A planned killing

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By CLAUDIO KATZ*

The consequences of the Palestinian tragedy and the submission of justice to the whitewashing of Israel's crimes

Israel's bombings of Gaza are consummating one of the greatest crimes in contemporary history. They include hospitals, schools and refugee camps. They use unknown weapons that melt the skin, cause burns, and prevent treatment of the injured. Patients are also operated on without anesthesia from the atrocious consequences of white phosphorus.

There is no longer any bread, very little water remains and the smell of death has spread to the countless number of victims lying under the rubble. Among the 11.000 deaths recorded so far, there are more than 3.000 children. Every fifteen minutes, a minor is murdered, and many children write their names on their hands, to enable them to be identified if bombs tear their bodies to pieces.

The tragedy is worsened by the blockade of trucks carrying humanitarian aid. They only gradually access the epicenter of the massacre. The majority of the population survives in the open air, without food or healthcare. They pray that the next missile doesn't fall on their heads.

Israel carries out planned killings with impunity. Announce the location of weapons discharges before the start of each attack. Implement punishment against the civilian population, as other belligerent powers carried out against defenseless multitudes. It repeats in Gaza the suffering suffered by the Germans in Dresden and the Japanese in Hiroshima. These savage reprisals against cities turned into shooting ranges were also the norm for all colonialists.

But what generates the most outrage is the double standard of the main information coverage. In these broadcasts, the life of an Israeli child is of incalculable value and the survival of a Palestinian child is irrelevant.

Gaza has been transformed into a huge fake news laboratory. These lies involve what happened during the Hamas operation. They hide the military condition of a large part of the Israelis killed and the fact that there were no rapes or beheadings of innocent people. Friendly fire from the Zionist army itself would have resulted in a high number of deaths.

The magnitude of this disinformation adds to the scandalous number of Palestinian journalists murdered. It is enough to remember the massacres perpetrated in the past in Sabra, Shatila, Jenin or Deir Yassin to reinforce the credibility of reports of current atrocities.

The invasion of Gaza is the fourth since 2006 and prolongs the Nakba suffered by the Palestinians. This population suffers from the systematic expulsion from their lands by a colonial occupier. The objective of spoliation is to empty the entire area of ​​its original inhabitants, to replace them with immigrants of Jewish origin. The homes of 5,5 million refugees were occupied by families from abroad, who immediately obtained Israeli citizenship.

Just look at the successive maps of the country (1948, 1973, 2001, 2021) to see the impressive expansion of its territory. Since the middle of the XNUMXth century, the colonialist project has been methodically developed in three distinct areas.

The first is the West Bank. In the last two decades, 650.000 settlers have appropriated the water and the best agricultural land. They reinforced this expropriation with the construction of an intricate network of walls, fragmenting Palestinian communities into small incommunicable islands. The objective is to annex the entire region, confining those who do not escape to a status similar to that of Indians on US border reservations.

The second victim of spoliation are the Israeli Arabs, subject to a apartheid internal very similar to the South African antecedent. They constitute a minority without rights, who face the daily hostility of their powerful oppressors unarmed.

In the third segment of Zionist aggression, ethnic cleansing prevails. In Gaza, a meticulous genocide is being carried out, which has transformed this territory into an open-air concentration camp. The victims of the massacre were deprived of any alternative refuge.

As Israel is unable to expel them from its tiny territory, it chose to finish them off with bombings. Precede these attacks with announcements of the carnage, knowing that the local inhabitants have blocked their exits across both borders. Evacuation warnings are, in effect, a simple death sentence.

Ingenuity, heroism and political assessment

Hamas' successful operation introduced a shocking new twist to the dramatic sequence of murders that Palestinians have endured. The surprise generated by this incursion far surpassed the consternation caused by the Yom Kippur war. With a spectacular operation, Hamas destroyed Israel's image as an invulnerable power.

The deterrence capacity of the Zionist military apparatus was seriously affected by the feat of the Palestinian brigades. They crossed the border and neutralized a sophisticated IT barrier that cost 1 billion dollars with simple drones. Hamas humiliated an army that thought itself invincible and, for the first time in decades, achieved a certain initial parity of casualties in clashes with its enemy.

The attackers achieved the main objective of their operation, which was to capture hostages to negotiate the release of Palestinian prisoners. This feat sparked mass celebrations in the Arab world. It also generated great recognition for the new generation of fighters that emerged in the West Bank, from the ashes of the discredited Palestinian National Authority (ANP). For a brief moment, David defeated Goliath and awakened the memory of other admirable feats of anti-colonialism (such as the Vietnamese Tet offensive).

