BY JORDAN KUSHNER
The political establishment nationally and locally has fallen into lockstep in its unquestioning support for anything Israel does. The military attack by Palestinian militants breaching the supposedly secure fence locking them into Gaza on Oct. 7, which included mass killings and hostage takings of noncombatants, has sparked moral outrage that drowns out any concern about Palestinian civilians or rational discussion about the justification for Israel’s murderous retaliatory actions. The selective moral outrage evinces the racist and colonialist double standards in establishment “morality” and is a deliberate cover for Israel’s much greater atrocities. The real moral outrage is the outright support for, or at minimum the failure of the vast majority of politicians to speak in opposition to the ongoing Israeli apartheid and genocide of Palestinians.
Major human rights organizations have recognized through detailed investigation and findings that Israel is perpetrating apartheid, a crime against humanity, against the Palestinian people. Human Rights Watch, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” April 27, 2021, https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid-and-persecution; Amnesty International, “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians” Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity,” 2022, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde15/5141/2022/en/; B’Tselem, “A regime of Jewish Supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is Apartheid,” Jan. 12, 2021, https://www.btselem.org/publications/fulltext/202101_this_is_apartheid; Al-Haq, “Israeli Apartheid: Tool of Zionist Settler Colonialism,” Nov. 29, 2022, https://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/20931.html.
The use of the term “genocide” is more controversial but is becoming more widely accepted in light of Israel’s current ongoing destruction and massacres directed at the entire population of Gaza, and continued massacres/pogroms on the West Bank. See, for example, https://jewishcurrents.org/a-textbook-case-of-genocide; https://theintercept.com/2023/10/19/israel-gaza-biden-genocide-war-crimes/; https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2023/10/damning-evidence-of-war-crimes-as-israeli-attacks-wipe-out-entire-families-in-gaza/.
There is no denying the horror of the massacre on Oct. 7, but Zionist propaganda pervading the U.S. media conveniently pretends that history began on that date. Israel has brutally oppressed Palestinians for the past 75 years. Gaza is commonly referred to as an open-air prison holding 2.2 million people. It is literally walled in. A more precise definition would be concentration camp since it imprisons people based on their ethnicity rather than for committing any crime. Israel periodically conducted bombings/massacres in Gaza over the past two decades, at one point described by an Israeli official as “mowing the lawn.” Since Oct. 7, Israel has killed many more civilians in Gaza than those killed by Hamas. So far there have been more than 5000 Palestinian casualties versus 1400 Israeli casualties on Oct. 7, with Israel still planning a ground invasion. Note that most of the population of Gaza are refugees – their parents or grandparents had once lived in Israel and the Israelis drove them from their homes.
The Palestinian prisoners of Gaza have not been permitted any legitimate means of resisting Israeli oppression. Decades of nonviolent efforts or lower-level violent actions have not gotten anywhere. During 2018-19, Palestinians held weekly nonviolent protests at the perimeter fence trying to challenge the blockade. The Israeli response was to shoot the protestors with live ammunition, killing more than 200 and injuring tens of thousands. https://www.un.org/unispal/document/two-years-on-people-injured-and-traumatized-during-the-great-march-of-return-are-still-struggling/#:~:text=Israeli%20forces%20responded%20by%20shooting,8%2C800%20children%20have%20been%20injured.
There have been ongoing international efforts to pressure Israel to stop violating Palestinian rights through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). The response by Israel and its network of supporters to this nonviolent tactic has been to assert its vast political influence to get laws passed in most U.S. states and in other countries to make the campaign illegal. As JFK said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Recognition of these realities does not justify condoning Hamas’ actions but does compel understanding the cause – decades of brutal and systematic Israeli oppression. A justifiable analogy is Nat Turner’s slave rebellion. I don’t think anyone would celebrate the killing of dozens of women and children. I am sure that if the contemporary media existed at the time, Turner and his followers would have been labeled terrorists, monsters, animals, etc. But considered from a historical perspective, no one condemns Nat Turner. Everyone recognizes the underlying problem was the institution of slavery. History will inevitably recognize that the underlying cause of the violence by Hamas and the much greater violence by the Israeli military was Israeli apartheid and genocide.
Finally, people need to recognize the insidiousness of Zionists’ invocation of Hamas to justify every one of Israel’s atrocities and to refuse to make any concessions to the Palestinians. Israel was instrumental in supporting Hamas at its outset in order to create political divisions in the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and to have a convenient excuse not to make any concessions. https://theintercept.com/2018/02/19/hamas-israel-palestine-conflict/ This has remained Israeli policy. https://www.timesofisrael.com/for-years-netanyahu-propped-up-hamas-now-its-blown-up-in-our-faces/ If Hamas is a monster, it is a monster of Israel’s creation. Israel’s need to create political justification for oppressing and ultimately eliminating Palestinians was more important than the safety of its citizens.
Let’s demand that our elected officials support an immediate cease-fire; stop military, financial and political support for Israel; and recognize Palestinian rights.
In light of the recent violence that has left hundreds dead and thousands injured and homeless in Gaza, the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) is providing vital medical care through volunteer missions and treatment and essential supplies to those who have been tragically impacted by the devastating bombings. Please donate now to have an immediate impact on the lives of children in need. https://pcrf1.app.neoncrm.com/forms/gaza-relief