OPINIONS

Fri 19 Apr 2024 3:51 pm - Jerusalem Time

War on Gaza: A cruel month of massacres for Palestinians as the US mask is ripped off

Ammiel Alcalay

 As tensions flare with Iran, the US continues to provide full support for Israel's genocide in the Gaza Strip

The events of early April seem to bear out the first line of T S Eliot’s “The Wasteland”, that “April is the cruellest month”. 

On 10 April, on Eid al-Fitr, the celebratory end of Ramadan, Israel killed three sons and four grandchildren of Hamas political bureau leader Ismail Haniyeh in an air strike on Gaza’s al-Shati camp. This adds yet more killings to the already staggering total, with Haniyeh himself having lost 60 family members to Israeli attacks.

Three days earlier, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, Walid Daqqa, after 38 years of imprisonment, died from a lack of adequate medical care for bone marrow cancer. According to his lawyer, Daqqa had recently been subjected to torture and beatings. 

A writer and revolutionary thinker, Daqqa formulated the concept of “parallel time”, linking the larger prison of occupied Palestine to smaller prisons like those he found himself in for close to four decades. As Mondoweiss managing editor Faris Giacaman wrote in a brilliant tribute, Daqqa was “one of the few legitimate inheritors of Ghassan Kanafani’s legacy”. 

Kanafani, who likely needs no introduction, was born in Akka in April 1936 and lived through the Nakba as a child. He was assassinated in Beirut in 1972, along with Lamis Nijem, his 17-year-old niece. In the pre-drone era of Israeli assassinations of Palestinian cultural and political figures, this was carried out with a car bomb. The title of one of Kanafani’s greatest stories, “He was a child that day,” says it all.


In a 1970 interview with Australian journalist Richard Carleton, Kanafani, a prominent member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was asked: “Why won’t your organisation engage in peace talks with the Israelis?” 

Kanafani stared silently down in front of him before responding: “You don’t mean exactly peace talks, you mean capitulation, surrendering.” Carleton continued: “Why not just talk?”

“Talk to whom?” Kanafani asked, to which Carleton said: “Talk to the Israeli leaders.” Kanafani replied: “That’s a kind of conversation between the sword and the neck.”

Mask is off

Remarkably, as if on cue, at a crucial point in negotiations between Hamas and Israel, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had this to say on 9 April: “We would not be where we are had they not chosen to engage in one of the most horrific acts of brutality and terrorism on October 7th and had they then, having done that, not refused these many, many months to get out of the way of civilians, to stop hiding behind them, to put down their arms, to release the hostages, to surrender.” 

While the needle doesn’t seem to have moved among the western political alliance led by the US, the mask has been off for a long time in most of the rest of the world, and it is increasingly coming off among the actual subjects of these western governments, whose anger and disgust mounts daily. 

Indications of this are everywhere, from continuing protests, to conservative commentator Tucker Carlson’s recent interview with Palestinian pastor Munther Isaac, in which the pair excoriated US congressional and evangelical support for Israel, a pillar of US-Israel relations and funding. 


We are exposed to a continually escalating news cycle, with stories relentlessly pumped out at the expense of clarity and coherence


The dizzying events of the past few weeks, including the Iranian counterattack on Israel, tell us much about where things stand in the relentless mix of differently scaled atrocities and psychological warfare carried out by state actors and their willing accomplices in the media, academia and professional associations. 

The official outrage, both genuine and feigned, over the targeted killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers has not been even remotely matched when it comes to the more than 34,000 Palestinian casualties of this genocidal slaughter. 

While Israeli forces systematically target the Palestinian reporters exposing their crimes, mainstream western journalism appears to have accepted the rules of engagement laid out by those in power: Do not probe too deeply nor connect too many dots. 

In the meantime, we are exposed to a continually escalating news cycle, with stories relentlessly pumped out at the expense of clarity and coherence. 

Attention diverted

As journalist Pepe Escobar so scathingly put it regarding the attack on the aid workers: “The ‘logic’ behind the deliberate three-tap strike on the clearly signed humanitarian convoy of famine-alleviating workers in Gaza was to eviscerate from the news an even more horrendous episode: the genocide-within-a-genocide of al-Shifa hospital.”

Escobar went on to write of Israel’s attack on Iran’s consulate in Damascus: “This was a missile attack on a diplomatic mission, enjoying immunity, on the territory of a third country, against which [Israel] is not at war … Translation: an act of terror, against two sovereign states, Syria and Iran.” 

The scenario played out as expected: there was no US or European condemnation of the Israeli attack, and no UN condemnation, while Iran’s rejoinder, at least according to Israel’s ambassador to the UN, marked a severe threat to world peace. The unearthing of mass graves and testimonies from survivors of Israel’s assault on al-Shifa hospital receded into the background as attention was diverted to Israel’s possible response to the Iranian counterattack.

