The war crimes being committed by the Israeli government in its current assault on Gaza are reminiscent of 2008’s brutal “Operation Cast Lead.” The bombing has not spared hospitals, UN compounds, schools or homes for the disabled. A huge percentage of the dead and injured are children. This is collective punishment on a vast, criminal scale, disproportionate to any actual threat posed by the largely inaccurate rockets being fired into Israel.
There are well over a thousand dead now in Gaza. Many more have been injured and a generation of children traumatized. Hundreds of buildings have been destroyed. Infrastructure has been devastated once again.
As in previous conflicts, the presence of genocide advocates like Avigdor Lieberman, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Naftali Bennett, Minister of the Economy, in the government preclude any right Israel might claim to wage war on Palestinians. Such a government, riddled with genocide advocates, has only one duty: to be overthrown as quickly and as completely as possible.
The real spark that set off this current round of fighting was the formation on June 2 of a Palestinian unity government, agreed to by Hamas in a concession to reality. The Islamist organization has been weakened by the turns of regional politics in the wake of the Arab Spring upheavals. Having lost patrons to Syria’s revolution (Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and his patron, Iran) and Egypt’s counter-revolution (former president Mohamed Morsi) has left Hamas relatively isolated, supported mainly by U.S. allies Qatar and Turkey.
What is more important is that the formation of a unity government was a revolutionary demand raised by Palestinian youth and revolutionaries as part of Arab Spring: “The people want the downfall of the factions.” The masses well understood that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority were capable of representing their demands, and that the struggle between them was meant to give both room for continual sell-outs and counter-revolution.
While the Israelis have taken serious casualties in the ground incursion, the one-sided battle testifies to Hamas’ weakness. Military weakness, for one, as their arsenal of rockets has not proven to be any kind of credible military threat; and ideological weakness, as they have used what rockets they have in random attacks on civilian targets, rather than in combat. Hamas has well-trained fighters, motivated to defend their own territory, and an intelligent use of that firepower would have been wiser than crude attacks on civilians, attacks that do nothing but add to the general atmosphere of inhumanity and counter-revolution.
It has to be understood that 2014 is not 2008. The vision of new possibilities raised by the revolutions of the Arab Spring posed new ground for addressing the old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Revolution compels a rethinking of Israeli history (and not only by Israelis) all the way back to the founding of the state. The mere hint that this kind of radical rethinking might happen gave the Israeli Right all the incentive it needed for the current massacres, meant to bury such ideas forever.
It also has to be understood that 2014 is not 2011. The genocidal counter-revolution waged by Syria’s Assad has cut through all ideological illusions. It has revealed the essence of bourgeois society, and the ultimate relation of counter-revolution to revolution. What has become clear is that there really is no compromise possible. While Netanyahu’s government isn’t strictly comparable to Assad’s regime, it is also uncompromising in its attack on all progressive possibilities.
The Israeli strike at the Palestinian unity government is only one example. Another is the continuing effort to render any two-state solution impossible through the illegal expansion of West Bank settlements. This promotion of naked criminality and brutality has devastated both Palestinian and Israeli society. Netanyahu has declared the two-state solution to be dead, and his neo-fascist Cabinet members openly express their desire to annex the entire West Bank. Gazans exist for them only to be killed or dispersed. The West Bank protests against the Gaza massacre have been met with extreme brutality, killing 10 more Palestinian civilians as of now.
Even protests within Israel itself have met with violence from Kahanist thugs. It testifies to the dismal retrogression in Israeli society due to the continuing occupation.
This is brutality acted out on a very large scale. It adds nothing to the understanding one could glean in looking at the murders of the youths that led up to this moment. The killers of the three Israeli teens, Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrach, and Gilad Shaar, whose deaths were blamed without evidence on Hamas, committed a terrible crime that opened the door to Netanyahu’s assault on Gaza. The monstrous revenge killing of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was forced to drink gasoline and then set on fire, alive, foretold the massacre to come.
In spite of all, it remains the fact that the world has had that vision of revolutionary possibility. It is what motivates much of the support for Gaza that has brought thousands into the streets, all over the world. Even the Israeli government has begun to realize that it is fighting an idea whose time has come–the idea of freedom–that calls for the uprooting of all oppressive relations, and the creation of a new human world. It is a struggle that is taking place all across the globe today.
for the Resident Editorial Board
July 28, 2014