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West’s failure to act will be cause of the next Gaza massacre

FeaturesIsrael/Palestine
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The contrasting images coming out of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories on Monday could not have been starker – or more disturbing.

Faced with protests at the perimeter fence in Gaza, Israeli snipers killed dozens of unarmed Palestinians and wounded more than 2,000 others, including children, women, journalists and paramedics, in a hail of live fire. Amnesty, the international human rights organisation, rightly called it a “horror show”.

Such horror is now so routine that TV anchors could only headline the news as the worst day of bloodshed in Gazain four years, when Israel massacred civilians in its last major military assault.

Already gasping from the chokehold of Israel’s decade-long blockade of Gaza, local hospitals are now collapsing from the weight of casualties.

A few kilometres away, meanwhile, Israelis were partying.

So-called “liberal” Tel Aviv was busy “chicken dancing” with Netta, who had just won the Eurovision Song Contest and gave a free open-air performance to celebrate.

And in Jerusalem, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was glad-handing a bevy of US officials, including Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and policy adviser. They were there to beam for the cameras as the US opened its embassy in the occupied city.

The move pre-empts negotiations over the city’s fate and sabotages Palestinian ambitions for East Jerusalem to become the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Netanyahu’s grin said it all. As he mouthed platitudes about “Middle Eastern peace”, he finally had Washington’s blessing for all of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. And next year Europe will give its implicit blessing too by hosting the Eurovision Song Contest there.

But amid the euphoria, a few Israeli commentators understood that politics is about more than power – it’s about imagery too. The champagne-quaffing in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem while Gaza drowned in blood left a profoundly sour taste in the mouth.

There was more than a whiff of hypocrisy too in statements about “defending borders” from a state that has refused to declare its borders since its creation exactly 70 years ago – as well as from a Netanyahu government currently trying to establish a Greater Israel over the Palestinian territories.

But the hypocrisy was not restricted to Israel and Washington, which parroted Mr Netanyahu’s talking points.

There was an ugly equivocation from other western leaders. They spoke of “regret”, “tragedy” and “concern at the loss of life”, as though an act of God had struck Gaza, not an order from Israeli commanders to quell the Palestinian urge for freedom with live ammunition.

Equally dishonest was talk of the “need for restraint from both sides” and “clashes”, as though the protesters had been tussling with Israeli soldiers in hand-to-hand combat rather than being coldly picked off through telescopic sights.

Israeli politicians and media have desperately searched for a moral justification for these executions. They have talked of “kite terrorism” and a supposed stone-throwing threat to soldiers positioned hundreds of yards away.

While thousands of Palestinians have been executed or maimed, how many Israelis have been harmed in the past six weeks of Gaza’s protests? Precisely none.

This is a strange kind of terror.

The reality is that tiny Gaza is becoming rapidly uninhabitable, as the United Nations has repeatedly warned. For more than a decade Israel has blockaded it from land, air and sea, while intermittently pummelling the enclave with missiles and military invasions.

A senior New York Times correspondent tweeted on Monday that Gaza’s Palestinians looked as though they had a “death wish”. But two million Palestinians – a population rapidly growing – are inmates in what is effectively a shrinking prison, whose store rooms are almost bare.

Tens of thousands of them have shown they are prepared to risk their lives not for some death cult but to win freedom, the most precious human impulse of all.

And they have preferred confrontational, non-violent resistance as a way to shame Israel and the world into recognising their plight.

And yet instead, Israel has stripped them of all agency by falsely claiming that they are pawns in a game by Hamas to pressure Israel.

But in so far as Hamas is trying to influence Israel, what is its aim?

Last week, a gloating Israeli media reported that Hamas was quietly appealing for a long-term truce with Israel, effectively renouncing the Palestinians’ right to violently resist Israel’s occupation.

It would not be the first time. But whereas once Hamas sought a truce in return for a two-state solution, now it is said to have requested simply an end to the blockade and a chance to rebuild Gaza.

Even this minimal concession is rejected by Israel. Instead an Israeli minister responded to Monday’s slaughter by proposing that Israel assassinate the Hamas leadership.

Israel may be without remorse, but are western leaders feeling shamed?

Apart from South Africa and Turkey, none has so far withdrawn an ambassador. There are no calls for embargos on sales of arms, no demands for war crimes investigations, no threats of trade sanctions.

And no plans, of course, for the kind of “humanitarian intervention” western governments have keenly promoted in other parts of the Middle East where civilians are under threat.

For seven decades, the west has pampered Israel at every turn. The lack of any meaningful punishment for violating Palestinian rights led directly to Monday’s massacre.

