The war against the Palestinian people – analysis of multiple dimensions

Image: Mohammed Abubakr
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By REMY J. FONTANA*

Genocide may already be underway, in certain situations, before we are fully aware of it, by which time it will be too late

1. Land and religion

The exclusivity of Jews as recipients of the Promised Land is a theological and exegetical controversy of texts from different faiths. There is initially a question about the exclusivity of Abraham's racial descent. His children consist of Jews and Gentiles living throughout the world: Romans, Greeks, Cappadocians, Arabs – and insofar as they belong to Christ, they also belong to Abraham.

 God's promise reaches Abraham and his seed and this seed is Christ. Thus, Christ is the true heir of Abraham and his promises. The reference to Christ refers to the entire world and not to a restoration of Judea or a political establishment of the Holy Land[ii].

In this way, references to a divine choice or preference are inconsistent, to the detriment of the idea that States must be constituted on the assumption that everyone is equal before the law.

Although their Arab ancestry is well established, Palestinians consider themselves descendants not only of the Arab conquerors of the 7th century, but also of original people who lived in the country since time immemorial, including the ancient Hebrews and the Canaanites before them.

On the other hand, if the Zionist Jews' claim that the Palestinian land belongs to them, as they inhabited it 2 thousand years ago, were relevant, this would be the equivalent, according to political scientist Norman Finkelstein, of someone knocking on the door of their house and saying who lived there 2 thousand years ago, and the next day send the police to expel you.

The theological and historical aspects mentioned here only in passing as a substrate of contemporary tensions, disputes and conflicts in the region, give us an idea of ​​their complexity.

In the wake of the Dreyfus case (France, 1894-1906), and the intense political and judicial scandal that followed and which divided public opinion, anti-Semitism resurfaced with force. It is in this context that the Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl published in 1896 the book The Jewish State, and on 29/08/1897 the first Zionist congress that founded the World Zionist Organization took place in Basel, with Herzl as president[iii].

This is the foundational landmark, the starting point of the modern Zionist movement, whose motivational axis and strategic political objective is the establishment of an independent State in Palestine.

At the end of his book Herzl wrote “The Jews who want will have their state. They will finally be able to live as free men on their own soil, and die in peace in their homes.”

The prediction, perhaps a hopeful prophecy by Herzl, was, as subsequent events demonstrated, quite compromised, as the soil on which they settled was not exactly theirs, and not all Jews are able to die in peace in their own homes. Nor, in fact, especially their Arab neighbors, who in addition to losing their lands, lost their autonomy and freedom and their lives in a far from peaceful way. 

In any case, since the beginning of the 1920th century with the end of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent British Mandate of Palestine (1948/XNUMX), Jews in diaspora throughout Europe and Eurasia have been heading to the region, in groups, individually, in flows and waves. migrants, legally or illegally, settling on the lands, by purchase, occupation, taking them by storm, through wars or colonialist State policies.

Over these decades, several geopolitical realignments have occurred between those who support Palestinians or Jews; There are many crossed interests, positions that alternate, inconsistent promises, commitments that are not fulfilled, allies that become adversaries and vice versa, peace treaties that are not respected, friction, conflicts, attacks and wars that make the Palestinian issue a imbroglio looking for a solution.

Palestine is an area of ​​the eastern Mediterranean region, comprising parts of what became the State of Israel in 1948, and the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the West Bank west of the Jordan River.

2. Jewish settlements/occupation in Palestine: a report

Son of a Hungarian father and a Viennese mother, both prosperous and educated Jews, he was a “prodigy” student, interested in mathematics and science. In 1925, at the age of 20, one year before graduating from the Vienna Polytechnic, he abandoned his studies, an unusual attitude among young people of those decades, whose common denominator was a feeling of absurdity of living in a world that made no sense.

These concerns in the face of a world in which it sought the infinite and driven by obsessions around the absolute proved to be sterile. Faced with these frustrations and perplexities, he is now looking for a substitute, a ersatz, in utopias of one kind or another. Motivated by similar searches, as he tells us, he is first led to the Promised Land, then to the Communist Party.

Thus, in 1925, after abandoning his studies and following a flow of Jews that had already begun in the previous decade, he went to live on a kibbutz in Palestine.

