Israel’s dogs of war have been baying for blood for some time now. They have sniffed their prey with ravenous lust as if they have been the ones starved of food instead of the Palestinians whom they have primed for slaughter. Now the pack is encircling Gaza, teeth bared and snarling, while others do their dirty work from the skies. To them, the blood of women and children smells the same as that of the menfolk who fight to defend them.
If that description offends readers, then ethnic cleansing might be more palatable a term, or genocide used to such chilling effect in the last half century, although its focus was never the Zionist plan to cleanse Palestine of its people. The crimes and guilt run the full gamut of planning, executing, collaborating, watching and pretending that one does not see. Ah, watching and pretending – they are the reasons that the perpetrators of history’s horrors can carry out their deeds at all. Only when it is all over, do we whimper "we just didn’t see" and then more brazenly, "never again" until it suits us to remain silent once more.
We have seen such massacres before: Deir Yassin, Lydda, Sabra and Shatila, Jenin, Beit Hanoun and many more. While Israel serves up the same shabby reason for its dastardly deeds – security – it double dips and reduces one part of Palestine to rubble, and with the world looking on and distracted, it grabs more land from another part of Palestine to consolidate its illegal settlement project in the occupied West Bank.
A world conditioned to genocide of systematic wholesale slaughter and mass graves, finds it difficult to accept genocide in slow motion. However, the immense suffering of Palestinian dispossession, displacement, transfer, exile, occupation, collective punishment and mass imprisonment, is constantly drowned out by Israel’s claim to unending victimhood built on the legacy of the holocaust – a different time, a different place, different people and different narrative.
Since then, all is manufactured: God’s design, the clash of civilizations, "the war on terror". We have heard over and over again the clarion call of democracy, security and liberty being sounded over the corpses of people who have been denied their basic human rights and justice. And shamefully, the two-faced, craven accomplices of the Arab world sit on the sidelines hoping that these human sacrifices will appease the real lords of the puppet states they rule. Like Pontius Pilate, they wash their hands of sixty years of associated guilt by reciting pious platitudes while concerned only with their own crumbling puny seats of power. How little is the lesson learned from history, if at all – when one is expendable, so will others be also. Their time will come, but not before rivers of blood flow into the sea of Gaza.
Hamas has become the whipping boy of the Israeli/US camp and the Arab fiefdoms alike. Before them, it was Arafat and the PLO. An independent Palestine, whether secular or Islamic, was never in their game-plan. The whole 15-year peace process has been a sham, from Oslo to Annapolis. Instead, the Palestinians have seen their land diminished further, the viability of a state eroded and their own existence threatened as never before. In turn, Israel’s demands have become evermore shrill and imperious, clamouring for recognition and honours it does not deserve and receiving them from countries cowed into its service. Who would have imagined that one tiny pariah state could hold so much of the world hostage to its whims?
Israel’s leaders have never hidden their expansionist goals. The imminent elections now between rivals Ehud Barak, Binyamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni will be over who can deliver the ultimate Greater Israel. With the attack on Gaza, Barak and Livni are each trying to position themselves to sweep to victory in the wake of a Hamas wipe-out and the delivery of a shredded society in Gaza. Netanyahu is waiting in the wings and likely to emerge the victor whatever this military assault achieves. From past experience, that will be yet another cease-fire: senseless blood spilled that changes nothing for the Palestinians or the Israelis. It does, however, raise the spectre of the transfer of some 1.5 million exhausted Palestinians.
The West Bank would be next – subjugation in labour camps under a further weakened and acquiescent Palestinian Authority or another population transfer of the remaining 2.6 million Palestinians out of their homeland forever.
Transfer is just another euphemism for ethnic cleansing and is no mere conjecture. Tzipi Livni has recently suggested the transfer to the truncated West Bank of almost 1.5 million Palestinians living as second-class citizens in Israel, despite their roots in the land and residency long before Israel was created. As for the 4 million Palestinian refugees living in camps in the surrounding Arab states and who have a legitimate claim to return to the homes taken from them by Israel, their fate would be absorption into their host countries, with no compensation, reparation or justice for the catastrophic losses they have endured for over sixty years.
Gaza right now is the defining moment for defending Palestinian human rights and our own. The dogs of war, whoever they may be, are never very far off. All we have is our common humanity to drive them away. Let us begin by outrage over what is happening to the Palestinians, for well may we rage alone if the dogs of war ever decide to turn on us.
Sonja Karkar is the founder of Women for Palestine and co-founder of Australians for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia. She has written numerous articles on Palestine, which have been published in various e-journals and newspapers and accessed on the website she edits http://www.australiansforpalestine.com. She can be contacted at [email protected]