incite Israeli hatred against the Haredim”. Seen to be “shirking their patriotic military responsibilities”, they are considered by over a third of Israeli Jews as “the most unpopular group in Israel”. Clearly, this phenomenon presents a real problem for the Haredi community, and it is one they may well need to respond to directly.

The “secular militarist Zionist state and politicians” have a long record of trying to attack the Haredi community’s traditional religious practices in their “drive… to harness a corrupted form of Judaism to serve colonial militarism”. As a result, the Haredim mistrust the Israeli government, believing as they do that military conscription would use “cruel, systematic Zionist brainwashing to ensure” that their children became “efficient (brutal) occupation soldiers”. Another factor separating the Haredim from the Israeli state is that “some Haredim leaders… have declared their support for peaceful resolution of conflicts and denounced Israel’s aggressive military posture”. They have also rejected attempts to “entice them into joining the violent self-styled ‘Jewish’ settlers in brutal land grabs in the West Bank”, preferring instead to build “a better life within their community”. They see their lifestyle as a “righteous alternative to the crass militarism, money laundering, financial speculation, human body part trafficking and real estate swindles rife among the elite Israelis and among sectors of overseas Zionists engaged in procuring multi-billion dollar tributes from the US Treasury”.

All of these differences set the scene for a conflict between the Zionist state and its Haredi community. The Haredim, though, will not give in easily, as they are intent on resisting the “ill effects of what secular Israeli Jews call a “modern education”, full of historical fabrications about the origins of Israel, scientific readings on high tech war-making and “advanced” economic doctrines proclaiming the sacred role of the free market, and justifying the 60% poverty rate among Haredim as “self-induced””. As a result of their criticisms of the Zionist regime, they have been targeted in the streets by nationalists, discriminated against in the workplace, and criticised by “upwardly mobile youth” who claim Haredi youngsters should serve in the army and stop engaging in ““worthless studies” of the Torah”. Nonetheless, amidst the official Zionist attack on the Haredi community’s exemption from military service, “otherwise Zionist-religious parties… have taken up the defense of the Haredim”. A rift in Israeli politics, therefore, could be brewing.

The fact is that Haredi opposition to Israel’s “colonial occupation and regional aggression” acts to “undermine Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights and to call into question the entire apartheid system”. Denying “the legitimacy of the idea of a Jewish police state based on force, violence, torture and disappearance of political prisoners”, they question the idea of “Jewish supremacy” and “strike a powerful blow at the ideological underpinnings of the overseas activity” of Zionist activists. Zionism for the Haredim is seen as a “fusion of Jewish chauvinism”, “religious rituals”, and “tribal deification” which is “counterposed to… [the] Ten Commandments”. And, as they represent “10% of the Israeli population and a far greater percentage of military age youth”, they have the power to “sharply limit the scope of future Zionist wars”. As a consequence, the “Israeli-Zionist elite” has demonised the Haredim as “‘backward’, illiterate, [and] freeloaders”. The “colonial expansionist imperative” means that Zionist parties desperately need to end Haredi exemptions, especially when we consider that the Haredim will probably “double their percentage of the Israeli population over the next two decades”. Haredi leaders, however, have threatened to “engage in massive civil disobedience if the Zionists impose conscription” on them.

Having looked at the tension between the Haredim and Zionists in Israel, it is clear that they are a thorn in the side of the country’s governing elite. If this “traditional and deeply religious movement” can unite with “the world’s modern secular anti-imperialist movements” and Israel’s Arab population, they could form a significant force of opposition to continuing Zionist occupation of Palestinian territories. With both the Haredim and Arabs in Israel facing “increasing police harassment, discrimination, religious persecution and rising levels of poverty”, it could be just a matter of time before opposition within Israel itself leads to a significant shift in the tone of the Israeli government. If not, tensions could easily turn into something resembling a civil war. [77]