And the failure to inflict a price on Israel for this massacre – in fact, the reverse: visible rewards with a relocated US embassy and the chance to host the Eurovision Song Contest – will lead to the next massacre, and the one after.

Handwringing is not enough. It is time for anyone with a conscience to act.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook
About Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is jonathan-cook.net.

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25 Responses

  1. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    May 16, 2018, 11:40 am

    I don’t think the embassy changes anything. The biggest dynamic in the next decade of Israel/Palestine will be the collapse of Gaza. And that will destroy Israeli smugness and projections of indefinite calm. It will throw the IDF into ongoing panic. Israel will have no hasbara to fight with. Gaza is like a sewage tank hanging in the sky over Tel Aviv. The next stage of the conflict will be the purest chaos. Israel has spent the last 50 years saying Smoch alai- trust me.

    There is a price for overdoing it. And US Jews will not hang around either. Israel is a Zionist Hebrew clusterfuck. Israelis will become untouchable in Europe. Nobody will take any refugees either. Pottery Barn rules to apply.

  2. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    May 16, 2018, 11:53 am

    RE: “Handwringing is not enough. It is time for anyone with a conscience to act.” ~ J Cook

    NARCISSISTIC PSYCHOPATHS/SOCIOPATHS WANT TO KNOW:
    A conscience? What the hell is that?

    • JLewisDickerson
      JLewisDickerson
      May 16, 2018, 12:13 pm

      P.S.
      10 Traits of a Psychopath
      3,417,150 views
      Psych2Go
      Published on Aug 24, 2016
      Superficial charm, a grandiose notion of self-worth, the need for stimulation and impulsiveness, pathological lying, the ability to manipulate others and a lack of remorse and empathy.

  3. John O
    John O
    May 16, 2018, 11:56 am

    A former colleague of mine posted this on Facebook today – Irish TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, blasting the Israeli ambassador to Ireland in 2014. I’d not seen it before. The ambassador’s response reminds me so much of what white South African politicians used to do – they were great at dividing people up into ethnic groups; lousy at considering them as human beings.

    • Marnie
      Marnie
      May 16, 2018, 12:57 pm

      “The time for treating you as a normal state is over, because you’re not behaving like a normal state”.

      Awesome and thanks for posting this – Mr. Barrett is a joy to behold.

  4. Citizen
    Citizen
    May 16, 2018, 11:58 am

    “It is time for anyone with a conscience to act.”

    Please suggest how, beyond spreading the word on social media & contacting our congress folks. I’m sure I am not the only one here who has been doing those things for years, with no effective results, usually no or barely any acknowledgement. Responses from my congress critters are especially insulting in that they just give me boilerplate hasbara.

    • inbound39
      inbound39
      May 16, 2018, 6:11 pm

      Citizen…….the answer lies in history. I am 64 and a Vietnam vet that served in the Australian Navy. The Vietnam War was stopped largely by the Protest Movement that spread Globally much like BDS is doing now. People Power stopped reinforcements being sent to replace or strengthen troop numbers in Vietnam. As a serving member I watched troops ground to a halt by not having the manpower to defend the positions they were instructed to hold. The sheer volume and size and number of protesters hitting the streets to oppose the War caused Politicians to act. The same has to happen with Israel. The hard part in this case is the stranglehold Zionism has on the US and European Governments by infiltrating them. First target should be Friends of Israel Groups that are agents solely for the Zionist Regime of Israel and included should be ADL,AIPAC and JDL. People Power is our only effective method. Vietnam Protest groups used Stop Work to Stop the War which encompassed rolling Stop Work Strikes. The Governments had no choice but to withdraw from Vietnam when troops were deserting in droves and tax money dwindled due to businesses not producing enough money to pay tax. Politicians lose power when their pockets get hit.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        May 17, 2018, 9:18 am

        Not relevant because, mainly 1.) There is no US military draft; 2) SCOTUS has totally legitimatized the current US campaign finance system, of which the Israel Lobby takes full advantage; 3) Since Bobby Kennedy tried, nobody influential has even tried to make AIPAC register under FARA. 4) US main tv news media is now totally in corporate America’s pocket & US government is too on all things regarding foreign policy re Israel.
        PS I am a Vietnam Era veteran; I served in US Army combat engineers.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      May 18, 2018, 12:39 am

      Not possible within the US system.
      We have to experience defeat and bankruptcy first, as a world power.
      We can help by effectively supporting any resistance to US imperialism.
      One way to start it is to help Palestinian resistance get rid of its Quislings, to finally start hurting the occupier again after all these years.
      No one can guess how it will end but the history of 20th century decolonization and resistance to fascism gives a little hope. It certainly is better than today’s masochist whining.

