On Wednesday 23 July, at the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, top UN official Navi Pillay was forced to declare that in shelling Gazan hospitals there had been a “strong possibility” that Israel had committed war crimes.
“Strong possibility.” Nicely put. But it hardly takes an ‘expert’ to realise that war crimes have indeed been perpetrated by Israel on a mass scale. But it certainly does take an ‘expert’ (albeit one suitably acquainted with imperialist hypocrisy and cover-up) to talk it down to the ‘strong possibility’ of these events constituting war crimes – judged, of course, by the UN’s own not-so-accurate moral compass and enshrined in ‘it-doesn’t-apply-to-us’ international law.
How can anybody who has seen the terrifying photographs of children with their heads blown apart deny the fascist and wicked behaviour of the Israeli zionists? Is Ms Pillay’s sense of smell so poor that she can only pick up the mere whiff of war crimes? Despite her sick condemnations of Hamas and the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation, even such a lame and shameful UN rebuke as this was enough to bring the cowardly Tzipi Livni (Israel’s ‘justice’ minister, would you believe!) scurrying out from her bunker to declare that the UN Human Rights Council was “anti-Israel”!
Not to be outdone, Phillip Hammond, the new British foreign secretary, declared that the resolution from the UN was “fundamentally unbalanced”! The only thing fundamentally unbalanced is the odds stacked against the Palestinian people, faced as they are with a barrage of chemical and ‘regular’ weapons, a land, air and sea offensive and a total siege upon their territory.
This hypocrisy knows no bounds and these modern-day mass murderers cannot be reasoned with – only armed resistance will tame their lust for blood.
Just a few weeks after the formation and recognition of the new Palestinian unity government, Israel cynically managed to turn the murder of three settler youths by persons unknown (see below) into an all-out assault on Gaza and the Palestinians. The purpose of this assault is clearly to bring division and disunity between Fatah and Hamas and to destroy the new unity government; to weaken the Palestinian resistance and to mete out sadistic collective punishment to all the people of occupied Palestine for their continuing resistance.
The Israeli euphemism for this regular massacre (the third Israeli attack on such a huge scale within the last six years) is “mowing the grass”, and it defines the policy of Israel towards keeping Hamas in check and curbing the strength of the Palestinian resistance generally, which still refuses to submit to Israeli occupation.
On 12 June, three young Israeli settlers were kidnapped and later found murdered. It took Israel no time at all to declare Hamas responsible, although Israel could present no evidence to substantiate this claim when requested by the UN (producing evidence is sooo “anti-Israel”).
In the two weeks that followed, operation ‘Brothers Keeper’ was launched by Israel, during which it abducted in the region of 600 Palestinians (including 12 parliamentarians), raided 1,500 homes and murdered nine Palestinians – including a toddler, a 15-year-old boy, a 22-year-old man shot in the head in his refugee camp and a 78-year-old who died of terror as Israel raided Arrub camp on 25 June.
In the atmosphere of hatred and murder that the Israelis and their ‘Defence Force’ were doing their utmost to stir up, a 16-year-old child named Mohammed Abu Khdeir was abducted, beaten over the head and burnt alive by a gang of settlers. The pathologist found smoke in the boy’s lungs – evidence that he was still breathing whilst he was set on fire – and his charred remains were handed back to his parents for burial whilst the Israelis planned the next assault.
In a challenging and hard-hitting article in The Hindu, Susan Abulhawa was not scared to buck the trend that permeated the reporting of this unfolding misery amongst her journalistic colleagues. Her column exposed the sickening duplicity of such ‘reporters’ and ‘journalists’, who from the very beginning had been bending over backwards to make excuses for Israel as children were murdered and the crimes began to escalate.
“It seems the entire country is calling for Palestinian blood, reminiscent of American southern lynching rallies that went after black men whenever a white person turned up dead … [Nor] does it matter that these Israeli teens were settlers living in illegal jewish-only colonies that were built on land stolen by the state mostly from Palestinian owners from the village of el-Khader.
“A huge portion of the settlers there are Americans, mostly from New York, like one of the murdered teens, who exercise jewish privilege to hold dual citizenship; to have an extra country no matter where they’re from, one in their own homeland and one in ours, at the same time that the indigenous Palestinians fester in refugee camps, occupied ghettos, or boundless exile.
“Palestinian children are assaulted or murdered every day and barely do their lives register in [the] western press. While Palestinian mothers are frequently blamed when Israel kills their children, accused of sending them to die or neglecting to keep them at home away from Israeli snipers, no one questions Rachel Frankel, the mother of one of the murdered settlers.