In 1931, at the age of 26, already one of the main journalists in Germany, he joined the Communist Party, following, as he says, a quote by Pablo Picasso, “as if going to a source of fresh water”. In 1932 he traveled to the Soviet Union where he stayed for approximately a year.

Internationally known for the book Darkness at Noon (1940), published in Brazil by Editora Globo in 1964 as Zero and infinity, one of the most devastating anti-Stalinist libels, fictionalizes Bukharin's trial, in the so-called Moscow Trials.

He was imprisoned numerous times in different countries, in Francoist Spain, in France, as an undesirable immigrant at the outbreak of war, interned in the La Vernet concentration camp, although he wanted to enlist as a combatant in the French army, which he did when he later entered in the Foreign Legion; in England, for six weeks, for having entered with false documents at the height of the hysteria about the Fifth Column, in the face of collective fear of infiltrated spies, when he also wanted to enlist in the English army.

In the Spanish Civil War, in the service of the Third International, he used his journalistic credentials to obtain authorization in 1937, in the search for evidence that Franco was receiving support from German Nazism and Italian fascism; prisoner received death sentence from the Francoist government; He gained freedom in a prisoner exchange and moved to England.

Disappointed with the Soviet regime, which he considered increasingly totalitarian and not sufficiently opposing the rising fascism in Europe, he left the German Communist Party in 1938 and began to denounce Stalinism. He maintained for some time what he calls the “romantic and naive leftist vision of the Rose Years of the 30s; certain illusions about Soviet Russia, and the international solidarity of the working classes as the best guarantor of peace…”.

After the War, he became one of the most strident voices of anti-communism (although he identified with democratic socialism). Journalist, essayist, novelist, he maintains literary or friendly relationships with figures such as Walter Benjamin, George Orwell, Bertrand Russel, Camus, Sartre, among others.

These notes on Koestler are not to outline his profile as a prestigious intellectual and notable literary man of the first half of the 1920th century, but mainly to introduce someone unsuspected of anti-Semitism, who experienced with initial enthusiasm an experience in the kibbutz that were forming in Palestine in the 30s. /1948, a process that would lead in XNUMX to the establishment of the State of Israel.

What he found there and disappointed him were different practices and guidelines, but what interests us here were his criticisms of the hoarding (theft, seizure) of Palestinian lands, which the kibbutzim took by storm in the dead of night. 

He describes this process in his 1945 book Thieves in the Night (Thieves in the Night), in which groups of young Jews were organized in the first settlements in Palestine to literally take over Arab lands, usually communal, to expand their presence and dominance.

Dominion in its various senses, initially possession of land and subsequently, as demonstrated in the following decades, increasing control, jurisdiction, power, authority and sovereignty.

Until now, in an apparently smooth and almost casual way, everything had gone according to plan.

Three hours earlier, at one in the morning, the forty young men of the Defense Squadron, who were to form the vanguard, had gathered in the communal dining hut of Gan Tamar, the ancient settlement from which the expedition was to begin. In the large, vaulted, empty cafeteria, the boys looked very young, clumsy, and sleepy. They were mostly under nineteen, born in the countryside, children and grandchildren of the first generation of Petakh Tikwah, Rishon le Zion, Metullah, Nahalal.

Hebrew for them was their native language, not a precariously acquired art; the country, your country, neither promise nor fulfillment. Europe for them was a legend of glamor and dread, the new Babylon, a land of exile where the elderly sat by the rivers and wept. They were mostly blond, freckled, broad-featured and heavy-boned, and clumsy; sons of farmers, peasant boys, not very Jewish in appearance and a little boring.

They were not haunted by any memories and had nothing to forget. They had no ancient curse upon them and no hysterical hope; they had the peasant's love of the land, the student's patriotism, the piously hypocritical conceit of a very young nation. They were Sabras – nicknamed after the thorny and somewhat tasteless fruit of the cactus, grown in arid, resistant, hard-living, scarce land.