This whole series of events, in addition to the Israeli-US policy of using starvation as a tool of war while covering up the ongoing genocide, aims to eliminate the possibility of accepting Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organisation in the UK and other countries, as a credible negotiating partner. 

As Palestinian human rights attorney Diana Buttu succinctly put it after the assassination of Haniyeh’s family members: “‘Negotiations’ - Israeli style.”

Between obligatory crocodile tears and theatrical anger, the US continues to arm and provide full support for Israel’s genocide, while pleading for Israel to call a “ceasefire” and allow food into Gaza through more crossings - all while holding veto power at the UN Security Council. 

In other words, it is obfuscation coupled with escalation, while the killing in Gaza continues apace. A cruel month indeed.

 

Even though the FLN was defeated in Algiers, the French war against its fighters continued, culminating in the massacre of Saqiyat Sidi Yusuf. In February 1958, the French bombing of the Tunisian border town killed 70 civilians, including scores of children - a war crime condemned across the Arab world and by the Eisenhower administration.

Months later, Charles de Gaulle, who became the new French prime minister, visited Algeria on 4 June to an enthusiastic reception from the colonists, to whom he said: "I have understood you." He soon issued a new constitution and became president of the republic. His manoeuvres worried some in the FLN leadership that if they lost, "Algeria would suffer the same fate as Palestine".

In September 1958, the FLN declared in Cairo an Algerian Provisional Government of the new Algerian republic to be liberated, which was immediately recognised by the Arab states as well as other Third World states.

Meanwhile, the French secret service went on a rampage of assassinations and attacked FLN members and German arms traders in Germany. They blew up a ship in Hamburg harbour carrying arms to Algeria, attacks to which Chancellor Konrad Adenauer's West Germany turned a blind eye while spying on Algerians and other Muslims for the French.

In October, de Gaulle spoke of "the peace of the brave" (a phrase the buffoonish Yasser Arafat would later adopt) that he wanted to pursue in Algeria as he ordered a new offensive against the FLN.

Final days

The French continued to recruit Algerian collaborators who, by then, expanded from 26,000 to 60,000 men to track the FLN's Army of National Liberation (ALN), not unlike the Palestinian Authority's mercenaries who are trained by the Americans and Europeans today.

By April 1959, overwhelmed by the intensity of French repression and the massive number of French soldiers and Algerian collaborators, half the ALN fighters were killed. By October, 2,157,000 Algerians were "relocated" by the French and herded in 1,242 concentration camps under army control, with more than a quarter million becoming refugees in neighbouring Tunisia and Morocco.

The white supremacist world of Europe and its surviving white settler-colonies are just as supportive of Israel's genocide as they had been of its predecessors in Africa

The 60,000 Algerian collaborators ("harkis") were now organised into units to help the French capture ALN fighters. An additional 19,000 collaborators were organised into a militia.

Whereas French philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Francis Jeanson, like Frantz Fanon, supported Algerian independence and the FLN, the Algerian Jewish philosopher Jacques Derrida sided with the colonists and opposed Algeria's independence.

With Third World support, a UN General Assembly voted for a resolution in support of Algerian self-determination. It rejected the possibility of partition, which de Gaulle had suggested the previous year (63 countries voted in favour of the resolution, and eight opposed it, with 27 abstentions).

Soon after the UN vote, De Gaulle began negotiations with the FLN, and the French colonists established a new terrorist organisation, called Organisation de l'Armee Secrete (OAS), in General Franco's Madrid. As talks between the FLN and the French were to start in April 1961 in the Swiss city of Evian, colonial terrorists assassinated the mayor of Evian.  Meanwhile, in July 1961, the French bombed the Tunisian border town of Bizerte, killing 4,000 Tunisian civilians and injuring thousands more, targeting the site where a French army base existed and which the French refused to vacate.

This resulted in more international condemnation and further isolation of France. However, the US and the UK, not unlike their current protection of Israel at the UN, killed a UN resolution calling for negotiations regarding the French evacuation of the base at Bizerte.

Terrorist attacks by the colonists would continue but would ultimately be defeated by the French military.

When the Algerians finally won their independence in 1962, they had lost upwards of 300,000 people whom the French had killed since 1954. In total, more than a million Algerians were killed by France since it first colonised Algeria in 1830.  So far, the Israelis have killed more than 33,000 Palestinians in the last six months, with thousands more who remain buried under the rubble.

They have shown an appetite and a readiness to kill many more to preserve their Jewish supremacist settler-colony. As with the erstwhile white settler-colonies, the white supremacist world of Europe and its surviving white settler-colonies are just as supportive of Israel's genocide as they had been of its predecessors in Africa since the Second World War - as are many of the western pundits and intellectuals, including Jurgen Habermas, the heir of the Frankfurt School.  

As to how many more Palestinians they will let Israel kill in its final years before it is dismantled and replaced by a decolonised non-racial state is something only White House strategists know.  

 

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War on Gaza: A cruel month of massacres for Palestinians as the US mask is ripped off

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