“She is not asked to comment on the fact that one of the missing settlers is a soldier who likely participated in the oppression of his Palestinian neighbours. No one asks why she would move her family from the United States to live in a segregated, supremacist colony established on land confiscated from the native non-jewish owners. Certainly no one dares accuse her of therefore putting her children in harm’s way.
“No mother should have to endure the murder of her child. No mother or father. That does not only apply to jewish parents. The lives of our children are no less precious and their loss are no less shattering and spiritually unhinging. But there is a terrible disparity in the value of life here in the eyes of the state and the world, where Palestinian life is cheap and disposable, but jewish life is sacrosanct.
“This exceptionalism and supremacy of jewish life is a fundamental underpinning of the state of Israel. It pervades their every law and protocol, and is matched only by their apparent contempt and disregard for Palestinian life.
“Whether through laws that favour jews for employment and educational opportunities, or laws that allow the exclusion of non-jews from buying or renting among jews, or endless military orders that limit the movement, water consumption, food access, education, marriage possibilities, and economic independence, or these periodic upendings of Palestinian civil society, life for non-jews ultimately conforms to the religious edict issued by Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, saying ‘a thousand non-jewish lives are not worth a jew’s fingernail’.” (‘ The searing hypocrisy of the West ’, 1 July 2014)
War crimes in words and deeds – targeting of hospitals and civilians
If anyone was in any doubt as to the open, blatant espousal of inhuman murder and torture, there is really no need to go much further than the floor of the Israeli Knesset, where the murder in their hearts is not couched by any honey on their lips. Here follows a quote from the deputy speaker of the Knesset Moshe Feiglin:
“The blood of a dialysis patient in Gaza is not redder than the blood of our IDF [Israeli army] soldiers who will, God forbid, need to enter [Gaza] … I call on the prime minister who we all support in this difficult hour, before we send the IDF into Gaza, we should simply shut down their electricity.” (Quoted in ‘ Cut off power to Gazas dialysis patient – Knesset deputy speaker urges ’ by Ali Abunimah, electronicintifada.net, 11 July 2014)
As each unspeakable act, or indeed incitement to further unspeakable acts unfolded in early July, activists from the ISM (International Solidarity Movement, who send human shields and observers into the Gaza strip) began to send in reports of barbaric acts of cruelty as Israel pounded and destroyed hospitals, targeted schools, murdered civilians and terrorised Gaza.
“El-Wafa hospital has already been struck by five Israeli missiles on 11 July, and international activists have been maintaining a constant presence ever since …
“The patients were not evacuated; there is nowhere for them to go. The entire Shajajia area where the hospital is located, with a population of around 100,000 inhabitants, has also been ordered to evacuate, as well as other areas around the Gaza Strip. For so many people to move to other areas cannot be done, and without shelter they can only rely on God and their luck.
“During the night’s bombardment, when el-Wafa hospital shook several times with explosions, suspicions were raised that the hospital had been hit. In fact, the building close by, el-Wafa Elderly Nursing Home was shelled by the Israeli military.
“The upper part of the nursing home was peppered with machine-gun fire and non-explosive grenades penetrated the concrete walls.” (‘ El-Wafa elderly nursing home shelled by the Israeli military ’ by Charlie Andreasson, palsolidarity.org, 16 July 2014)
Gaza’s entire medical establishment has in fact been consistently targeted – with almost every clinic, hospital, ambulance and medically-trained person coming under Israeli fire.
“With so many hospitals already dysfunctional due to attacks by the Israeli Occupational Forces, we are deeply concerned with how to safeguard al-Shifa [Gaza’s biggest and most central] hospital. It is already overwhelmed with wounded and dying people. If Israel continues bombing, patients are going to end up on the street, as there will be nowhere else for them to go. If anything happens, let it be known that the world was forewarned and did nothing to stop this,” said Rina Andolini, a British volunteer currently staying in al-Shifa. (Quoted in ‘ As Israel targets the wounded, international volunteers to stay at al-Shifa hospital ’, palsolidarity.org, 25 July 2014)
To add to the impossible situation for medical staff, Bassam Hamadeen, the head of the health ministry’s maintenance department, has said that: “The enclave’s hospitals suffer from an acute shortage of fuel and electricity, which threatens the lives of the patients.”