There were among them some Europeans, new immigrants from the new Babylon. They underwent the harsh, ascetic training of Hekhaluz and Hashomer Hatzair, youth movements that combined the fervor of a religious order with the dogmatism of a socialist debate club. Their faces were darker, narrower, sharper; already carried the stigma of “things to forget”. It was there, in the more accentuated curvature of the nasal bone, in the bitter sensuality of the fuller lips, in the knowing look of the moist eyes. They seemed nervous and tense among the phlegmatic and robust Sabras; more enthusiastic and less trustworthy.

Everyone was sitting around the rustic tables in the cafeteria, heavy with sleep and silent. The bare light bulbs hanging from the ceiling wires; they emitted a dark and sad light; the chipped salt shakers and cruet cups formed useless little oases on the empty communal tables.

About half of them wore the uniform of the Settlement Police – khaki tunics that were mostly too big for them and quaint Bersaglieri hats that made their faces look even more adolescent. The others, who were not wearing uniforms, were part of the Haganah – the illegal self-defense organization whose members, when caught defending a Hebrew settlement, were sent to prison along with the attackers.

Finally Bauman, the leader of the detachment, arrived. He wore riding breeches and a black leather jacket – a relic of the street fighting in Vienna in 1934, when the evil dwarf Dollfuss ordered his field guns to fire at point-blank range on the balconies, lined with geranium boxes and dust cloths. dry, from the workers' tenements in Floridsdorf, making the sign of the cross after each volley. Bauman received his leather jacket and his illegal but thorough military training in the ranks of the Schutzbund; he had the round, jovial face of a Viennese baker; only in the rare moments when he was tired or angry did he reveal the imprint of things to forget. In his case, there were two: the fact that his people lived behind one of those little balconies with boxes of geraniums; and the hot, wet sensation on his face caused by the saliva of a good-natured jailer in Graz prison every morning at six o'clock when breakfast was served in the cells.

“Well, you lazy bums,” said Bauman, “get up; Pay attention, stay there.” His Hebrew was quite choppy. He lined them up along the wall that separated the dining room from the kitchen.

“The trucks will be here in twenty minutes,” he said, rolling a cigarette. “Most of you know what this is about. The land we are going to occupy, about fifteen hundred acres, was purchased by our National Fund several years ago from an absentee Arab landowner named Zaid Effendi el Mussa, who lives in Beirut and has never seen him.. It consists of a hill on which the new village, Torre de Esdras, will be built, the valley that surrounds it and some pastures on the nearby slopes. The hill is a mess of rocks and hasn't seen a plow for a thousand years, but there are traces of ancient terraces (flat land) dating back to our days. In the valley, some fields were cultivated by Arab tenants from Zaid Effendi, who live in nearby Kfar Tabiyeh. They received compensation equivalent to about three times the value of the land so they could buy better land on the other side of their village; one of them even built himself an ice factory in Jaffa.

“Then there is a Bedouin tribe who, unbeknownst to Zaid Effendi, used to graze their camels and sheep in the pastures every spring. Your Sheikh received compensation. When all this was resolved, the residents of Kfar Tabiyeh suddenly remembered that part of the hill did not belong to Zaid, but was masha'a land, which is the communal property of the village.

This part consists of a strip about eighty meters wide that runs straight to the top of the hill and cuts it in two. According to the law, masha'a land can only be sold with the consent of all village members. Kfar Tabiyeh has 563 souls distributed across eleven hamulles or clans. The elders of each clan had to be bribed separately, and the fingerprints of each of the 563 members taken, including those of the babies and village idiots. Three villagers emigrated years ago to Syria; they had to be tracked and bribed. Two were in prison, two died abroad, but there was no documentary evidence of their deaths; it had to be obtained. When it was all over, each square meter of barren rock cost the National Fund about the price of a square meter in the business centers of London or New York.

He threw away the cigarette and wiped his right cheek with the palm of his hand. It was a habit that originated from his experience with the humorous jailer of Graz.

“It took two years to finish these small formalities. When they finished, the Arab rebellion broke out. The first attempt to take possession of the site failed. The future settlers were met with a hail of stones by the residents of Kfar Tabiyeh and had to give up. In the second attempt, carried out with greater force, they were shot and lost two men. That was three months ago. You are making the third attempt and this time we will succeed. Tonight the palisade, the watchtower and the first huts will have been erected on the hill.

