OPINIONS

Thu 30 May 2024 7:22 pm - Jerusalem Time

War on Gaza: The West is buying Israel extra time to accomplish its genocide

By Emile Badarin

 Israel - with full western backing - continues to subject 2.3 million beleaguered men, women, and children to a relentless campaign of displacement, extermination, and starvation without much external distraction

It is not only astonishing that Israel and its allies have utilised virtually every propaganda twist and lie to portray genocide as a “just” war of self-defence, but also that they have every confidence that the public will be repeatedly deceived.

“Buying time” to accomplish the destruction of Gaza is the ultimate objective of the deception campaign, as stated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in October 2023.

The vaunted Israeli hasbara (official narrative-spinning) borrows from the well-tested and widely applied Euro-American colonial discourse to dehumanise the Palestinians.

High-ranking Israeli political, military, intellectual, and media figures have presented Palestinians as "human animals", "sons of darkness", savages, uncivilised, terrorists, beheaders, burners of babies, sexual predators, new Nazis, and the like, all to paint genocide as a legitimate course of action.

Therefore, it did not take much for the western liberal establishment and corporate media to embrace this discourse and to go even further by erasing Palestine and the Palestinian dispossession from the narrative. The New York Times is a case in point.


Tactics of deception worked during the early weeks of the wholesale onslaught on Gaza as western political leaders acted as cheerleaders for the onslaught. Israel bought time to subject 2.3 million beleaguered men, women, and children to a relentless campaign of extermination, displacement, destruction, and starvation without much external distraction.

Crackdown on dissent

When the propaganda campaign lost its effect under the heavy weight of the unfolding genocide, Israel and its supporters turned instead to quashing those who bore witness and any dissenting voices.

From the outset, Israel resorted to physical methods. While foreign journalists were not allowed to report freely from Gaza, Israel has killed over 100 local journalists, and members of their families, since 7 October.

Recently, Al Jazeera, the only international media channel reporting live from Gaza, was forced to shut down. 

Initially, liberal democratic, western governments and institutions employed soft tactics to suppress dissent, including censorship, exclusion from mainstream media, smear, and character assassination.

However, as protests started to penetrate the intellectual base of society, particularly among university students, suppression tactics shifted to physical repression.

Thousands of university and college students and faculty were arrested and assaulted by the police and other security agents. Certain EU countries went as far as banning academics from voicing their dissent, both in person and online.

Antisemitism has been cited to justify a physical crackdown on dissent in the West.

Israel and its allied western governments and corporate media intensified their efforts to thrust centre-stage the faux equivalence between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

To do this, the US and many European countries, including the UK, France, and Germany, have utilised both judicial and extra-judicial tools developed since the release of the heavily criticised IHRA working definition of antisemitism in 2016, which has been weaponised and “intentionally used to create a chilling effect” on academic freedom as stated by its lead author Kenneth Stern.

This marks a further attempt to silence the growing critical voices of Israel, especially among university students and faculty. 

Colonial structures

This equivalency turns things upside down. Not only does it interdict dissent, freedom of speech and assembly, and academic freedom, but it also misleadingly presents the struggle and protest against settler-colonial oppression, apartheid and genocide conducted by the Israeli state, government officials, and army as expressions of racism and hate speech against all Jews. 

Such an equivalency is both anachronistic and inconsistent, particularly in its wholesale association of all Jews with Israel and Zionism, which in itself is an antisemitic generalisation. In reality, many Jews have never been or want to be associated with Israel or Zionism, and some are explicitly anti-Zionist.

 

It is worth recalling that in 1917, Edwin Montagu, the only Jewish member of the then British government, forcefully opposed Zionism on theological and political grounds.

These structures lay the foundations and background knowledge that can inform the development of similar practices to shut down protests of other subjugated groups and social movements.

This makes Palestine more than a provincial struggle for justice and freedom. 

Palestine is entwined with the broader struggle against colonial structures, ethics and knowledge that has for decades licenced and abetted exploitation and eliminatory violence against colonised nations, both in the global south and global north. 

Israel’s settler-colonisation of Palestine is part and parcel of these colonial structures. Israel not only applies western technology and weapons to kill en masse, but also uses the same knowledge, reason, and ethics to justify it. 

Crucial global juncture

The Palestinian quest for freedom and a non-colonial future powerfully vivifies the double consciousness, to use WEB Du Bois’s concept, of the oppressed across the globe.

On the one hand, Palestine evokes memories of exploitation, dispossession, humiliation, stolen children, slavery, Jim Crow laws, apartheid, white supremacy, and genocide inflicted by the Euro-American colonial powers. These colonial crimes were also justified and rationalised as moral practices and just wars. 

For the Global South and Indigenous nations of the global north, including indigenous nations of the most liberal democratic states such as Sweden and Norway, such supremacist and colonial discourse and practices serve as reminders of their past and present experiences of Liberal oppression and colonialism, as perceptively captured by Naledi Pandor, the minister of international relations and cooperation in South Africa.

Through the lens of Gaza, Namibia's President Nangolo Mbumba saw Germany’s atrocities in Africa, particularly the genocide of the Herero and Nama peoples between 1904 and 1908, to which it has “yet to fully atone”, as he put it.

On the other hand, the Palestinian struggle has reinvigorated our focus on Indigenous metaphysics, cultures, traditions, histories, knowledge, languages, and spirituality, elements that colonial Europe either suppressed, locked, or destroyed.

This development creates new pathways for decolonial thinking and emancipation beyond the shackles of colonial models.

The awakening of consciousness is unfolding at a crucial global juncture, as western dominance in the realms of power, economy, and knowledge is receding. 

In addition to brute force, Euro-American dominance relied on normative/soft power, particularly assertions of universal truth, objectivity, civilisation, and recently the so-called rules-based international order. Colonial normative power has served as a bulwark that has alienated colonised nations and blocked their confidence. 

The rise of the Brics countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) has marked the end of western global dominance.

Meanwhile, the Euro-American complicity in the genocide in Gaza has irreversibly shattered its normative power. Such complicity goes beyond official state power and institutions associated with bodies that underpin this power, such as corporate media, university administrations, society elite, senior philosophers, corporations, and many others.

Just the beginning

For centuries, Euro-American powers have amassed immense privileges at the expense of colonised, oppressed, and racialised people all around the world.

Losing privileges leads to disorientation and mental breakdown. Therefore, the application of physical force to quash dissent is likely to escalate in liberal western democracies, especially when normative masks have fallen off.

The application of physical force to quash dissent is likely to escalate in liberal western democracies, especially when normative masks have fallen off

What we are witnessing, the repression and restriction, might be just the beginning. 

The Palestinian sumud (steadfast resistance) in the face of the genocidal war during the last eight months has repositioned the Palestinian moral and just cause at the centre of the ethical struggle, shifting away from fixed ideologies as the younger generations on university campuses have demonstrated. 

Western support to buy Israel extra time to carry out further extermination and destruction in Gaza did not, and will not, stop the struggle for transforming Palestine from the damned place of the earth to a place of non-colonial humanity, where freedom and justice prevail for all from the river to the sea.

In the long struggle for freedom and equality, colonial oppression will ultimately be defeated.

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War on Gaza: The West is buying Israel extra time to accomplish its genocide

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