“He explained that over the past few days, some hospitals, including Abu Yousef Al-Najjar hospital and the European hospital in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, have been forced to depend on generators for power. He warned these generators could stop soon because of the lack of fuel.
“‘The Al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza is working with one electric generator after the back-up generator crashed when the Israeli army bombed the hospital a few days ago,’ Hamdeen said.
“He noted that four hospitals have been without electricity for four days including Beit Hanoun hospital, Mohammed Al-Dura hospital, Kamal Adwan hospital, and Shifa hospital.
“‘Relying entirely on electric generators has depleted the hospitals’ fuel reserves, which means that these generators could stop working any time soon and consequently stop the hospitals’ medical units including the intensive care units, the operating rooms, the laboratories, X-ray equipment and the emergency units.’
“According to Hamdeen, ‘the ministry is now operating only 35 out of its 75 ambulances due to the lack of fuel’.
“Gaza’s electricity distribution company said Friday that Israel has stopped supplying the Strip with electricity, raising the electricity deficit to 90 percent.
“The company’s director of public relations, Jamal Dardasawi said in a statement ‘the Israeli army gradually suspended electrical power supplies to the Gaza Strip from Israel and Egypt by intentionally targeting the power lines’, adding that Israel destroyed 13 electrical power lines which supply the Strip with power …” (‘ Official -Lack of fuel and electricity may cause humanitarian catastrophe at Gaza hospitals ’, Middle East Monitor, 25 July 2014)
Meanwhile, a report from another journalist highlighted the desperate shortage of water.
“Israeli planes targeted a well located in al-Nasr neighbourhood, west of the city of Gaza, which provides water to about 20,000 people, and the Ali well in al-Zaitoun area, south of the city, which provides water to about 7,000 people. In addition, three main water lines that feed al-Shujaiya and al-Sabra neighbourhoods and provide about 21,000 people with water were also hit.
“This targeting appears to be systematic and its obvious objective is to deprive people of water, the single most important element of daily life, especially during the month of Ramadan.” (‘ Health crisis looms in Gaza after Israel bombs water infrastructure ’ by Ahmed Hadi, english.al-akhbar.com, 17 July 2014)
As these crimes were perpetrated, Jonathan Cook wrote on his blog that,
“Ayelet Shaked, of economics minister Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party, calls on her Facebook page for murdering the mothers of what she terms Palestinian ‘terrorists’ (a very broad concept indeed in current Israeli thinking) so that they cannot give birth to more ‘little snakes’:
“‘They have to die and their houses should be demolished so that they cannot bear any more terrorists. They are all our enemies and their blood should be on our hands. This also applies to the mothers of the dead terrorists …
“‘[The terrorists] are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.’”
“Mordechai Kedar, a lecturer on Arabic literature at Bar Ilan University, believes the sisters and mothers of Palestinian ‘terrorists’ should be raped:
“‘A terrorist, like those who kidnapped the boys [in the West Bank on 12 June] and killed them, the only thing that will deter them, is if they know that either their sister or mother will be raped if they are caught. What can we do? This is the culture that we live in.’
“Note that his university did not reprimand him. They defended his comments:
“‘The purpose was to define the culture of death of the terrorist organisations. Dr Kedar illustrated in his words the bitter reality of the Middle East and the inability of a modern and law-abiding country to fight the terror of suicide bombers.’”
Meanwhile, Cook cited Moshe Feiglin, the aforementioned deputy speaker of the Israeli parliament and a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, urging the Israeli army to kill Palestinians in Gaza indiscriminately and use every means possible to get them to leave:
“[Netanyahu] announces that Israel is about to attack military targets in their area and urges those who are not involved and do not wish to be harmed to leave immediately. Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts … All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’.” (‘ Calls for genocide enter Israeli mainstream’, jonathan-cook.net, 21 July 2014)
Zionism needs these sickening statements to rob the Palestinian people of their humanity and make it easier to behave in such a bestial manner – it is reminiscent of the way in which the Nazis spoke about the Slavs and others, including the jews, and is the language of British colonialism in its most abhorrent and brazen form, unshackled from the niceties that the PR gurus and spin doctors nowadays apply.
Indeed, there is nothing new or essentially Israeli in any of the words or actions of the last weeks, no matter how sickening. Israel is a puppet state; it is an appendage of imperialism, a settler state that can only continue to exist on occupied land with a militaristic, fascistic world outlook. Its behaviour and outlook is the behaviour and outlook of all colonisers – it murders, pillages, robs and terrorises in just the same way as the British, Belgian, French, German and US have done all over the globe.