“Our detachment will occupy the site before dawn. A second detachment will accompany the convoy of settlers that will leave two hours later. The Arabs will not know until daybreak. Problems during the day are not likely. The critical period will be the first few nights. But then the Place will be fortified.”

“Some of our cautious knuckleheads in Jerusalem wanted us to wait for calmer times. The Place is isolated, the next Hebrew settlement is eleven miles away, and there is no road; it is surrounded by Arab villages; It is close to the border with Syria. where terrorists infiltrate. These are precisely the reasons why we decided not to wait. As soon as the Arabs understand that they cannot prevent us from exercising our rights, they will reach an agreement with us. If they see signs of weakness and hesitation, they will first strip us and then drown us in the sea. That's why Ezra's Tower has to wait tonight. - That is all. We have five minutes left; single line in the kitchen to have coffee.”

This description of the Zionists' progressive and aggressive seizure of Palestinian lands, with a view to the projected institution of a State, seems to follow the old pattern of clan communities to transform themselves into nations, through wars waged cruelly and destructively, motivated by greed and ambition. Even after the establishment of Israel as a State in 1948, it seems that its successive leaders do not give up this standard, plus an action, whose means and ends claim to be providentially determined, that is, they are referred to Providence in the last and decisive instance. .

This implies that the process of state building, analyzed by political science, in the Israeli case, it seems to be based more on a reference of an ethical-religious community than on a political, civil-legal community. As can be seen from recent and current history, determining the character of a modern State by linguistic, cultural and religious considerations, and not by legal-political and economic considerations, often results in destructive authoritarianism, xenophobic nationalism, presumptions of superiority and supremacism. , if not, genocides.

 Post-World War II: the world is full of refugees, there are millions who have been displaced from their homes, their lands, their cities; thousands of villages wiped off the map, cities reduced to rubble and ashes. Most have nowhere to return, everyone is looking for a new home, a new home, perhaps a new homeland, where they could get work, food, reorganize and remake their lives.

In the Middle East, English colonialism is in force, ensuring trade routes; dominates and humiliates its people, who in turn are inspired by the verses of the Quran to unite and free themselves. The 100 Britons in Palestine, unsure of what to do, criticized for favoring the Arabs, are faced with bombs and Zionist terror (Irgun, Stern Gang); intend to transfer responsibility for the future of the Palestine issue to the UN. On February 18, 1947, Great Britain gave up its Palestine Mandate.

Contrary to the Arab League, which proposed creating an independent Palestinian state, the UN installed a committee with members from neutral countries to resolve the dispute (Australia, Sweden, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala, India, Iran, the Netherlands, Peru, Uruguay and Yugoslavia). . There will be many fruitless meetings, in which proposals proliferate and no one is satisfied.

Meanwhile, in devastated Europe, with the collaboration of UNRRA, the UN agency for the rehabilitation and relief of refugees, Zionism, through the Jewish Agency and kibbutzim movements, some with a socialist orientation and others not so much, await authorization to transfer hundreds of orphaned children to Palestine. The Agency pressures the British to allow a greater flow of Jewish migrants to Palestine, in addition to the 1,5 authorized per month; The British rule out President Truman's intervention to allow 100 Jews to enter. There are movements and initiatives for them to immigrate illegally to Palestine; while Arab leaders aim for a definitive moratorium on Jewish arrivals in the region.

Was there, in the compromise between the British and the Arabs, any relationship with oil imports? Could the US be trying to replace British imperialism in the Middle East? This is what they will do, supporting the creation of the Jewish State and then making it their spearhead in the region, with increasing economic, military and diplomatic support. 

With the Nazi defeat and without the persecution of the Jews, it seems that the idea of ​​a State for them would also be defeated. There was no shortage of suggestions to distribute them throughout Australia, Patagonia, or even Germany, as a form of compensation, or to be welcomed by charitable North American families. However, no country in Europe nor the US seems willing to receive them.

In May 1947, Andrei Gromyko, ambassador to the United Nations, announced a turnaround in the Soviet position on the future of Palestine. The Zionist movement ceases to be a lackey of capitalist imperialism and the Jews have recognized their historical roots in the region, and any solution must take into account their legitimate rights. It is a surprising statement, the reasons or motivations for which are not clear, but which puts the issue in different terms.