The Western press tries to hide the success of Hamas' incredible action. His militiamen disabled surveillance cameras with new distraction tactics and used fan-powered paragliders to attack military posts. This device complemented improvements in training and the improvement of tunnels.

The resistance appealed to the violence that Israel has established as the norm in Gaza. Many young Palestinians, who can no longer live imprisoned in their tiny refuge, chose to die in a heroic operation.

Hamas did not improvise its incursion and attacked, assessing that the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia led to the definitive consolidation of the Zionist occupation. He launched his courageous operation to destroy this consecration of colonial domination.

Adventures that threaten the imperial counteroffensive

Israel hopes to neutralize Hamas, with the same recipe it used to contain the ANP in the West Bank and the Arab-Israeli community in its territory. But it remains to be seen whether he will be able to break the resistance mounted by his opponent in such hostile territory. He failed in his previous attempts and had to remove the settlers he had placed in the area.

Zionists try to precipitate a new Nakba to Egypt, but the Palestinians refuse to add refugee status. Cairo also resists this displacement, remembering the national fracture generated by these waves in Jordan and Lebanon.

Netanyahu also faces the major hostage dilemma. So far, he has shown himself to be merciless and his bombings have resulted in the deaths of 50 of the hostages. His objective is to avoid a repeat of the devastating failure he had in the battle against Hezbollah in 2006. There are many critical voices that warn Tel Aviv of a potential quagmire in Gaza.

There is an alternative plan to Benjamin Netanyahu's rampant massacre. It is led by Joe Biden, several dictators and monarchs from the Arab world and the liberals of Israel (Barak) with the complicity of the ANP (Abbas). They promote the compulsory replacement of Hamas by a ghost government that perpetuates the status quo.

But the rejection of this solution by the Israeli right tends to increase the crisis to an explosive level. This opposition to any compromise with neighbors is a consequence of the reactionary turn that generated Israel's colonizing advance in the West Bank. The occupants of this region forged a fascist social base, specialized in pogroms against the Palestinians. They aspire to build a religious Jewish state very similar to Islamic theocracies.

This ultra-regressive project is based on the structural dehumanization imposed by prolonged military service. This conscription indoctrinates and disciplines the population into a criminal device. The primacy of the army is also fueled by a profitable, computerized military economy.

With these pillars, the extreme right gained the nationalist support of Eastern Jews, to the detriment of the secular tradition of liberal Zionism. It is the support that Benjamin Netanyahu is using to try to reform the judiciary in order to forge an authoritarian government.

But the huge street demonstrations that this essay has already provoked anticipate the resumption of internal clashes, which led to Rabin's assassination several decades ago. If this conflict resurfaces with greater intensity, it could generate the same crises with settlers that other Western governments have faced. De Gaulle's virulent clash with the ultra-rightists of the OAS – during Algeria's independence – is a precursor to the conflict that is maturing in Israel.

The Gaza crisis has already become a geopolitical problem that obstructs Joe Biden's imperial counteroffensive in Ukraine and the China Sea. It also erodes the Abraham Accords, which allowed Israel to establish diplomatic relations with several Arab governments. The most problematic thing for Washington is the distancing of the Saudis, because this reinforces the approach of the BRICS oil monarchy, its flirtation with China and its assessment of projects that favor the de-dollarization of the world economy.

The massacres in Gaza also threaten Egypt's alignment with the United States and block plans to repeat the operation carried out in Iraq in Syria. Israeli aggression also resurrects Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu's attempt to forcibly prevent Iran's conversion into a nuclear power. Tel Aviv is determined to prevent any challenge to its regional atomic monopoly. The global ultra-right – which idolizes Israel – awaits the next actions of a leader who is convulsing global geopolitics.

Civilians, hostages and comparisons

The Hamas operation was a legitimate attempt to erode the prison Israel built around Gaza. He exercised his right to armed resistance, overcoming the resignation that prevails in the ANP.

This courageous attitude sparked countless controversies within progressivism and on the left, the clarification of which requires us to remember, first of all, that Israel is a terrorist State responsible for countless crimes. On the contrary, Hamas acts as a political-military organization of the Palestinian resistance and does not include the characteristics that could place it in the world of terrorism. Its methodology prevents deliberate attacks against civilians and curbs the individual sacrifices of suicide bombers, who self-destruct in the vicinity of the enemy.