Without such language to dehumanise its victims, the murders these monsters commit would be seen as all the more appalling by the world’s people. Such is the success of this propaganda that the Israelis are able to even bomb schools, like the UN school in Beit Hanoun that was being used as a refugee centre, and which was shelled on 24 July with barely a whimper of protest from the leaders of the self-proclaimed ‘international community’.
Growing opposition to Israel
Behind the imperialist propaganda offensive, however, there are signs that finance capital is beginning to lose some patience with the Israeli Frankenstein. In an article on worldobserveronline.com, it was reported that Israeli finance minister Yair Lapid warned a group of senior jewish-American businessmen about the danger posed to the Israeli economy by the continuing decline of Israel’s international reputation and its growing pariah status,
“After a top US academics union, ASA, decided to boycott Israeli academics and educational institutions that operate in and support illegal settlements in the West Bank, Dutch pension giant PGGM and Denmark’s Danske Bank also boycotted Israeli banks for the same reason.
“Meanwhile, Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank (DB), has blacklisted the Israeli Hapoalim bank as an ‘unethical company’ due to its funding of illegal jewish settlements in the West Bank, Israel’s Maariv newspaper reported.
“Dutch firm Boskalis Westminster and Italian firm Condote de Agua also withdrew bids to build private seaports in Ashdod and Haifa, fearing political repercussions for working with Israel.
“According to the Israeli Haaretz, they join Spanish companies FCC and Cyes, as well as Germany’s Möbius Bau, who also dropped out of the bidding process months back, citing threats to their business interests in the Middle East.
“Last year, boycotts on products like dates and grapes grown in the occupied Jordan Valley caused a $29m loss for illegal jewish settlers in the region. As reported in the Washington Post, income from exports dropped 14 percent, mainly due to big supermarket chains in Europe deciding to boycott the products.
“David Elhayani, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, told the Washington Post, ‘In effect, today, we are almost not selling to the (western) European market anymore.’
“Zvi Avner, head of the agriculture committee in the Jordan Valley, said that sales of peppers and grapes to western Europe have dropped by about 50 percent and fresh herbs by up to 40 percent.
“In 2009, the UK gradually started labelling or completely boycotting settler products. Together with Scandinavian countries, the UK has made the 550,000 odd illegal jewish settlers in the West Bank very nervous.
“Marks & Spencer, Morrisons and Waitrose are among many British firms to stop selling settler goods in recent years. Germany’s Kaiser supermarket has also made a moral decision against selling settler products.
“Many feel that a trend is slowly starting to develop in the West against Israel, similar to that which brought down the apartheid regime in South Africa.” (‘ Israeli finance minister expresses boycott fears’, 17 July 2014)
Furthermore, the NY Times ran a piece in late June reporting upon an unprecedented action by the US Presbyterian Church (the church of numerous US presidents), which had just voted to divest from three significant firms that support the illegal occupation and settlement programme.
“After passionate debate over how best to help break the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians, the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted on Friday at its general convention to divest from three companies that it says supply Israel with equipment used in the occupation of Palestinian territory.
“The vote, by a count of 310 to 303, was watched closely in Washington and Jerusalem and by Palestinians as a sign of momentum for a movement to pressure Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and to end the occupation, with a campaign known as BDS, for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
“The Presbyterian Church (USA), one of a handful of historic mainline Protestant denominations and the church of many American presidents, is the largest yet to endorse divestment at a church-wide convention, and the vote follows a decade of debate – and a close call at the assembly two years ago, when divestment failed by only two votes …
“The companies the church has targeted for divestment are Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. The church has about $21m invested in them, a spokeswoman said. The church says it has tried for many years to convey its concerns that the companies are profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories by selling it bulldozers, surveillance technology and other equipment.
“Large American jewish organisations lobbied the Presbyterians furiously to defeat a divestment vote, their most determined campaign yet in the 10 years the Presbyterians have considered such a step. More than 1,700 rabbis from all 50 states signed an open letter to the Presbyterian voters, saying that ‘placing all the blame on one party, when both bear responsibility, increases conflict and division instead of promoting peace’.” (‘ Presbyterians vote to divest holdings to pressure Israel’ by Laurie Goodstein, 20 June 2014)
Indeed, so worried have the zionists become about losing the battle for public opinion, that it was recently revealed they are offering scholarships to foreign students who are prepared to take up their cause on social media! (See ‘ Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda’ by Ben Lynfield, Independent, 13 August 2013)
Opposition in parliament
Whilst all three of the main bourgeois parties in Westminster are firmly behind Israeli zionism – as shown both by Philip Hammond’s statement and by the decision of the British government to refuse to sign up to the judgement of the UN Human Rights Commission on the Israeli attacks – there was the rarest of glimpses in a poorly-attended parliamentary debate on 14 July of some decency from the green benches.