However, it is widespread among Arabs that Palestine belongs to them by right, it would be enough to recognize this fact; the UN committee is therefore irrelevant and useless.

Still in 1947, Great Britain appealed to UN member countries to prevent Jewish refugees from reaching Palestine; approximately 100 thousand have arrived there in recent years. Arab League leaders have no consensus; some distinguish “Jews” and “Zionists”, others do not. In fact, confusion that continues to this day in debates about the ongoing war, whether due to ignorance or calculation, depending on the interlocutors and their interests, spurious or legitimate.

While various committees issue their opinions and proposals based on analyses, documents (Balfour Declaration of 1917, Churchill White Paper, Woodhead Commission, Anglo-American Commission), without reaching conclusions or consensus, the Arab League decides not to cooperate with the committee of UN on the Palestinian issue.

The representatives of the 11 countries that make up the committee are divided between supporting the formation of a Jewish State, supporting the Arab cause, and basing their position on domestic calculations or in relation to Great Britain.

 Between the lack of internal consensus, the Arab boycott and difficulties of all kinds, the committee in charge of resolving the conflict in Palestine oscillates between disappointment, humiliation and irrelevance.

Between the pretensions of one and the other, for different reasons or reasons, the conclusion of the delegates is that the Palestinians lack connection with reality, in terms of demanding an independent State, while the Zionists are equally disconnected from reality when suggesting a peaceful coexistence with the Arabs in the future.

The committee's work, according to North American representative Ralph Bunche, is fruitless, its members are incompetent, sloppy and mediocre. It will be up to him to prepare the two solution proposals that the committee submitted to the UN General Assembly.

In July 1947, in yet another attempt to reach an agreement, the UN committee met with representatives of the Arab League in Beirut, with the conspicuous and deliberate absence of Grand Mufti Hajj Amin al-Husseini, leader of the Palestinian Arabs. The League's demands are for the immediate end of all Jewish immigration to Palestine and the creation of an independent Arab state on a democratic basis. They warn, in a premonition that turned out to be tragically real, that a Jewish state would lead to turmoil, conflict and war throughout the Middle East. As it turns out, the situation remained dangerous and intractable, racial hatred increased and wars followed.

Committee delegates suggest other solutions, some compromise, alternatives. Nothing prospers. No solution is agreed.

Among so many issues, impasses and difficulties, the Arabs' intransigent position against either a division, a binational state or a federation is the understanding that democratic rights and Palestinian self-determination would not be assured, and that they are not guilty of the Nazi genocide. , why should they be the ones to pay the price for it?

Finally, on August 31, at the UN offices in Geneva, the eleven delegates present their report for the solution of the Palestine question.

On November 26, 1947, the United Nations Special Committee for Palestine presented its partition proposal. In its provisional headquarters the General Assembly must vote on it, but the Zionists realize that if the vote takes place on this day there will be no State of Israel. Through traditional chicanery, a method of postponing votes that are presumed defeated, suggested by Oswaldo Aranha, who presided over the session, the Zionists seek to postpone it; To save time, some delegates take the floor by reading the Bible, singing hymns or listing promises from the prophet Isaiah. They therefore postpone the vote for 72 hours, which will take place on September 29th.

In this short interval, North American public opinion mobilized in support of a Jewish State. The Arab leadership is for an undivided Arab state with a Jewish minority, otherwise, they predict there will be bloody conflicts. US President Truman[v], which maintained a relatively measured position, ended up giving in to Zionist pressure. In the search for votes in favor of the Zionists, economic and diplomatic threats, blackmail and pressure are used.

The proposal to divide Palestine into two States was thus approved: 33 votes in favor, 19 against, 10 abstentions. Jubilation and hallelujah on the one hand, fury and wrath on the other; demonstrations follow: strikes, riots, looting, assaults, threats, with no shortage of Jewish terrorist acts by the Irgun, the Zionist paramilitary movement Haganah, the Stern Gang.