Israel Resists Peace

Meanwhile, inside the Israeli government, the Foreign Ministry has “advised Prime Minister Netanyahu not to cooperate with any UN investigation into war crimes”. This tactic, however, will not necessarily stop prosecution. [78] As a result, the IDF “high command… has begun to make preparations for legal battles and anticipated war crimes charges in international forums”. [79] As outlined by Manal Tellawi in Part 1, though, the case against Israel is clear, and with Palestine set to “finally accede to the Rome Statute in the near future”, the country will soon be able to file a case with the ICC. Moreover, the UN Human Rights Commission has already “voted to establish an investigation” into Israeli war crimes in the recent attack on Gaza. It seems like the international community is now in favour of justice for the hundreds upon hundreds of civilians killed in Gaza and, if it follows through with its promise to investigate Israeli crimes, the region will move significantly closer to peace. [78]

One significant obstacle to peace, however, may well be Israel’s demand for Palestinian militants to disarm. As the State of Israel is not willing to ‘disarm’ itself, however, it is unlikely that the occupied territories will be prepared to give up their own right to self-defence and resistance against the occupying forces. Even though Israel promises to allow destroyed infrastructure in Gaza to be rebuilt if militants disarm, the prospect of a continued blockade is so unattractive that they are sure to reject the offer. Moreover, a demand for disarmament has “no connection to international law”, and will be seen by many Gazans as making their territory even more vulnerable to Israeli attacks – something they are not prepared to do having lost so many of their family members and neighbours in the latest invasion. [80]

The conditions that Hamas demanded for a 10-year ceasefire (and which it offered after two weeks of fighting), meanwhile, were “very reasonable” and “in line with what many international experts as well as the United Nations have asked for” for a number of years. Many are economic points, including lifting the siege (which is illegal under international law), establishing a “seaport and airport under U.N. supervision” (already provided for in the Agreement on Movement and Access (AMA) signed in 2005), expanding the fishing zone (to deal with problems of overfishing and heavy pollution), and the revitalization of Gaza’s industrial zone. Many in Gaza share the sentiment that “either this situation really improves or it is better to just die”, and these economic points aim to address that very situation.

Other demands, including the “withdrawal of Israeli tanks from the Gaza border” (releasing the 85% of Gaza’s arable land that is currently in Israel’s “Access Restricted Areas”); the release of Palestinian prisoners detained in June; an end to Israeli interference in “the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah”; and eased access to Al Aqsa Mosque are also sensible conditions. However, Israel, at least under its current leadership, is not willing to relinquish control over Gaza or the West Bank. The continuing Israeli embargo of direct negotiations with Hamas (as a ‘terrorist organisation’), therefore, is necessary to impede such a process. “Legitimizing the Palestinian unity [government] is something the Israeli government is avoiding like the plague as it would push forward their quest for justice in the international arena”.

Although sensible conditions have been put forward by Hamas, the Israeli government will continue to “feel legitimized to keep refusing negotiations for a real truce with Hamas” as long as it does not feel the force of international pressure. Hamas does indeed resort to indiscriminate violence that targets civilians, but “so does Israel – no matter how sophisticated its weaponry is”. The two sides both consider each other violent enemies, but that is precisely why negotiations are necessary. In their absence, fighting will continue endlessly until one side is completely destroyed. If such talks take place, therefore, both parties have to be treated equally. If Israel continues to feel it can get away with its war crimes and its flagrant violations of international law, it will simply continue to see no reason to seek a long-term, peaceful solution to the conflict. [81]

Key Obstacles for Progress

If Israel does decide to take peaceful negotiations seriously, though, the following issues will all need to be on the table. Firstly, Jerusalem must not be subject to politics, as it contains both “Jewish and Muslim (and Christian) holy sites”. Israeli communities must stop building up in and around the city, and there must be a neutral government there that allows religious freedom of movement. Secondly, the borders of the West Bank must be established, and an agreement could only allow Israel to absorb post-1967 settlements if it exchanged that land for unpopulated Israeli land. If it doesn’t do this, it will need to accept that settlers will either have to move to Israel or become citizens of a future Palestinian state.

Thirdly, the “seven million Palestinian refugees” whose “descendants fled or were expelled from what is today Israel” must be either given the “right to return” – which would make Jews a minority in Israel – or financial restitution. Finally, issues of security must be resolved. For Palestinians to truly be protected, they must have their own state, but the Israeli right wing in particular fears that an independent Palestine “could turn hostile” and “launch attacks on Israelis”. To solve this issue, Palestinians would likely have to allow the presence of an “international peacekeeping force”, as they would almost certainly reject any promise to do with permanent de-militarisation.

