Israel's righteous fury and its victims in Gaza
(2 January 2009) -- My visit back home to the Galilee coincided with the genocidal Israeli attack on
It is based first and foremost on sheer lies transmitted with a newspeak reminiscent of darker days in 1930s
But the lies and distorted representations are not the worst part of it. It is the direct attack on the last vestiges of humanity and dignity of the Palestinian people that is most enraging. The Palestinians in Israel have shown their solidarity with the people of Gaza and are now branded as a fifth column in the Jewish state; their right to remain in their homeland cast as doubtful given their lack of support for the Israeli aggression. Those among them who agree -- wrongly, in my opinion -- to appear in the local media are interrogated, and not interviewed, as if they were inmates in the Shin Bet's prison. Their appearance is prefaced and followed by humiliating racist remarks and they are met with accusations of being a fifth column, an irrational and fanatical people. And yet this is not the basest practice. There are a few Palestinian children from the occupied territories treated for cancer in Israeli hospitals. God knows what price their families have paid for them to be admitted there. The Israel Radio daily goes to the hospital to demand the poor parents tell the Israeli audience how right
There are no boundaries to the hypocrisy that a righteous fury produces. The discourse of the generals and the politicians is moving erratically between self-compliments of the humanity the army displays in its "surgical" operations on the one hand, and the need to destroy Gaza for once and for all, in a humane way of course, on the other.
This righteous fury is a constant phenomenon in the Israeli, and before that Zionist, dispossession of
It is crucial to explore the ideological origins of this attitude and derive the necessary political conclusions form its prevalence. This righteous fury shields the society and politicians in
The self-righteousness is a powerful act of self-denial and justification. It explains why the Israeli Jewish society would not be moved by words of wisdom, logical persuasion or diplomatic dialogue. And if one does not want to endorse violence as the means of opposing it, there is only one way forward: challenging head-on this righteousness as an evil ideology meant to cover human atrocities. Another name for this ideology is Zionism and an international rebuke for Zionism, not just for particular Israeli policies, is the only way of countering this self-righteousness. We have to try and explain not only to the world, but also to the Israelis themselves, that Zionism is an ideology that endorses ethnic cleansing, occupation and now massive massacres. What is needed now is not just a condemnation of the present massacre but also delegitimization of the ideology that produced that policy and justifies it morally and politically. Let us hope that significant voices in the world will tell the Jewish state that this ideology and the overall conduct of the state are intolerable and unacceptable and as long as they persist, Israel will be boycotted and subject to sanctions.
But I am not naive. I know that even the killing of hundreds of innocent Palestinians would not be enough to produce such a shift in the Western public opinion; it is even more unlikely that the crimes committed in
And yet, we cannot allow 2009 to be just another year, less significant than 2008, the commemorative year of the Nakba, that did not fulfill the great hopes we all had for its potential to dramatically transform the Western world's attitude to Palestine and the Palestinians.
It seems that even the most horrendous crimes, such as the genocide in
Academically, this has already been done. Our main challenge is to find an efficient to explain the connection between the Zionist ideology and the past policies of destruction, to the present crisis. It may be easier to do it while, under the most terrible circumstances, the world's attention is directed to
Similarly, we may be able to find the popular, as distinct from the high brow academic, way of explaining clearly that
Some of us, namely those committed to justice and peace in
By connecting the Zionist ideology and the policies of the past with the present atrocities, we will be able to provide a clear and logical explanation for the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions. Challenging by nonviolent means a self-righteous ideological state that allows itself, aided by a mute world, to dispossess and destroy the indigenous people of
Ilan Pappe is chair in the Department of History at the
My visit back home to the Galilee coincided with the genocidal Israeli attack on