The expulsion of the Arab population will soon number thousands of refugees; Soon ahead will be Nakba, the violent displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people, along with the destruction of their society, culture, identity, political rights and national aspirations; there are 711 thousand Palestinian Arabs, according to UN data, resulting from the 1947-1948 civil war and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War[vi].

Conflicts follow: the Six-Day War of 1967, the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the First Intifada in 1987 (from which Hamas – Islamic Resistance Movement) originates, the Second, as a result of the provocation of Ariel Sharon, Israeli politician on the Temple Mount, where the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a sacred site for Muslims, is located, and the frustration that was accumulating over Israel's failure to comply with the terms of the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993. The ongoing sequence of friction between Palestinians and Jews has one of its most dramatic inflections on October 7, 2023.

4. War and genocide

By Hugo Grotius[vii], to the Paris Pact of 1928[viii] and the 1948 Genocide Convention[ix] there were diverse ideas, theories and initiatives to regulate the terms, parameters, limits within which wars occur, the reasons for their outbreak, the terms and conditions of peace, the assessment of their consequences and the responsibilities that arise from them. They are treaties, pacts, regulations to which most nations subscribe and which are sponsored and eventually implemented by international organizations, especially the UN and its units, since 1948.

In addition to these aspects of regulation, notably those that establish laws, conventions and courts, which constitute the formal aspects, there is another dimension that guides the occurrence of conflicts, especially the reasons for triggering and justifying them and the search for legitimation before the people. and the group of nations.

This is political rhetoric, which since the “Funeral Oration of Pericles”, (Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War) when mourning those killed by the war glorifies the State for which they died, in addition to justifying the actions and stirring the spirits of those who still remain at war.

 In today's conditions, this oratorical art is less a brilliant statement made by some general or ruler before his audience, aiming to persuade, encourage or mourn heroes killed in battle than a propaganda machine, activated without scruples to impose dubious versions or outright lies to advance interests, defend positions that may be indefensible, demonize or dehumanize opponents.

Obviously, the more powerful a contender is, the greater capacity for manipulation, dissemination of versions and imposition of their truth. This is the current case of Israel and its powerful allies vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

Its war rhetoric becomes increasingly unsustainable, every day it turns into propaganda, lies, manipulation; there is no defense of war for just reasons, for the dignity of a people, for their rights, for their sovereignty; these noble ideals and motives are on the other side, on the side of the Palestinians.

There are no more criteria, an ethic of prudence or moderation (already put forward by Thucydides), only retaliatory revenge; There are no Machiavellian dilemmas about the “legitimate means” that would allow the use of force, nor the “Kantian problem” that points to the issue of “universal peace” as a moral aspiration of a global law, replaced only by a “combat morality”. ; there are no more estimates of consequences, only destructive aggressiveness; , no moral reasons, just fury, and arrogance, pride and indifference in the face of the thousands of civilians killed, injured, displaced on the other side. All that remains is a naked, raw and dangerous “realism” that sees the conflict between the contenders as having only one possible resolution, an unquestionable victory for one of the sides, in this case, the Israeli side.

Add to this the repeated attempt to legitimize Israel's aggressive action through its presumed right to self-defense, and the repeated counterfeiting of the last decades of the “fight against terrorism”; It is unlikely that this time they will be able to print the fingerprints of their colonial and imperialist claws on history.

The right to self-defense, however, requires parameters and measures so that it is not just an inconsistent justification for triggering disproportionate retaliation and actions outside and beyond the scope of article 51 of the UN Charter (principles of necessity and proportionality).

 The great powers and their allies have recently expanded their understanding of when this right can be invoked to use force in the face of what, at their discretion, they perceive as terrorism and other threats to what they consider to be their national security or interests. strategic. It is a fact that in topical terms and in the face of armed action by groups that they call terrorists, an immediate response from those who are attacked seems justified. But such events and incidents of belligerence need to be understood in a larger context, which includes the history of clashes and armed actions of the various protagonists involved.

If we take the origin of the conflicts and the sequence of friction between Jews and Palestinians, and use Grotius' criteria to justify the war, “defense, recovery of what is ours and punishment” perhaps we could conclude which side is attacking and which defending themselves in these eight decades, who is the aggressor, who is the attacked.

