by John Wight
It is hard to imagine anything so nauseating as a group of affluent liberals defending the mass murder of poor colonized people in the name of democracy and security. Though a species of moral turpitude associated with 19th century colonial tropes, in 2018 it remains very much alive under the banner of the UK Labour Friends of Israel (LFI).
In response to the shocking scenes of violence unleashed by Israeli security forces against Palestinian protestors on the boundary of the besieged Gaza Strip, resulting in the deaths of at least 58 people, including children, and the wounding of a further 2700, international condemnation of Israel has been near total.
Given that this latest body count raises to over 100 the number of Palestinians killed over the six weeks of Great Return March protests, organized to demand the right of return of refugees to their homes, along with a total of 10,000 wounded and injured, over 100, there is no doubting the willingness of Israel’s security forces to unleash lethal force against civilians.
Yet, as if to confirm the truth that colonialism is the toilet of the human soul, Labour Friends of Israel – a group of avowed Israel-supporting Labour Party MPs and officials – in a tweet subsequently removed amid the deluge of criticism it incurred, sought to defend this massacre by raising the spectre of Hamas.
Tragic events on the Gazan border; all civilian deaths are regrettable. Hamas must accept responsibility for these events. Their successful attempt to hijack peaceful protest to attack Israeli border communities must be condemned by all who seek peace in the Middle East.”
Language is important, for it is the key to unlocking consciousness, and the language deployed by LFI in its response to Israel’s massacre of unarmed Palestinian protestors in Gaza confirms that for them the world is defined by a hierarchy of human worth, thus assuaging the groups collective conscience in defending the indefensible.
But though LFI constitute a particularly egregious example of moral collapse when it comes to mitigating this unconscionable massacre, there are other culprits whose foray into the swamp of equivocation is worthy of condemnation.
Consider, for example, the BBC’s coverage.
In its reporting of the massacre the word ‘clashes’ predominated, conjuring the image of two equal sides engaged in a battle of some sort.
— Media Lens (@medialens) May 14, 2018
Thus for the typical Oxbridge-educated BBC journalist and editor, a Palestinian wielding a slingshot is the moral equivalent of a Kevlar-helmeted Israeli soldier wielding an advanced sniper rifles – moreover, a sniper rifle that may well have been supplied by the UK.
As for CNN, that bastion of US liberal news propaganda (oops, sorry, coverage), here again it’s not a massacre it’s clashes, as in ‘Dozens of Palestinians killed In Gaza clashes as US Embassy Opens’.
Speaking of which, the extent of the contempt in which the rights of the Palestinians are held, and thus the contempt in which they as a people are held, was measured in the juxtaposition of the opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem with Palestinians being mown down by gunfire in Gaza. The headline carried on the front page of the New York Daily News, excoriating Ivanka Trump’s attendance at the event on behalf of the administration, spoke for millions.
There is no longer any hiding place when it comes to the brutal injustice of the plight of the Palestinian people. Too, the attempt to deploy Hamas as the terrorist bogeyman, used to justify Israel’s asphyxiating blockade of two million people in Gaza, is a perversion of both the history and the reality of the issue.
Hamas is a product of Israel’s brutality and violence, Israel’s brutality and violence is not and never has been a product of Hamas. Further, the roots of this latest bout of lethal violence on the part of the Israeli security forces do not lie in the stance of the Netanyahu government, or indeed any Israeli government. Instead its roots lie in Israel’s mode of existence as a settler colonial apartheid state, a key component of which is the dehumanization and subjugation of the Palestinians.
Desmond Tutu, the first black archbishop if Cape Town, South Africa, and who received the Nobel Prize for his role in the struggle against South African apartheid, understood this all too well. In 2014, he is reported to have said:
I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”
He goes on:
In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime.”
It is no accident that the post-apartheid South African government peremptorily announced the withdrawal of its ambassador from Israel in light of the massacre in Gaza. After all, on the most prosaic of levels, who more qualified to recognize today’s victims of apartheid than yesterday’s victims of apartheid?
Labour Friends of Israel, a key pole of opposition to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, has plumbed new depths of indecency with its mealy-mouthed apologia for Israel’s dreadful and appalling massacre of Palestinian protestors in Gaza.
Shakespeare was right:
Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”