Sir Nicholas Soames, the Tory representing Mid Sussex hauled himself to his feet to ask: “Would my honourable friend agree that this is not just a war about rockets from both sides, but it is actually a war about illegal settlements and stolen land?”
A number of other contributors, including Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, pointed out that Israel was targeting disabled people and those in hospitals. Various levels of condemnation, some very hypocritical (naturally in the Houses of Parliament), were voiced by Jack Straw (the former Foreign Secretary) and others. Martin Horwood, a Liberal Democrat, even went so far as to question whether Israel’s favourable economic relationship with Britain and the EU should be reconsidered.
Richard Burden, a Labour MP in Birmingham, pointed out that 17,000 Palestinians were sheltering in UN centres, and that 49 of such centres have been damaged by zionist forces – as was their practice also during the massacre of 2008/9. (See ‘ Israel accused of war crimes (UK Parliament)’, YouTube, 15 July 2014)
This questioning of the Foreign Secretary was certainly a welcome development and demonstrated clearly that, despite the cast-iron ties that still bind British imperialism to the fascist state of Israel, there is a growing and vocal opposition, even within ruling circles, to the blatant and open show of unjustifiable slaughter – and a nervousness about the radicalising effect this could have upon the population here at home.
President Assad speaks
On Wednesday 16 July, Bashar al-Assad was sworn in once more as Syria’s president after his resounding win in the elections there. He used his speech as a weapon in the hands of the oppressed people of the Middle East, and analysed in an intelligent way the ongoing western intervention all over the region.
He correctly placed the Palestinian conflict at the centre of the region’s struggle, and despite what he termed various “betrayals” by some Palestinian resistance groups earlier in the conflict, President Assad was clear to draw the Syrians people’s attention to the need to refrain from bitterness and the importance of drawing clear lines of demarcation between enemies and friends. To the audience at the parliament, he said:
“The existence of these countries [Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain] is the West’s most important achievement and the most significant cause for Israel’s successes and continued existence. There is no clearer evidence than their current stand regarding the Israeli aggression against Gaza. Where is the ‘alleged’ zeal and ardour that they showed towards Syria or the Syrian people? Why haven’t they supported Gaza with arms and money? Where are their jihadists; and why haven’t they sent them to defend our people in Palestine?
“In order to know the answer, we should know that what is happening today in Gaza, ladies and gentlemen, is not a separate or passing event. It is an integrated chain of events: from the occupation of Palestine, to the invasion of Iraq and trying to divide it now, and the division of the Sudan – all planned by Israel and the West and always executed by the states of tyranny and backwardness in our Arab world.
“Was it not Abdulaziz Ibn Abdul Rahman al-Faisal [the first king of Saudi Arabia] who conceded to Britain that he does not object to giving Palestine to the ‘poor’ jews in 1915? Did those states not incite the 1967 war, whose price we are still paying today, in order to get rid of the Abdul Nasser ‘phenomenon’ [ie, Arab nationalism]? Did those states not support Iran under the Shah, only to stand against it when it decided to support the Palestinian people and turn the Israeli embassy into a Palestinian embassy after the revolution?
“Those are the countries which made the ‘King Fahed Peace Initiative’ in 1981 and threatened the Palestinians with rivers of blood if they didn’t accept it [King Fahd was a later king of Saudi Arabia]. When the Palestinian factions rejected it, and in less than a year, there was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the ejection of the PLO from Lebanon – not out of concern for Lebanon, but for Israel.
“Those same states surprised us in 2002 with their greatest concession: ‘normalisation in return for peace’, which was later modified to become the ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ in the Beirut summit.
“When Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, it was those same countries that encouraged Israel and the West not to accept a ceasefire until the Lebanese resistance was destroyed, describing them as ‘adventurous.’ Because these satellite countries succeeded in their tasks, they were charged with funding chaos under the name of the ‘Arab spring’, and with leading the Arab League after other Arab countries abandoned their roles. The Arab League itself was reduced to summoning Nato and imposing a siege on the Arab states that refused to comply.