What has been happening in Gaza since October 8, 2023, more than on other conflicting occasions, reinforces the position and legitimacy of the Palestinians, while decreasing that of the Jewish State, perceived as colonialist, oppressive, genocidal.[X]

As in the case of the Nazis tried in Nuremberg, not much proof was needed, as the regime's own documents denounced them, and the atrocities and barbarities committed were too evident; Also in Gaza, despite the partiality of Israeli and Western journalistic coverage, we instantly witness live and in color what is being perpetrated against the civilian population there, also through the reports of UN agencies, NGOs, humanitarian organizations, independent journalists, despite the difficulties in accessing the conflict area (Note, there is no record that so many of these professionals were killed in such a short period in conflict zones, as is currently happening in Gaza due to Israeli bombs).

Israel's brutal war against Gaza, which follows the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, delimits the arc of fire where civilizational parameters are twisted today.

It is a fact that there are several other conflict zones in the world that also violate rights, promote massacres, and produce thousands of refugees. But, due to the hegemonic interests that intervene in it, the history of conflicts in the region, the process of forced constitution of a State (Israel) and the scandalous impediment to the establishment of another (Palestinian), this is one of the most explosive focuses of tensions. worldwide in the last 8 decades.

If, faced with the complexity of the Jewish-Palestinian issue, it was not always possible to align international democratic forces with clarity, pertinence and propriety in relation to recurring disputes and conflicts, those who value human rights and a culture of peace today, in the face of military incursions and Israel's genocides in the Gaza Strip cannot hesitate; It is not enough to vehemently condemn this devastating aggressiveness of Netanyahu's ultra-right government, it is necessary to continue mobilizing, as has been the case, of everyone who wants not only the end of the war, but the right of Palestinians to their own independence and autonomy in their own State .

 Just as at the end of World War II the task and objectives of the victors were to denazify and democratize Germany, bring criminals to justice, punish human rights violations, consolidate peace, at the end of the present war in Gaza it is necessary, if If this were possible, “de-Zionize” the State of Israel, make it a democracy, which it claims to be, respecting the resolutions of international organizations, notably those of the UN, cease its colonialist voracity and recognize the right of the Palestinians to their autonomy and its State. This, without failing to hold their rulers accountable, classifying their crimes, firstly, possibly as genocide.

Afterwards there will be another war, after the current one ends, affronting the universal conscience of democrats and humanists; Western hegemonic powers, together with Israel, will do everything to assert their version of the facts, shifting focus, filtering events through forged evidence, unreliable investigations, emphasizing some episodes and dissolving others in the nebula of their propaganda machines.

What we see hammered every day by the Western press and by the Israeli government is the report of the horrors of October 7th, about the fulminant action of Hamas (in fact, actions similar to those perpetrated decades earlier by Zionist terrorist groups), and the fate of hundreds of Israelites kidnapped. As if these events, however hateful and regrettable, could not only be equivalent to, but be morally more abominable than the two tens of thousands of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army, the destruction of their cities, the displacement of almost two million inhabitants of Gaza, the devastation and unviability of their most basic means of life.

As so many observers have seen over the decades of Israel's occupation of Palestine, the repression and humiliation it imposes on its people outrage the conscience of millions. The reality of the confinement to which they are subjected is one of the biggest and most unacceptable scandals of the 21st century.

There is an understanding by some jurists, mentioned by Norman Finkelstein[xi], that there is no fundamental difference, according to international conflict laws, between “deliberately” targeting civilians (which Hamas has done) and “indiscriminately” targeting civilians (which Israel has done in Gaza).

Furthermore, according to Finkelstein, Israel, given the conditions of the siege in Gaza, similar to concentration camps, and the massive bombings, has been practicing genocide for much longer than this has been ongoing.

And here we come to one of the last most intellectually dishonest and politically outrageous tricks of the State of Israel and its supporters, in the vain attempt to disqualify any criticism of its colonialist, racist and genocidal policies in Palestine, as anti-Semitism (prejudice, hatred and persecution of Jews), by the ruse of equalizing it to anti-Zionism (Zionism: an ideology and a policy, whose core of intransigence prevents any modus vivendi with the Palestinian Arabs, aiming to establish and maintain a Jewish State)[xii].

