On hummingbirds and genocide
I was going to write a short thought on seeing an amazing little creature in my garden just now – a humming bird no bigger than a bumblebee, which made me almost shudder with joy at the sight. But then I read more on the genocide being waged against the people of Gaza by the Israeli military, and my heart is filled with pain. So much joy and beauty, and so much horror and suffering in one world – the contradictions are extreme, and dizzying.
Yesterday, the Israeli military shelled a refugee centre in Gaza – the only remaining place that had seemed safe. It was a UN school. They shelled the school and the playground. Women and children were the primary casualties, with over 200 wounded and 17 dead, blood covering the playground.
“UN school attacked in North Gaza. 13 at least killed. Bloody desks. Blood on ground. Terrified children.”
– Richard Engle, NBC News correspondent on the scene yesterday, via twitter
This was the fourth UN school to be shelled or bombed by the Israeli military in the past four days. The people of Gaza are being hunted down, even inside of UN refugee shelters. There are no words strong enough to condemn these acts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“There were approximately 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza before the current siege of Gaza and 750+ have been slaughtered in the last few days. A Palestinian child has died every hour, and with the death of the children goes the future of …the Palestinian people. The children who survive are traumatized with PTSD. A six year old child will have already experienced three wars in his or her lifetime. Unlike other people who flee war, Gazans are trapped. They have nowhere to go. And Palestinians in the West Bank, if they are able to leave, have no right of return.”
– The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)
“The incursion and bombardment of Gaza is not about destroying Hamas. It is not about stopping rocket fire into Israel. It is not about achieving peace. The Israeli decision to rain death and destruction on Gaza, to use lethal weapons of the modern battle field on a largely defenseless civilian population is the final phase in the decades long campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestinians.” – Chris Hedges
“The US-Israeli assault on Gaza escalated in January 2006, a few months after the formal withdrawal, when Palestinians committed a truly heinous crime: they voted “the wrong way” in a free election. Like others, Palestinians learned that one does not disobey with impunity the commands of the master, who never cease to orate about his “yearning for democracy” without eliciting ridicule from the educated classes, another impressive achievement.
Since the terms “aggression” and “terrorism” are inadequate, some new term is needed for the sadistic and cowardly torture of people caged with no possibility of escape, while they are being pounded to dust by the most sophisticated products of US military technology – used in violation of international and even US law, but for self-declared outlaw states that is just another minor technicality.”
– Noam Chomsky
The Israeli government of course rationalizes its actions, as all aggressors do. The Israeli aggression is rationalized by invoking the claim of self-defence. But it was the Israeli government who annexed, which is to say, stole Palestinian lands by military force and aggression. Unsurprisingly, the Palestinian people tried to defend themselves, and a few fought back, with what tiny means they had. And when the victims try to defend themselves, then the aggressors claim they are only acting in self-defence. Every aggressor from Stalin to Hitler has invoked the same self-deceiving, Orwellian logic – and it has no end. We attacked; they acted in self-defence: now we have the right to escalate our attacks and our aggression.
When some of the European settlers in America decided that the continent was theirs by divine right, and decided to push out the native peoples who happened to already be living there, and to kill those who refused to leave, it was not surprising that some of the native peoples decided to defend themselves. The acts of native self-defence were then taken as justification for a policy of extermination and genocide. The same pattern is playing out now in Gaza. And the aggressors are always delusional, mired in self-deceit and double-think, as Orwell so aptly called it.
“When Israel, in the occupied territories now, claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population that they’re crushing.” – Noam Chomsky
How does Israel get away with such blatant, long-standing violations of international law and human rights, and such acts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and flagrant aggression, which have now clearly escalated to the level of genocide? The answer is that Israel is a US client state. The US government views control over the Middle East as strategically critical to the maintenance of the American empire and its corporate interests – oil being the most obvious one. So the US in turn needs client states in the region, vassals to the Empire. For decades, Israel and Turkey have been the two leading US client states in the region, and have been massively provided with military backing. So when Israel defies international law, breaches human rights on a grotesque and recurring scale and manner, and commits war crimes and crimes against humanity, this cannot be criticized. Israel is our thug, and our thugs are always in the right. Our thugs are above the law, and above criticism.
When Saddam Hussein was a loyal puppet of Washington, he was our friend. When he disobeyed orders, he had to be taken out. But so long as the hired goons remain subservient to the master, they are beyond questioning – whatever they do is good and right.
It has to end somewhere. Even the pawns to empire are treated as expendable, we should bear in mind. Stalin made that lesson vividly clear, and it is the same with every empire.
The people of Israel, Palestine and the entire region are suffering and paying a high price for the imperial hubris and meddling of Washington, with increasing international blowback that is now global in its ramifications.
The madness has to stop. This is a beautiful world. Let us stop destroying it, and stop tormenting and killing one another. Let us live in peace. And if we are going to do that, we will need every ounce of our courage to stand up, speak out, and make peace, justice, freedom and ecological sanity a reality.
Stand now. Speak up for the people of Gaza, and for anyone, anywhere, who is under attack.
Listen, for a moment, to the words of one courageous Jewish woman, whom I admire greatly:
“Challenged below for why I am mourning genocide in Gaza. I mourn genocide in Gaza because I am the granddaughter of a family half wiped out in a holocaust and I know genocide when I see it. People are asking why I am taking this ‘side’. There are no sides. I mourn all victims. But every law of war and international law is being broken in the targeting of civilians in Gaza. I stand with the people of Gaza exactly because things might have turned out differently if more people… had stood with the Jews in Germany. I stand with the people of Gaza because no one stood with us. I went to synagogue last Friday night and had to leave because I kept waiting for the massacre of Gaza to be addressed. ..nothing. where is god? God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice. I turn in my card of faith as of now because of our overwhelming silence as Jews…I don’t mean Israelis, a separate issue…about the genocide now in Gaza.. I want no other religion than this, that is, seeing rather than denying my neighbor under fire and embracing rather than dismissing those targeted with annihilation and ethnic cleansing.”
– Naomi Wolf
In Gaza, the children, women and men do not have the luxury of admiring a beautiful bird in a beautiful little garden. They are facing bombs and machine gun blasts, and are barely hanging on. We need to stand with them, and speak out now.
J. Todd Ring,
July 25, 2015
UK Jewish MP Decries Israeli Government For Behaving Like Nazis: