The American-Israeli narrative of ‘terrorist natives’

Israel/Palestine
on 9 Comments

It is a recurring nightmare. The sounds and smells are so familiar; the tension in the air so thick that you can see it like the grit and grime that collects on your clothes and shoes after being outside for only a short while.  In July, sand blows in off the shore whipping its tiny grains across your face until your eyes sting shut with tears. Drones buzz in the night sky and tracer flares speed past like little comets. In November there is a chill in the wind when the booms go off in the dusty overcrowded streets of Gaza. The killing is high speed and slow motion together; and later, in January, when the rains start, the streets will flood and the muck and debris of the earth surge upward making patterns of dirty, broken-lace detritus on the curbs and corners, unable to drain away quickly enough for easy passage. Dying in the cold and damp is worst of all when your limbs are left to bleed uncovered. Month after month, the leitmotif of death in all its creative varieties eats away at the people of Gaza.  Were it not so unnatural, we might wonder if the seasons had somehow been poisoned. 

Forty-six-year-old Ahmed al-Jabari and his companion, Mohammad al-Homs, were together in their car when Israel incinerated them with the astonishing accuracy of its high-tech, precision-strike weapons. Were they conscious in those last seconds? Did an instant of suspended animation allow them to bid their world  good bye? On the dark side of the Manichaean universe into which we have cast them,  is it heresy to imagine they may have loved or have been loved; that mourning and bereavement would ensue? That whole families would be shattered again by death?   Israeli aerial attacks hit 20 targets on the first day alone of the latest operation to target alleged “missile silos,” weapons’ storehouses, and ‘terrorists’ the righteous can kill with particular impunity – like Jabari, whose position as head of the Qassam Brigades, or military wing of Hamas, could hardly merit condemnation. 

Aerial strikes now soar into the hundreds and every non-combatant person is at risk. It is becoming more and more difficult to cover up the fact that the civilian population of Gaza, the families, children, shopkeepers, street vendors, pharmacists, doctors, construction workers, teachers, journalists, and others are not the ‘collateral damage’ in an angry war against “militants,” “terrorists,” and primitive rockets. Rather they are themselves are the primary targets. They are the ones who must be culled from the land. The “militants” are merely the means to their demise. The ‘unpeople’ who clutter the land like trash are the genuine, singular targets of US-Israel foreign policy, standing as they do between the messy, inconvenient present and the most sacred and coveted of goals: rule over the land unencumbered by Arabs; access and control of the resources with no pretense of sharing; open spaces for development and investment and future profits. That the planners will also get tourist attractions of a bygone civilization whose cultural artifacts can be served up as souvenirs in shops with restaurants serving ‘native’ cuisine may have been unintended, but are opportune, byproducts.  When Gaza is flushed free of its human squalor and the land and resources reintegrated methodically into the Jewish State, quietly and without fanfare, America’s Israeli terror over the land will end, or so it is presumed. Events could still go this quietly, and Palestinians will be likened to the Sioux. Will it be so easy to assure? 

Jabari was a perfect Kill: easy to transform from unsuspecting passenger in a car to calculating killer. The top military brass in Tel Aviv and Washington understand this as well as the servile journalists and sycophants whose job it is to lull even half-interested TV viewers across an ocean with “narratives” based on lies. “By nature of his position, Jabari has been responsible over the past decade for all anti-Israel terror activity emanating from the [Gaza] Strip,” a Shin Bet security agent said to the Times of Israel. Guilt by title; and the appropriation of the language of good for the Good, and bad for the Bad. Such logic will lead us to the alternatives already available, based as they are on an Original Myth: disengage from the rest of the natives until they turn to grass and stone, or pretend they were never there to begin with and proceed accordingly anyway: A land without a people for a people without a land. 

Since Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 the IDF has hit well over 1000 targets of “terror” in its self-defense against families and children. There is no reason we should have to imagine what this looks like in the painfully dilapidated territory of Gaza,  bombed and wrecked beyond repair  so often, so repeatedly, and with a wrath that defies comprehension that one has to ask how it is that people still go on with life as well as they do—lacking water, electricity, arable land, employment, safe homes, sewage plants, functioning flour mills and fresh air. There are a hundred thousand photographs of the pock-marked, bullet-sprayed buildings, homes, and mosques. There are over a thousand posters of the martyred Palestinian (and foreign) resistance fighters. There are shelves stacked and overflowing with video footage from various international media and endless records of the maimed, the imprisoned, the tortured and humiliated, the hospitalized, the bed-ridden and the dead. NGOs served a great purpose, historians will decide, in preserving the precise, detailed records of every name unjustly abused. There are the wounded souls themselves who carry a burden of unbearable loss; who weep in silence for the dead. A Palestinian Ghost Dance may conjure the ancestors of old but it will also offer more incentive to annihilate the eerie traces of human attempts at self-preservation. A manifest destiny is a bullet to the brain of a peaceful protester in Bil’in whose turn at Gaza is fast approaching. 

Gaza again is a living hell, all of it on record for the world to see. The death toll is climbing by the hour. The photos are everywhere but the New York Times has only a paragraph on the fear Israeli children experience from the loud noises and clamor. You have forgotten the other half of humanity, Mr. Publisher. Not the other half, really; the other 9/10ths of the world. When will you comment on the trauma the Gazan child experiences, and repeatedly, throughout his or her life?