Amid the ongoing debates, pressures, versions, opinions, investigations, legal filigrees about what is happening in Gaza, it is impossible not to see that a situation of genocide perpetrated by Israel is recognized by the conscience of the mobilized masses and by world opinion, conscience that is the foundation of the law, and the spirit of the concept proposed by Raphael Lemkin.

As Lemkin warned, genocide may already be underway, in certain situations, before we are fully aware of it, by which time it will be too late.[xiii].

*Remy J. Fontanasociologist, retired professor at UFSC. Author, among other books, of From splendid bitterness to militant hope – political, cultural and occasional essays (Insular Ed.). [https://amzn.to/3O42FaK]

Notes


[vii] Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) – celebrated as formulator of the theory of just war. Before him, different reasons were invoked to start wars; war was not seen as the breaking of the law, but was itself the law (war to expand national power; as a means of resolving disputes; if treaties were violated; as a means of collecting debts; if one sovereign kidnapped another's wife , etc.). War, he proposed, is an illegal resource, but States, faced with the need to correct what is wrong, can use it. He admits war for self-defense, but considers wars of conquest to be illegitimate. War is also justified for “what belongs to us” and “the punishment of a guilty person”. He also considered that international relations were subject to various moral demands, striving to limit the use of force.

[viii] The Paris Pact (Kellog-Briand Pact – General Treaty of Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy) of August 1928 launched a new international system in which sanctions would replace gunboat diplomacy; called on signatories to resolve their disputes by peaceful means; largely ineffective in preventing conflict or war. However, it served as the legal basis for the concept of crime against peace adopted by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the Tokyo Tribunal after World War II. Somewhat moralistic and legalistic in its intention to declare wars illegal, for the first time in history, it was a milestone from which significant changes to the rules of war were triggered. The treaty owes much to Salmon Oliver Levinson (29/12/1865 – 2/2/1941), a peace activist in the 1920s; he observed, by the way, “We should have done this, not as…laws of war, but laws against war; just as there are no laws of murder or poisoning, but laws against them.”

[ix] The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The term is due to the Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin and his obsessive campaign for genocide to be adopted by the UN to criminalize “acts committed with the intention of destroying, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group” . On September 27, 1947, the prosecutor of the ninth Nuremberg trial mentioned the concept of genocide, still without legal status, in consideration of Raphael Lemkin's efforts.

[X] Israel's disproportionate use of force in its confrontations with the Palestinians has been part of the chronicle of international relations for many decades; Likewise, the use of the term genocidal has attempted to characterize its warlike actions since at least 1982, when “the UN general assembly held Israel responsible for an act of genocide against the Palestinian people living in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, in Lebanon. The vote was 123 to 0. The USA abstained. The three days of murders, mainly of women and children, were overseen by Ariel Sharon, a man who would later become Prime Minister of Israel. Although an independent Israeli commission found Sharon indirectly responsible for the massacre, no one was ever held accountable” (The ICJ ruling on Gaza is a wake-up call for Washington – Biden has to take note. Zaha Hassan, The Guardian, 28 Jan 2024).

[xi] Norman Finkelstein vs Alan Dershowitz On Israel-Palestine War With Piers Morgan, 13 Dec 2023. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHqs15gOv4k

[xii] See especially the interventions by University of Exeter historian Ilan Pappé, and journalist Mehdi Hasan (The Intercept, MSNBC, Al Jazeera) in the Debate: Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism. Mehdi Hasan and Ilan Pappé debate whether Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism with Times columnist Melanie Phillips and Israeli former Member of the Knesset Einat Wilf in this Intelligence Squared debate from June 2019. Available at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1VTt_THL4A

[xiii] In December 2023, South Africa formally accused Israel of violating the Genocide Convention, opening the case South Africa v. Genocide. Israel (Genocide Convention), due to Israel's actions during the Israel-Hamas War. On January 26, 2024, at the International Court of Justice, fifteen of the 17 jurists, legal experts from around the world, considered it plausible that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians. Only two judges (from Uganda and Israel) were ready to accept Israel's position, which made the genocide case presented by South Africa implausible.


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