“All of these events constitute a strongly-linked chain aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause; all the money spent by those countries since their creation has been for this purpose. And here they are today playing the same role: in Gaza through Israeli terrorism, and in Syria through terrorism belonging to 83 nationalities. The methods may differ but their objective is the same.
“This leads me to another important issue. Some have expressed indifference towards Gaza, on the premise that we have our fair share of national problems; others have gloated at the Israeli aggression, as a reaction to the ingratitude and disloyalty of some Palestinians towards Syria and everything we have offered for decades.
“Both cases however, reflect naïve thinking; what is happening in Syria and the region as a whole is strongly linked to what is happening in Palestine. Dissociating ourselves from these events would be like watching a neighbour’s house burning and not offering to help.
“That is why those who believe that we can live in safety and distance ourselves from the Palestinian cause are delusional. It will remain the central cause based on principles and the reality that links what is happening in Palestine with what is happening in Syria.
“We need to distinguish between the resistant Palestinian people and the ungrateful Palestinians; between true resistance fighters – who we should support – and the amateurs who mask themselves in the mantle of resistance to serve their interests, improve their image or strengthen their authority. Otherwise, we will be – consciously or unconsciously, serving Israel’s objectives of dividing us even further and making us believe that our crisis is local and isolated.” (‘ President Bashar al-Assad – Transcript of inauguration speech’, globalresearch.ca, 16 July 2014)
At the turn of the century, it was declared that 1.4tr cubic feet of gas had been found off the Gazan coast and valued at $4bn. It was proposed that this natural resource could provide the base for an economically-viable Palestinian state and that the gas could be sold to Israel, which continues to suffer a profound energy crisis.
If imperialism wasn’t imperialism and zionism wasn’t the willing tool of imperialism then quite possibly such a happy, mutually-beneficial situation may indeed have been brought about. And soon after, pigs may well have been sighted in the skies over Tel Aviv. The reality, however, is that the Israelis have no intention of allowing this important resource to fall into the hands of the Palestinians, who are already denied the fish from their own sea, the water from their own rivers and the soil that their forefathers cultivated for generations.
“He who would understand the economics and the politics of the Middle East from the beginning of the 20th century, must learn to spell, pronounce and really grasp the significance and meaning of just the word – oil … it is impossible to understand either the establishment of the colonial zionist state, and the continuing imperialist support for its existence and the outrages it perpetrates on the Palestinian and other peoples of the Middle East, or the alliance between imperialism and a string of medieval relics and puppet regimes in that part of the world, unless one relates it to the struggle of the leading imperialist powers for the control of the Arab peoples’ oil and gas resources.” (Harpal Brar, Imperialism in the Middle East, 2002)
In a blog for the Guardian website on recent discoveries of natural resources in the Middle East, journalist Nafeez Ahmed wrote:
“Israel has made successive major discoveries in recent years – such as the Leviathan field estimated to hold 18tr cubic feet of natural gas – which could transform the country from energy importer into aspiring energy exporter with ambitions to supply Europe, Jordan and Egypt. A potential obstacle is that much of the 122tr cubic feet of gas and 1.6bn barrels of oil in the Levant Basin Province lies in territorial waters where borders are hotly disputed between Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Cyprus …
“Earlier this year, Hamas condemned a PA [Palestinian Authority] deal to purchase $1.2bn worth of gas from the Israel Leviathan field over a 20-year period once the field starts producing. Simultaneously, the PA has held several meetings with the British Gas Group to develop the Gaza gas field, albeit with a view to exclude Hamas – and thus Gazans – from access to the proceeds. That plan had been the brainchild of Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair.
“But the PA was also courting Russia’s Gazprom to develop the Gaza marine gas field, and talks have been going on between Russia, Israel and Cyprus, though so far it is unclear what the outcome of these have been. Also missing was any clarification on how the PA would exert control over Gaza, which is governed by Hamas …
“For the Israeli government, Hamas continues to be the main obstacle to the finalisation of the gas deal. In the incumbent defence minister’s words: ‘Israel’s experience during the Oslo years indicates Palestinian gas profits would likely end up funding terrorism against Israel. The threat is not limited to Hamas … It is impossible to prevent at least some of the gas proceeds from reaching Palestinian terror groups.’” (‘ IDFs Gaza assault is to control Palestinian gas – avert Israeli energy crisis’, 9 July 2014)
The right to resist
Let us be absolutely clear. The occupation of Palestine is illegal. The genocide of Palestinians is illegal. The ongoing massacre of Palestinians in Gaza is a war crime. These are facts. While our servile corporate journalists and politicians bleat about the ‘violence’ of Hamas, our readers will do well to remember that the right to resist occupation is a right that is enshrined in international law and recognised (officially at least) even by the flunkies at the UN. (See Resolution 37/43, 3 December 1982)
Just as we would have supported the resistance against Nazi occupation in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union, so, too, must we uphold the right of the Palestinians to resist with whatever means they can – and give every possible support to that resistance.