 All the sounds and sights and smells of slaughter verify the damage and danger of aerial assaults and targeted killings: partment buildings still buzzing with human activity when missiles pierced through their ceilings offer up their dead and wounded to the deafening skies. Progressive US President Barack Obama and his allies applaud Israel’s masterful techniques of preventive war as self-defense; its sophistication at using state of the art weaponry against mosques, homes, markets and schools; re-emphasize at press conferences the right of Israel to defend itself against the human cattle they have justly corralled into densely packed camps to be bound and slaughtered or starved and transferred elsewhere. All of it is happening again, today, before our very eyes; before the universal documents proclaiming the rights of mankind and international humanitarian law; before the leaders who have so eagerly abandoned due process and civil liberties but fear the rising tide of rebellion in the Middle East and elsewhere? How dare we pontificate on the atrocities of Damascus after sponsoring such a Juggernaut for Jerusalem? For Gaza? What educated public can still claim they didn’t know? How can anyone any longer pretend the earth was not boiling beneath us like lava under an active volcano?

About Jennifer Loewenstein

Jennifer Loewenstein is faculty associate of Middle East Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; LEAP project administrator (http://www.leapsummerprogram.org); freelance journalist; and founder of the Carol Chomsky Memorial Fund (www.chomskyfund.org) Currently on leave in Washington DC, Jennifer’s email is [email protected]

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9 Responses

  1. piotr
    November 19, 2012, 12:32 pm

    “Del Santiago Matamoros a Santiago Mataindios. Crónicas de Indias.1.”

    From “Saint James Slay the Moors Slayer to Saint James slay the Indians. Cronicles of the Indias.”

    According to official hagiography, St. James was as pacifist as your average saint. But Spanish battle from the time of reconquista was “Santiago mata moros”. Israel follows a long and rich tradition.

    Yet, I think that the target list of IDF will be open to challenge. It starts nicely with Ahmed Jabari, but to slake the thirst of Israeli street, it has to have thousands of positions. Like antennas on top of two buildings with press offices (and an infant son of BBC cameraman few days before). IDF issued an incredible warning to “stay away from all Hamas targets”. The question that may be debated now is if Gaza now constitutes “turkey shoot” or “Indian country”. There was also a Turkey shoot, so I guess it is Indian country this tima. Mataindios!

  2. LanceThruster
    November 19, 2012, 12:55 pm

    Israel is thoroughly through the looking glass. Words mean just what they want them to mean. No more, no less.

  3. seafoid
    November 19, 2012, 1:40 pm

    I think something changed today. Maybe it was the Sharon editorial in the JPost or the Ha’aretz poll that said 90%+ Israeli Jews support the carnage or the sense that the hasbara is failing or the 2 posters I know who abandoned Israel today or the only ones pro Israel on guardian.co.uk are those who are paid or the picture of the 4 dead siblings on one stretcher or maybe it is all of it together. Something in Zionism died today.

  4. Mooser
    November 19, 2012, 2:14 pm

    “or the 2 posters I know who abandoned Israel today”

    I haven’t yet had the pleasure of seeing that, but it’s still early, where I am.

    • seafoid
      November 19, 2012, 4:37 pm

      Patience, Mooser. Sumud

      This was one of the 2

      Mr. Ambassador, I have long been a supporter of your people and have defended your right to exist as a nation on many, many occasions, I have even, to my shame defended the indefensible by giving your people the benefit of the doubt, that I will do no more.

      I am absolutely sickened and disgusted by what your people are doing to the people of Gaza, I live in the US and I am appalled at the lack of airtime this atrocity is getting, and the governments of the world should hang their heads in shame!

      I know Mr. Ambassador that these words will be seen by blind eyes, I just thought I would send you this email to let you know that the people who pray for you and your people the world over are disgusted at your complete lack of humanity pertaining to the people of Gaza, how can you of all people not learn from the mistakes of the past?

      I beg you to use your influence to see reason and be the difference, help these people keep their lives and stop the killings for the love of God!

  5. eGuard
    November 19, 2012, 3:12 pm

    So J-Street‘s position is clear. Hailed as a sort of opening some years ago, they are about to merge with AIPAC. Done.

    This years it is Peter Beinart to be promising and brave. Well, since the start of this Israeli attack, he has written four pieces. link to thedailybeast.com
    One on money & the US Jewish community, two (!) on Murdoch’s tweet (when Israel is in trouble, always start about antisemitism, twice preferably). And one on the West Bank. Phil, you want my prediction for Beinart being a changer?

    • Mooser
      November 19, 2012, 3:49 pm

      “Phil, you want my prediction for Beinart being a changer?”

      I think we will see a bunch like this. Their move into sympathy or even advocacy for the Palestinians will be in exact proportion to how much the Palestinians are reduced. The less trouble they make for Zionism, the more they will like them. And when they are (as a factor, if not completely) eliminated, there will be an orgy of mourning and self-recrimination over them. It’s always easier to sympathise with someone who poses no threat to you.
      I wonder if any of them will recognise that they are doing that?

    • Woody Tanaka
      November 19, 2012, 5:59 pm

      Disgustingly, but par for the course for the zionist who is a supposed “liberal,” Beinart, in his discussion of Gaza (which, in the middle of a political analysis, actually discussed the Jewish myth about “Samson” — in the 21st fricking century, he’s bringing these ancient stories), did describe “long-suffering people.” Who are these “long-suffering people”??? You guessed it. He wasn’t talking about the victims of the israeli jack-boot in Gaza or even in West Bank, but the israelis themselves.

      Tell me again why Beinart has a reputation any different than that of Netanyahoo or the Moldovan Duce, Liberman?

  6. peters
    November 19, 2012, 5:15 pm

    Something in Zionism died today.

    this is very sweet but just plain wrong. there is way too much money lined up on their side. not sure you have any idea of the massive piles of money “they” have. and everyone with any power of any kind in the whole world knows it. and they kowtow to it too , no matter the idealogical persuasion. they have to kowtow to it.

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