With the upper hand that it has, Israel has two main choices – one of which must be taken to change the present situation. It can unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank and end its blockade on Gaza (which the current nationalist government would never do), allowing the formation of a Palestinian state, or it can annex the occupied territories. The latter, of course, would mean either abandoning the idea of a Jewish-majority state (which is basically against everything the Zionists have fought for in the last century) or denying full rights to Palestinian citizens in an “apartheid-style state”. Sensible solutions exist but, under the current Israeli government at least, it seems like the final option is the current preference. [12]

The Need for Empathy

The current solution sought by the Israeli government, however, is only likely to lead to more and more hatred, suffering, and death. Journalist Asmaa al-Ghoul perhaps summarises the effect of Israel’s aggression on Gazans in the most effective way. Born in a refugee camp in Rafah in 1982, she has experienced first-hand what life is like in Gaza. “If it is Hamas that you hate”, she tells Israel, “let me tell you that the people you are killing have nothing to do with Hamas. They are women, children, men and senior citizens”. She affirms that Israeli soldiers “have now created thousands — no, millions — of Hamas loyalists, for we all become Hamas if Hamas, to you, is women, children and innocent families”. For Asmaa, the fact is that, if Israel really wanted to destroy Hamas, killing civilians was never the way to go about it. If attempts to justify innocent deaths because of pro-Israeli sentiments are difficult enough to understand, trying to save Israel by encouraging it to perpetrate horrors that will, without a doubt, create even more hatred towards Israel (and even more resistance against it), is just plain irrational. [82]

We must remember that both sides in a conflict always have reasons for feeling as they do, and any analysis of the situation must take that into consideration. In order to stop the bloodshed and hatred in this case, the first move must be for Palestinians to gain their freedom and be assured safety. Israeli communities in particular will need to work hard to counter the violent rhetoric of their political leaders if this is to happen, though. An eventual solution clearly lies in a change of attitude and behaviour. The hunger for power of politicians and those who fund them must not be allowed to take control of politics, in Israel or in any county. Citizens must take a stand against war, and work together to solve their problems – something that will require a lot of empathy, patience, and hard work. But it is possible.

The Path Forward – Sanctions and Boycotts

For now, renowned Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert says the solution is simple. “Number one”, he says, “stop the bombing, and that means stop Israel from bombing civilians and indiscriminately hitting families. Number two, lift the siege. And number three, find a political solution”. [6] In order for these things to happen, however, the Israeli government must embark on a different path. From what experts have said on the subject, though, it seems that this will not happen unless pressure is exerted on Israel. International pressure is necessary, therefore, and that will come from the world’s citizens (as official political bodies have been little short of useless up to this point). Firstly, we must condemn the civilian murders in Gaza, and then, we must remember them. The ‘Palestinian Question’ is not easy to solve, but if we organise in our own communities and countries, to put pressure on our ‘governments’ to end the arms trade with Israel and to support a boycott of Israeli products, we can do our part to ensure justice comes for all of the innocent civilians who have been killed. And, if our ‘governments’ refuse to cooperate in this search for justice, as might be expected, we must expose their complicity in the massacre and occupation.

Israeli historian Ilan Pappé has said that all of those who want justice for the Palestinian people “need clear targets”, [83] and that supporting the BDS campaign is one of them. [84] He also insists that we need to combat the idea that the boycott is “against Israel for being Jewish, or against the Jews for being in Israel”. [83] A future solution to the situation in Palestine, he says, must take into account the millions of Jews in Israel, and seek to understand their cause. However, with nationalist-backed settlement expansion in the West Bank, the possibility of a two-state solution to the ‘Palestinian Question’ is a “vanishing possibility on the ground” and an “increasingly impossible political solution”. This is partly why the “Fatah-led Palestinian Authority” lost support (and why Hamas gained support), because it was seen to be weakened by constant abortive attempts to deal with an Israeli government that is unlikely to ever “agree to withdrawal to the 1967 borders” voluntarily. [19] Pappé insists that ending “the oppressive occupationis the first step towards a solution, and this can only be achieved through “a sustained boycott and divestment campaign” targeted at the Israeli government. [83]