While Israeli politicians have branded their periodic massacres in Gaza as an attempt to keep the resistance weak by “mowing the grass”, they may yet find that this time they have started something they cannot finish. After seven years of inhuman and unbearable siege, it has become clear to the people of Gaza that no amount of proving the justness of their cause in an international arena dominated by US imperialism is going to bring relief.
Now, the people of Gaza – both its civil and its military representatives – have declared that they are no longer prepared to go back to the way things were before, but will fight on until the siege is lifted completely.
In an open letter to the world, Gaza’s prominent activists, academics, business people and journalists joined together to pen the following lines:
“Charges in the media and by politicians of various stripes that accuse Hamas of ordering Gaza residents to resist evacuation orders, and thus use them as human shields, are untrue. With temporary shelters full and the indiscriminate Israeli shelling, there is literally no place that is safe in Gaza.
“Likewise, Hamas represented the sentiment of the vast majority of residents when it rejected the unilateral ceasefire proposed by Egypt and Israel without consulting anyone in Gaza. We share the broadly-held public sentiment that it is unacceptable to merely return to the status quo – in which Israel strictly limits travel in and out of the Gaza Strip, controls the supplies that come in (including a ban on most construction materials), and prohibits virtually all exports, thus crippling the economy and triggering one of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the Arab world.
“To do so would mean a return to a living death.
“Unfortunately, past experience has shown that the Israeli government repeatedly reneges on promises for further negotiations, as well as on its commitments to reform.
“Likewise, the international community has demonstrated no political will to enforce these pledges. Therefore, we call for a ceasefire only when negotiated conditions result in the following:
* Freedom of movement of Palestinians in and out of the Gaza Strip.
* Unlimited import and export of supplies and goods, including by land, sea and air.
* Unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport.
* Monitoring and enforcement of these agreements by a body appointed by the United Nations, with appropriate security measures.
“Each of these expectations is taken for granted by most countries, and it is time for the Palestinians of Gaza to be accorded the human rights they deserve.” (‘ No ceasefire without justice for Gaza’, electronicintifada.net, 22 July 2014)
As protests escalate in solidarity with Gaza in the West Bank, Hamas leaders have called for the outbreak of a third intifada (uprising) against the occupation. Western media commentators seem sanguine that this call will fail, but, while the check-points, the exponential growth of the illegal settlements and the break-up of the territory into tiny Bantustans have indeed made organising much more difficult for the people there, there is a limit to how much they, too, will be prepared to put up with – and to how long the forces of the Palestinian Authority will be willing or able to hold their own people’s anger in check. (See ‘ Hamas calls for -third intifada- after violent riots in Jerusalem and West Bank’ by Inna Lazareva, telegraph.co.uk, 25 July 2014)
The hypocrisy of the media on the question of resistance was beautifully summed up in an excellent article by a young British musician, Sarah Gillespie, who wrote:
“Israel is extremely fond of telling the world that they have the right to defend themselves. They enjoy a nuclear arsenal, cutting edge American weaponry and the formidable Iron Dome technology.
“Yet, although Israel constantly brags about its own egalitarian credentials, for some reason Israel refuses to grant the Palestinian people this same intrinsic right to defence that it demands for itself.
“Palestinians are not allowed to protect themselves. They are not allowed to fight. Instead we are invited to imagine that it is somehow acceptable for the Palestinians to have no weaponry whatsoever, no army, no solders, no rights. We are led to believe that the only way for Palestinians to prove their integrity is to lie down like lambs and quietly live out the unspeakably miserable lives of squalor, poverty and despair that Israel has designed for them. In short, Israel wishes the Palestinians were suicidal, but, inconveniently, they keep proving to us that they are not.
“Obviously, asking a people to passively embrace their own ethnic cleansing is implausible. One would hope that the jews, more than anyone, might be capable of grasping such a fundamental truth – but sadly not. Given then, that the people of Gaza, like any other human beings, have a right to defence, where exactly should they store their weapons? In the rolling valleys and tumbling hills of Haraat al-Daraj? Amid the fauna-filled acres of Shuja’iyya?