Hamas has massive support from the population and has confirmed its primacy at the polls. It does not act alone. Their spectacular incursion was accompanied by other organizations (Jihad, FPLP, FDLP) that publicly supported the operation. This body of evidence confirms the branch of Hamas among the inhabitants of Gaza and makes its comparison with Bin Laden ridiculous.

With his operation on the border, he sought to take hostages to facilitate a prisoner exchange. There is nothing original or new in this habitual practice of warfare. Hamas immediately proposed the prisoner exchange, recalling that to date 38 agreements of this type have been concluded.

Equating Hamas with Benjamin Netanyahu is a frequent mistake made by some exponents of progressivism. It takes up the misconception of the “two demons”, forgetting the abyss that separates an oppressor from an oppressed, and a colonialist State from a dispossessed people. It is not true that both parties have the same right of defense, since one of them acts as an attacker. There is no equivalence in Gaza between executioners and victims, nor parity in the West Bank between prison guards and prisoners.

In other assessments, the similarity between Palestinian resisters and the Israeli right is justified by the indication that both parties opt for violence to the detriment of a political solution. But it is omitted that Hamas accepts the two-state solution, which Israeli governments dispersed to force the annexation of the West Bank.

It is also questioned that Hamas carries out military operations against civilians, ignoring the abysmal difference that separates it from Israel in this regard. The number of innocent victims caused by Palestinian militiamen is insignificant when compared to the massacres carried out by the Zionist State. Furthermore, the division between civilians and military is very thin in Israel, given the general militarization of the population and the deadly role of the settlers who simultaneously assume both profiles.

Some thinkers also remember that Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and that it acts as a religious-fundamentalist organization, promoting projects that are harmful to the desire for equality or democracy. This is true and helps to remind us of the harmful effect of confessional policies that divide the oppressed. This path could lead to the formation of theocratic-reactionary states as prevails in Iran. Not that the regressive consequences of a brand that corrodes so many societies in the Arab world should be silenced.

But Hamas's negative profile does not alter the legitimacy of its anti-colonial resistance. It is one of the main Palestinian organizations facing Zionist oppression. To return to an often mentioned (but little conceptualized) comparison, the activities of the Warsaw ghetto involved Zionists, socialists, religious and non-partisans. This diversity of militants shared the same heroism and the affiliation of each member of the resistance was not relevant in the battle against the Nazis. The same assessment extends today to all currents in the Palestinian universe.

Some thinkers praise Hamas' bravery, but question the effectiveness of its actions. They consider continued armed action against an enemy as powerful as Israel useless. They understand that Zionist military superiority is overwhelming and that any challenge in the field of war is doomed to failure. Interestingly, they do not extend these contrasts to other ongoing conflicts (such as in Ukraine) and omit that Israel has been defeated on some occasions (for example, in Lebanon).

In fact, it is very difficult to say beforehand which battles have the possibility of success and which will turn out to be lost bets. Few voices predicted the astonishing victories that changed the course of contemporary history. Hamas leaders themselves are aware of the adversities they face, but remember that no people choose the conditions under which they must fight. They also highlight the enormous sacrifices made by the Soviets against the Nazis, by the Vietnamese against the Marines and of the Algerians against French troops as precedents for their own action.

The strategy of replacing armed struggle with mobilizations, strikes and pickets is also highlighted, in order to achieve a confluence with Israeli workers, in a common action against oppressors throughout the region.

But this convergence – expressed in the usual terms of left-wing internationalism – faces, in this case, serious obstacles. Israel is already a nation with its own singularities and rights, but it is based on a Zionist platform that obstructs the convergence of oppressed peoples from different communities. This confluence is necessary and possible, but it is only one ingredient of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle. The success of this battle requires military defeats that neutralize Israeli expansionism.

Campaigns, examples and priorities

Very few events have the global impact of what happened in Gaza. There is great sensitivity to the Palestinian cause in all corners of the world. It is a flag that recreates the political polarization between left and right and impels people to make unequivocal statements.

Street demonstrations in favor of both sides multiply, creating an unusual variety of scenarios. British labor collapsed amid gigantic mobilizations, the French government validated the Zionist marches and banned their Palestinian counterpart. But solidarity with Gaza gains supporters everywhere, and dockworkers at many ports have refused to load war material for Israel.

It is also surprising that, in the United States, a growing part of the Jewish community is taking to the streets to demand that Israel's crimes not be committed in “our name.” Recognized artists and intellectuals add their voices to the demand for a ceasefire, and the campaign to establish a boycott of academics of Israeli institutions is increasing.

