History is repeating itself — and every politician and establishment journalist is pretending they cannot see what is staring them in the face. There is a collective and wilful refusal to join the dots in Gaza, even when they point in one direction only.
There has been a consistent pattern to Israel’s behaviour since its creation 75 years ago — just as there has been a consistent pattern to the “see no evil, hear no evil” response of western powers.
In 1948, in events the Palestinians call their “Nakba,” or Catastrophe, 80 percent of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their lands in what became the self-declared Jewish state of Israel.
As Palestinians maintained at the time — and Israeli historians later confirmed from archival documents — Israel’s leaders lied when they said Palestinians had fled of their own volition, on the orders of neighbouring Arab states.
As the historians also discovered, Israeli leaders lied when they claimed that they had pleaded, first, with the 900,000 Palestinians inside the new state’s borders to stay and, later, with the 750,000 forced into exile to return home.
Rather, the archives showed that the new Israeli state’s soldiers had carried out terrible massacres to drive out the Palestinian population. The overall ethnic cleansing operation had a name, Plan Dalet.
Later, Israeli leaders even lied in minimising the number of Palestinian agricultural communities they had destroyed: there were more than 500 wiped from the face of the earth by Israeli bulldozers and army sappers. Paradoxically, this procedure was popularly known by Israelis as “making the desert bloom.”
Extraordinarily, reputable scholars, journalists and politicians in the West — those who dominate the mainstream conversation — ignored all this evidence of Israeli deceit and mendacity for decades, even after Israeli historians and archival documents supported the Palestinian account of the Nakba.
Various strategies were adopted to keep the truth out of view. Prominent observers continued peddling discredited Israeli talking points. Others threw up their hands, arguing that the truth could not be definitively determined.
And yet more declared that, even if bad things had happened, there was blame enough to go round on both sides and that, anyway, it was an excellent thing the Jewish people had a sanctuary (even if Palestinians paid the price rather than the antisemites and genocidaires in Europe).
These defences started to crumble with the advent of social media and a digital world in which information could be disseminated more easily. Western elites hurriedly tried to shut down any critical discussion of the circumstances in which the state of Israel was birthed by labelling it as antisemitism.
All of this is the context for understanding the current “mainstream” debate about what’s happening in Gaza. We are seeing the same disconnect between actual events and the establishment’s crafting of a narrative to excuse Israel, except this time the deception and gaslighting are occurring while we, the audience, can see for ourselves the horrifying facts unfold in real time.
We don’t need historians to tell us what is going on in Gaza. It is live on television (or at least the more sanitised version is). Let’s just recount the known facts.
Israeli officials have called for the eradication of Gaza as a place where Palestinians can live, and said all Palestinians are viewed as legitimate targets for Israel’s bombs and bullets.
Palestinians have been ordered out of the northern half of Gaza. Israel has attacked Gaza’s hospitals, the last sanctuaries for Palestinians in the north. Gaza was already one of the most crowded places on Earth. But Palestinians have been forced into the southern half of the strip, where they are being subjected to a “complete siege” that denies them food, water and power. The U.N. warned last week that Gaza’s civilian population faced the “immediate possibility” of starvation.
Israel has now ordered Palestinians to leave much of the largest city in southern Gaza, Khan Younis. Palestinians are gradually being forced to huddle in the narrow corridor at Rafah, next to the border with Egypt. Some 2.3 million people are being packed into an ever-shrinking space.
The majority have no home to return to, even if Israel lets them head north. The schools, universities, bakeries, mosques and churches are mostly gone. Much of Gaza is a wasteland.
For years Israel has had a plan to drive Palestinians out of Gaza, across the border, into the Egyptian territory of Sinai.
Palestine refugees, British Mandate of Palestine – 1948. Making their way from Galilee in October-November 1948. Photo: Fred Csasznik / Public Domain.
After its mass ethnic cleansing operations of 1948 and 1967, Israel tried to manage the remaining Palestinian population through the traditional apartheid model of herding the natives into reservations, as its predecessors did with the remnants of the “locals” who survived their efforts at extermination.
Any caution on Israel’s part derived from the different political climate it had to operate in: international law became more central after World War II, with clear definitions of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The West wilfully mischaracterises Israel’s process of dispossessing and ghettoising these remaining Palestinians as a “conflict” because they refuse to submit quietly to the apartheid, ghettoisation model.
Now, Israel’s management approach to the Palestinians has broken down completely — for two main reasons.
First, the Palestinians, aided by new technologies that have made it more difficult to keep them out of view, have attracted ever widening popular support – and most problematically, among Western publics.
The Palestinians have also managed to bring their cause to international forums, even gaining recognition as a state by a majority of members of the United Nations. Potentially, they even have redress in the West’s international legal institutions, like the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.
As a result, subduing the Palestinians — or maintaining “calm”, as Western establishments prefer to call it — has become more and more difficult and expensive.
And second, on Oct. 7, Hamas proved that Palestinian resistance cannot be contained even under a siege enforced by drones, and an Iron Dome interception system protecting Israel from retaliatory rockets. In such circumstances, Palestinians have shown they will seek surprising and creative ways to break out of their confinement and bring their oppression into the spotlight.
In fact, given the West’s dulled sensitivities to Palestinian suffering, militant factions are likely to deduce that headline-grabbing atrocities — mirroring Israel’s own historic approach to the Palestinians — are the only way to gain attention.
Israel understands that the Palestinians are going to continue being a thorn in its side, a reminder that Israel is not a normal state. And the struggle to correct Israel’s decades of dispossessing and brutalising Palestinians will become ever more a defining moral cause among Western publics, as the fight against apartheid South Africa once was.
So Israel is taking advantage of this moment to “finish the job”. The final destination is clearly in view, as, in truth, it has been for more than seven decades. The crime is unfolding step by step, the pace quickening. And yet senior politicians and journalists in the West, like their predecessors, continue to be blind to it all.
Main photo: Gazans outside Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia, north of the Gaza Strip, on October 9, 2023, following Israeli airstrikes. © Palestinian News & Information Agency. or Wafa, in contract with APAimages / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0.
Source: Consortium News.