“Gaza is home to approximately 1.8 million people, it is 25 miles long by 5 to 7 miles wide and sealed by both an Egyptian and Israeli blockade. It is the most crowded open-air prison on earth. The only place to feasibly store weapons is inevitably in the proximity of the people forced to live there cheek by jowl.
“Israel has now ordered some 43 percent of the territory to be evacuated. But where to? The Kafka-esque request to insist people go, knowing there is nowhere to go to, is clearly there to benefit Israeli PR, not save lives. And it doesn’t fool anyone. There are currently hundreds of thousands of displaced. The schools that have opened to receive those fleeing are already overflowing and Palestinians that endured the bombings of schools during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ know that even a so-called ‘refuge’ cannot guarantee safety.
“Let’s be clear: the only people putting the Palestinians in danger are the Israelis. The only people killing innocent people are the Israelis. Hamas may not be the party that the chattering classes of the West would want to govern them, but they are democratically elected and they have as much right as Israel, Britain, France and America to fight against an oppressor that quite literally wants to ‘wipe them off the map’.
“They face a tough job, but one thing they can’t do is use human shields against an enemy that doesn’t recognise them as human.” (‘ Gaza Israel and human shields’, palestinechronicle.com, 24 July 2014)
Ms Gillespie is absolutely right. And, far from condemning the Palestinian resistance for ‘using violence’, we should be upholding their right to bear arms and demanding the world does what it can to put better and more effective weapons into their hands.
The zionists have made it perfectly clear that no appeal to their humanity or reason will weigh with them. But they would doubtless be a whole lot less gung-ho in their approach to the lives of the civilians in Gaza if there were any serious danger of their victims hitting them back in the same way. How easy for Israel’s ‘fighter’ pilots to be ‘brave’ when they are free to drop bombs on babies like fish in a barrel from high up in uncontested skies.
How do we resist in Britain?
Whilst the CPGB-ML welcomes and supports the PR and economic successes achieved by the BDS movement, it is our belief that BDS on its own will not be enough to bring about the complete collapse of the zionist entity.
Here in the imperialist countries, there is much more we can do than simply ask our imperialist politicians politely not to take Israel’s side – not to send weapons, money or supplies to the zionist state that commits such heinous crimes. We can actually force our governments to drop support if we are prepared to act.
What we really need to be calling for in all our respective countries – and especially in those with close economic and political ties to Israel like Britain and the USA – is a mass campaign of non-cooperation with Israeli war crimes. (See CPGB-ML leaflet, ‘ Stand with Gaza … Join the axis of resistance!’)
We know that British people are sick of the crimes being committed in Palestine. They are sick of their government’s complicity. But they feel powerless. It is the Palestine solidarity movement’s job to point out that they are not as powerless as they think.
Not only does the media need to be held to account for the lies it tells on behalf of Israel, and those firms that profit from the war and occupation need to be singled out and boycotted (something our own Palestine Solidarity Campaign does work hard at), but all parts of the war machine need to be actively stopped from functioning.
We are not only consumers but workers. Media workers should refuse to write war propaganda or to publish or broadcast them. They should be reminded that taking any part in creating such propaganda makes them war criminals too, according to what was established at Nuremberg. (See ‘ US journalists and war crimes guilt’ by Peter Dyer, consortiumnews.com, 15 October 2008)
In Britain, thousands of people help supply zionism with technical and militaristic, as well as moral (by way of the media) support for the occupation, even though the majority of those doing such work are likely to be sympathetic to the Palestinians’ plight. Those who are making munitions for Israel need the backing of their union so that they can collectively refuse to continue with such work.
Those who provide any goods or services to Israel and to the settlements need to be organised en masse to withdraw their labour-power from such work and explain exactly why they are doing so to the rest of the British public. Supermarket workers should feel empowered to refuse to put Israeli products on the shelves. Transport workers should be organised to refuse to carry anything to or from Israel.
Collectively, as workers, we have a lot more power over the situation than the ineffectual lobbying of MPs would lead us to believe. The role of Palestine solidarity movements everywhere should be to raise that awareness and mobilise workers in every area of productive life so we can get our unions behind such a campaign and bring our co-workers with us.
The whole zionist enterprise would collapse pretty quickly if we put our money where our mouth is and used our collective power. It’s the one thing that could terrify our own ruling class into dropping its support for the Israeli project.
Long live Palestine, long live Gaza! Victory to the resistance!