If the Israeli right can be weakened, the possibility of dialogue, and an eventual two-state solution, is likely to increase. However, the longer term goal, for a lasting peace, may well lie, as many Palestinians believe, with “a single, democratic, multi-faith state”, similar to when “Muslims, Christians and Jews lived side by side” in the region under the Ottoman Empire. For any type of progress, though, there is no better time than now to make a definitive push for Palestinian statehood and self-determination. With the “barbarity” of Israel’s recent attack on Gaza visible to the whole world, the state “now stands more isolated internationally than ever before”, and with more pressure, it could well be forced to alter its aggressive behaviour. [19]

The fact is that conscientious objectors have refused to serve in the IDF, and pacifist marches have taken place in Haifa and elsewhere, often in the face of brutal repression. These and other brave Israeli citizens have stood up against war, and have called on the international community to back their cause. People around the world have also begun to open their eyes to the manipulation and lies of the corporate media, with demonstrations reaching levels unseen since before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Having defeated fascism in the Second World War, resisted imperialism in Vietnam, and ended Apartheid in South Africa, humanity can also have an impact now in the Palestinian search for self-determination. Through popular organisation in the streets and through boycotts against the corporations that support Israel, we can support our Palestinian brothers and sisters and bring international indifference to an end. And, with the USA and the UK (Israel’s closest allies) facing elections next year, this could be the perfect time to force Palestine onto their election agendas. Just like there was a turning point in the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa, international action could, and should, now force a turning point regarding the ‘Palestinian Question’ – and each one of us has a role to play.

7) Summary

As this essay has shown, Israel has committed horrific, unjustifiable actions in Palestine, and not only in its most recent attack on Gaza. By analysing the arguments made by well-respected professionals from across the globe, I have aimed to leave it completely evident that Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza, and that its nationalist Zionist government is almost entirely to blame. Another aim, however, has been simply to encourage the reader to consider the context of the ‘Palestinian Question’ before referring incorrectly to ‘two equal sides’. The truth is that the Zionist establishment of Israel wants land that belongs to Palestinians, and has used its financial and military superiority to achieve that aim bit by bit since before the state’s official creation in 1948, all with the support of Western powers. Palestinian civilians have always been on the back foot, and their allies (like Egypt) have been powerless to help them. In fact, some of their supposed friends have gradually abandoned them as their bureaucratic leaderships have sought to attract foreign investment from pro-Israeli capitalists.

Hamas, created decades after the Israeli State, should not be seen as its main enemy. Israel’s true nemesis is Zionism itself. As a nationalist, ethnocentric political ideology, it can never truly embrace democracy, freedom, or equality. These values simply cannot coexist with apartheid, occupation, and discrimination. As mentioned in the introduction, and seen throughout the essay, Zionism represents the worst excesses of capitalism. It represents war, hatred, and oppression – all of which are based on the creation of a different, inferior ‘other’. And Israel’s more moderate capitalist allies in the West are the enablers of its fascist policies. Their support for Israel’s actions shows that, while they speak of democracy, freedom, and equality at home, they do not truly support these values. Instead, they are happy to be complicit in Israel’s exercises in ethnic cleansing.

Supporting Palestine in its quest for self-determination is fighting for justice. It is empathising with each other no matter what our superficial differences may be, and realising that we are all human beings. It is realising that we can change the world for the better if we unite for a common cause. And it is showing that the oppressed of the world have immense power and will not be oppressed forever.

We have studied the reasons for Palestinian resistance. We have seen people take to the streets to oppose Israel’s massacre of Gazans. And we have heard the voices of people who criticise the support that Israel (guilty of war crimes and violations of international law as it is) receives from capitalist nations in the West. Now, we must act: opposing the support Israel receives from our own countries; boycotting companies that support it; and organising to show people around the world that we care about freedom, justice, and peace. That is the task that lies ahead of us. And that is the best hope for a better future.


