Thu 07 Dec 2023 10:48 am - Jerusalem Time

Gaza as a global metaphor for reclaiming justice

By Yosefa Loshitzky

Gaza acts as a mirror reflecting their own local resistance for different dispossessed groups. 

“Gaza as a Metaphor and the Right to be Human”, was the title of a paper that I wrote for a conference on International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism that took place in Cork, Ireland from March 31-April 2, 2017.  Due to health issues, I was not able to attend the conference in person and my paper was read by my husband. From what I learnt afterwards, it stirred some emotions and, as expected, I was even accused (not for the first time) of being an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier by a Christian attendee. I also found out later that the label “jihadist” was used to vilify me in some Israeli websites whose mission is to mark and label as “traitors” Jewish people, and particularly Israeli Jews, critical of Israel.

The accusation of being a Holocaust denier is beyond the grotesque. I was named Yosefa after my mother’s father Yosef, who was murdered in Treblinka, perhaps the most horrific Nazi extermination camp in Poland. My mother was the only survivor of her family.

Only today, it occurred to me to look at the text of my paper, written in 2017 and referring mostly to the assault on Gaza in 2014. Going through the text again felt uncanny. A strange feeling of déjà vu with some past horror “show” that is currently being exponentially accelerated, multiplied and intensified in its ferocity, cruelty and velocity. The following is the original text of my 2017 paper: I would like to start by saying that despite the title of my paper I am fully aware that Gaza is not only a metaphor, but also a very harsh reality deliberately created and perpetuated by Israel. But metaphors can provide a useful way of exploring and understanding complex situations. Metaphors can also help to mobilize social and political protests and struggles. 

In this paper I argue that Israel’s murderous assaults on Gaza over the last few years constitute a formative political moment, “the Gaza moment” which was manifested in a variety of ways including the 2009 students’ occupation movement and the growing calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Gaza as a site of extreme suffering inflicted by the state of Israel on the Palestinian people can be interpreted as a metaphor for a prison, a ghetto, a refugee camp, a space/state of exception in the spirit of Giorgio Agamben’s theorization, an experimental laboratory for exercising total control and surveillance, a ground zone for a futuristic warfare and a showcase for arms trade.

The attacks on Gaza introduce an apocalyptic vision of the present and the near present, a cataclysm of disaster capitalism where America’s “war on terror” through its proxy Israel can be more accurately described as America’s war on the world, a war, which as Mike Davies powerfully demonstrates, is specifically targeted against “the ‘feral, failed cities’ of the Third World – especially their slum outskirts,” where “the distinctive battlespace of the twenty-first century” (according to the Pentagon doctrine) will take place.

Gaza as a metaphor suggests that the “war” between gated Israel and ghettoized Palestine, applies to the current and future fortress globe, produced, perpetrated and perpetuated by the security sector.

Gaza as a metaphor introduces the true face of the “clash of civilizations”, the battle of the civilized West against the dark and barbarian forces incarnated according to the moral discourse of the “free world” by asylum seekers, refugees, and the poor, the “criminals” and the “terrorists” in the post 9/11 planet.


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