Immediate demands are very precise. The immediate end of bombings, the unrestricted entry of humanitarian aid and the protection of the civilian population by the UN. These demands feed back into the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign against the Zionist regime, which is being promoted by many international organizations.

Such actions are also a response to the unilateral request for the release of hostages held by Hamas, without considering the corresponding prisoner exchange. It is completely biased to call for pacification on one side, ignoring the counterpart on the other. Israel keeps countless civilians imprisoned in rigged trials and the mistreatment inflicted on Palestinian minors surpasses anything known.

The ongoing conflict also reignites the debate about long-term solutions to the main conflict in the Middle East. The counterpoint between the two-State formula and the one-State proposal reappears, without there being a horizon for implementation of any of these options. The expectation of two states was destroyed by the reinforcement of colonization after the Oslo pantomime. But the possibility of an eventual coexistence between both nations is not excluded, if, at some point, Israel returns to the 1967 borders, along with some form of return of refugees.

The opposite perspective of a single democratic and secular state – which takes up the old PLO flag and imitates the South African model – is the best perspective. But its viability is a persistent unknown. At the moment, the only thing that is certain is that the creation of both solutions involves the active resistance of the Palestinian people. The right to fight this battle by all means is the ordering principle of any progressive scenario for the Middle East.

Latin America and Argentina

In Latin America, there is the same tension as in other places in the world, between protesters for and against the Palestinian cause. But the definitions of certain governments have an impact outside the region. Bolivia's decision to break diplomatic relations with Israel is the best example of the behavior to adopt. It is an attitude that is in line with that of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

This drastic stance paves the way for isolating a criminal regime, recreating the campaign that helped demolish the apartheid South African. The oppression of the white minority over the black majority in Southern Africa was not broken by simple UN declarations. O apartheid was buried with actions of explicit confrontation that left racists in total global loneliness. Repeating this formula against the Zionist regime is the most effective way to strengthen the Palestinian struggle.

Also in Colombia, Gustavo Petro demonstrated dignified conduct by suspending relations with Israel and opening an embassy in Ramallah. He is well aware of the active participation of Zionist gendarmes in the killings perpetrated by Uribismo paramilitaries. On the contrary, Gabriel Boric forgot how Israeli mercenaries trained Chilean gendarmes to shoot in the eyes, during the 2019 uprising. AMLO and Lula bring ingredients of a different kind to the table, by postulating themselves as mediators of a ceasefire.

For many reasons, Argentina is the region's main actor in the Middle East conflict. Not by chance, it is the country with the most foreign hostages held by Hamas. The proportion of immigrants of Jewish origin from the Southern Cone is high (even in the border areas).

Since Menemism, Argentina has been closely linked to the different vicissitudes of Israel's confrontation with its neighbors. This is why Buenos Aires was the tragic epicenter of the attacks on the embassy and AMIA. In recent decades, the Zionist right has achieved an unprecedented degree of influence in the country's politics, through numerous figures. Macrism is its main ally and has facilitated Mossad's penetration of all intelligence service networks. Arms trafficking has been a field of great association between Israel and Argentine gendarmes and capitalists.

This intensity of relations with Tel Aviv resurfaced, with statements from the establishment in favor of Israel. This favoritism extends to the biased media coverage of events in Gaza. There is a platoon of correspondents on one side and total misinformation about what is happening in the opposite camp. The right-wing PROs have upped the ante and are demanding the criminalization of voices in favor of Palestine. They demand that defenders of this cause be penalized with terrorism charges in the courts.

But the most scandalous is the submission of justice to the whitewashing of Israel's crimes. Alberto Fernández's government is experiencing its usual indeterminacy, but Sergio Massa unambiguously supports those responsible for the ongoing massacre. He was the most emphatic in condemning Hamas during the presidential debates and participates in meetings of the DAIA (Delegation of Argentine Israeli Associations) to repeat the Zionism script. In this field, he is no different from Javier Milei.

Fortunately, the response from the opposite camp grows stronger every day. This reaction is clearly visible in the participation in marches organized by groups of Arab origin, together with progressivism and the left. A growing portion of society is in tune with the Palestinian cause and expresses its admiration for the heroic resistance of a population that defends itself as best it can. If this extraordinary will to fight is accompanied by global solidarity, sooner or later Palestine will win.

*Claudio Katz is professor of economics at Universidad Buenos Aires. Author, among other books, of Neoliberalism, neodevelopmentalism, socialism (Popular Expression) [https://amzn.to/3E1QoOD].

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.


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