Written by Oso Sabio using quotes from the following sources:

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[11], and


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[29] and

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[37],,, and


[39] and

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[43] and

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[49] and (also see



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[54] and

[55] and







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[81] and


[83] and

[84] and

See the footnote to this essay at


About Ed Sykes

Independent journalist. Co-founder of Phoenix Media Co-operative. Author of Rojava: An Alternative. Ex-Canary editor and writer (2015-2020). Aka 'Oso Sabio' - see @ososabiouk on Twitter.
This entry was posted in Anarchism, Assassination, Autonomy, Bourgeois Democracy, capitalism, Conservative Party, Democracy, dignity, Education, Europe, Exploitation, Gaza, Imperialism, Impunity, independence, Injustice, International Relations, Israel, justice, Latin America, Libertarian Communism, Murder, Neoliberalism, Oppression, Palestine, politics, rebellion, revolution, socialism, The Media, Trade Unions, UK, USA, War and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Gaza: A Capitalist Genocide (Essay)

  1. carol stone says:

    absolutely brilliant !

  2. Chazmania says:

    Several things i think are missed ..One the role that the CIA and Mossad and mi5 are playing to undermine every single thing in the middle east at home and around the world.. You talk as if the USA had an independent ability to resist Israel when they are caught in the evil embrace of a Zionist mafia so ruthless and insidious that NO USA president would last a week going up against them without a bullet to the head…and if you think because you cant grasp that deeper problem it does not exist and everyone who KNOWS it at this point is a conspiracy NUT then you are also joining the ranks of the useless talking heads and nothing more then another one of their useful idiots. Don’t take it personally you have a lot of company these days..
    this was a great article and so many levels deconstruction g the mountain’s of bull shit sold by Israel and the USA but it does not get to the real CORE of the problem of the financial elite and the dynasty family’s that run them.. they always say follow the money and guess what the trail has an end that NONE of the people writing about it seem brave enough to venture all the way…
    History is littered with the bodies of people that have tried…… No one is willing to take one for the human team anymore for the chance of saving us from the Opulent sociopaths that now run the world…….But yea we have been trained not to look behind that curtain at the hideous naked emperor and his new outfits….

    • Oso Sabio says:

      Thanks for your comment. I could have continued writing for much longer, but I think I’ve covered the most important points, including the fact that Israel is not alone. As you’ve said, it is backed by the capitalist powers of the West, and that is the main point that I think people need to be aware of.

  3. Pingback: Gaza: “A Ceasefire Is Not Enough” | Oso Sabio speaks…

  4. Oso Sabio says: “Almost 10% of Gaza’s factories have been put out of action, said the Palestinian Federation of Industries. Most other industrial plants have halted production during the conflict, causing losses estimated at more than $70m (£42m), said the union of Palestinian industries. The UN’s food and agriculture organisation (FAO) said about 42,000 acres of croplands had sustained substantial direct damage and half of Gaza’s poultry stock has been lost due to direct hits or lack of care as access to farmlands along the border with Israel became impossible.”

  5. Pingback: Gaza: A Capitalist Genocide (Key Points) | Oso Sabio speaks…

  6. Pingback: Israel: The Power of Indoctrination | Resistance Is Fertile

  7. Pingback: Gaza: A Capitalist Genocide by Oso Sabio | Israel Genocide?

  8. I quote ‘Rockets from Israeli resistance groups, meanwhile, kept flying into Israel from Gaza, and Netanyahu’s government ordered the murder of five Hamas members in Gaza on the 7th of July. This action provoked the firing of the first Hamas rockets in nineteen months. In response, Netanyahu exploited the popular anger in Israel over the teenagers’ deaths and responded with ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in Gaza on July 8th. On July 17th, he sent ground forces into Gaza, supposedly in order to destroy tunnels that could be used to cross into Israel.’
    This para doesn’t make sense to me. And the precursor to attack on Gaza seems over-simplified. Bibi pretended the 3 kidnapped israelis were alive and started a ‘bring our boys home’ campaign while he knew that they were dead. Also at the beginning of the assault the tunnels weren’t mentioned. That came a few weeks later. As I recall.

    • Oso Sabio says:

      Duly noted… The whole point of the essay was to try to make the issues easier to understand, but obviously in such a process certain pieces of information get unintentionally omitted. I will try to update the essay in the next few weeks. Thanks for your comments

    • Oso Sabio says:

      Also, the first sentence should clearly have read ‘Palestinian’ resistance groups rather than Israeli ones. That was simply a typo.

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