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The colonial war

Sunday 11 January 2009, by Issam Aburaiya

The slaughterhouse that the Israeli army is creating in the Gaza Strip is part of a colonial war. Original artwork for the AIC by Yussef Katalo The slaughterhouse that the Israeli army is creating in the Gaza Strip is part of a colonial war. Racism and violence are thus a given within it. This Israeli racism is primarily expressed in a distinction between the value of life (and death) of a Jewish-Israeli person and that of a Palestinian. The life of the latter is conceived by a majority of Israelis as cheap, and from here it is possible to treat them in the way that the Israeli army is indeed treating them. No self-righteous mumbling about the value of human life and the refraining from harming civilians cannot hide this fact. This racism is further expressed in the Israeli fantasy that it can crown kings and force belligerent arrangements in the Middle East on the “inferior races”. The utter failure in attaining this goal in its first and second war against Lebanon does not prevent Israel from trying in Palestine.

Israel is attempting to recreate in an aggressive manner the political map and a change in the balance of power within Palestinian society. This desired change is intended not to promote a process of reconciliation and peace, as Tzipi Livni is attempting to market throughout the world, but in order to preserve, more or less, the present colonial situation: a continued fragmentation of the Palestinian territories, imprisonment of the “locals” in walled areas and a transformation of Israeli colonialism into something hazy and distant from Israeli society. The fact that the Europeans are financing the Israeli sub-contractor called the Palestinian Authority renders this Israeli colonialism extremely cheap. Moreover, numerous leaders throughout the world are beginning to be accustomed to this reality. However, most important for Israel is that the Palestinian question is more and more formulated not in terms of colonialism and a struggle for decolonialisaton, with all of their necessary associations, but as a humanitarian matter of food and medicines.

In simple terms, what Israeli is in essence offering the Palestinians are two options: a) acceptance, and even internalization, that they are not equal to the “owners of the land”, are enslaved in their homeland and must submit to every Israeli dictate; b) if they do not, their children and families, their land and possessions, will become a laboratory for experiments with Israeli weapons, amongst the newest and most sophisticated in the world. National independence, political sovereignty and human dignity are apparently rights that belong only to the Jewish-Israeli side, people of the West and agents of modernization in the Middle East. These are rights reserved for Ron Ben Yishai, Yoel Marcus, Ari Shavit, Ben Dor Yamini (all prominent Israeli journalists, AIC) and their friends.

According to this script, the Hamas movement is perceived (and rightfully so) as the sole popular power capable today of ruining this Israeli celebration. In other words, the primary problem in the eyes of Israel, the “moderate” Arab regimes, the United States and Europe that wish to get rid of the Palestinian issue (each one for its own reasons) is not this or that behaviour of the Hamas. The problem is the very existence of the Hamas (as the prominent Egyptian journalist Mahmoud Hasnein recently noted). From here, violence is not foreign and external to the Israeli policies, but built-in. Israel is not “compelled” to use force, as Barak and Livni contend. The use of force is “essential” and inherent in order to maintain the colonial equation.

However, despite its frequent use of frightening violence, Israel does not succeed in attaining its goals. Take Gaza, for example. Israel has employed all means in Gaza, to no end: “targeted” and massive bombings, limited and expanded ground forces, a brutal siege, starvation, destruction of infrastructure, a partial occupation and essentially, what didn’t it try? None of this resulted in the desired outcomes, such as an uprising of the population in Gaza against the Hamas movement (just as the masses in Lebanon did not come out against Hizbullah). Moreover, the Israeli leadership is unable to understand that destruction in horrifying proportions, massive killings that do not spare the elderly, women and children, and the almost sickening Israeli aspiration/desire to see Arabs surrendering and waving white flags is the problem and not the solution.

Additionally, this policy, if we place the moral aspect aside for a moment, results in three developments that actually weaken Israel: firstly, if Israeli leaders admit that the central problem is the motivation of Hamas to fight Israel, then its policy sows hatred, increases the motivation for revenge and expands the circle of violence and blood. This policy nourishes the desire to fight, die and sacrifice. Secondly, the frequent Israeli use of violence in historic proportions in recent years only strengthened the popularity of the Hizbullah and Hamas, not only in Palestine and Lebanon, but also in the Arab and Muslims worlds. In parallel, it weakened, and even humiliated, the “moderate” side that Israel and the United States contend they wish to strengthen. Additionally, as Israeli employs more and more murderous violence, it feels less and less secure. Israel is turning more and more into a military monster whose very existence requires ongoing killing and acts of butchery which are becoming more and more brutal. Israel is becoming a war machine, terrifying yet lacking in all moral grounding and not only in the eyes of the Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, wide swathes of Europe and the world in general, but also in the eyes of some Israeli Jews.

Only in this context it is perhaps possible to understand the quotes of (journalist) Yossi Melman from Haaretz and Professor Ruth Gavison, both of whom wondered/feared that “the state is perceived as the frontline soldier of western interests and that is forced, in order to survive, to live from the sword and whose end may be as an episode, another crusader episode.” “History will judge if like the crusaders, we will be a passing episode of military sovereignty in the region.” It is a shame, however, that Professor Gavison does not see that her support of the massive destruction caused by one of the most sophisticated war machines in history of the most densely populated area in the world against a starved and besieged population, a large part of whom are refugees resulting from establishment of the state of the Jews, will without a doubt influence how this history will be perceived.

Issam Aburaiya is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Seton Hall University, United States. This article was translated by the Alternative Information Center (AIC).

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