  5. Keith
    Keith
    May 16, 2018, 8:34 pm

    JONATHAN COOK- “Israel may be without remorse, but are western leaders feeling shamed?”

    Surely you jest. US/Israel made an example of Gaza to show that there will be no mercy anywhere. No compromise, no concessions. The empire is on a rampage which will likely intensify in the near future. Endless war everywhere. Hegemony or death.

    “If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely, and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war, our children will sing great songs about us years from now.” (Richard Perle) https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/richard_perle_183952i

  6. Boomer
    Boomer
    May 17, 2018, 9:03 am

    Thanks, Mr. Cook, for an excellent essay and heartfelt, if futile, plea for action.

    Each morning I check the generic Google News front page (not tailored to my interests) to see what Google is highlighting. Today there was nothing about Gaza. So I clicked on “more world news” for a longer list of headlines. Still no Gaza. Of course, one can do a search on Gaza, and I found lots of hits that way.

    At CNN, Thane Rosenbaum tells us why “Gaza is not Selma”:
    https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/16/opinions/israel-scapegoated-on-hamas-violence-rosenbaum-opinion/index.html

    At WaPo, Loveday and Eglash consider whether Israel used excessive force, or justified “mob control” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/israels-use-of-fatal-fire-in-gaza-excessive-force-or-justified-mob-control/2018/05/16/435dc998-5856-11e8-9889-07bcc1327f4b_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c5aa590a9fe0

    There are many more, of course. On the whole, however, I infer that it’s no longer frontpage news, and not much has changed in the U.S. media and political worlds.

  7. Citizen
    Citizen
    May 17, 2018, 9:21 am

    Why Bibi Netanyahu embraces anti-Semites and ignores the Palestinians: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/05/why-bibi-netanyahu-embraces-anti-semites-and-ignores-the-palestinians.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_tw_ru via @slate (He likes the status quo as it secures #Israel, not necessarily world jewry)

  8. fivishmail
    fivishmail
    May 31, 2018, 12:35 pm

    I am looking for objective facts in the above article and find none. Even the testimony of Hamas that its armed operatives were the majority of those shot is missing. The fact that women and children were given the day off to be bussed to the border (or else) is missing. The clear pictures and videos of tyre burning, stone throwing and planting explosive devices is missing. The use of AK47s by Hamas operatives is missing.
    The Palestinian ’cause’ is bougus, a creation of the KGB in 1964. Nobody with access to the truth can believe a word of what is written on this web site. Its all propaganda to support the Islamisation of the world. Recall that the Koran in 5:20-21 says that Allah gave the Holy Land (Israel) to the jews. How dare you defy Allah.

    • eljay
      eljay
      May 31, 2018, 12:48 pm

      || fivishmail: … Nobody with access to the truth can believe a word of what is written on this web site. … ||

      Sounds like you have access to – and have been stealing drinks from – Steve Grover’s big bottle of truth.

      || … Recall that the Koran in 5:20-21 says that Allah gave the Holy Land (Israel) to the jews. How dare you defy Allah. ||

      So you’re saying that the Koran is “the truth”? Better tell that to the Zionists.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      May 31, 2018, 8:08 pm

      “The Palestinian ’cause’ is bougus, a creation of the KGB in 1964.”

      That one is a keeper!

      • annie
        annie
        May 31, 2018, 8:25 pm

        i know — i cracked up.

      • catalan
        catalan
        May 31, 2018, 9:40 pm

        “Neither history nor morality is on your side” oldgeezer
        Both history and morality are on the side of equality, justice and brotherhood. That’s why the world is literally awash in generosity. I look at today’s world leaders – Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Sisi, Li – and I think, this world CAN become paradise.

      • Keith
        Keith
        June 1, 2018, 12:32 am

        CATALAN- ” I look at today’s world leaders – Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Sisi, Li ….”

        Cut the BS Catalan. I am reasonably sure that you aware that the world is run by the corporations and Wall Street, the guys you mention one cut above (well paid) flunkies. With the ascendancy of neoliberal globalization, the future looks bleak. We are headed for a new dark ages in the midst of a global ecological meltdown unless a nuclear war hastens humanity’s demise.

  9. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    May 31, 2018, 1:46 pm

    @fivishmail
    “Nobody with access to the truth can believe a word of what is written on this web site. Its all propaganda to support the Islamisation of the world”

    New Zio kid on the Mondoweiss block(sic). Sounds as if after only two visits if you are not enamoured of the site. So why don`t you just migrate to other sites and spend your leisure hours on those which deliver all the words that you believe in. Byeee – you will not be missed. Sorry I forgot before you leave and purely out of academic interest you understand – can you let us all have a link to your truth portal. Ta very much.

    • annie
      annie
      May 31, 2018, 1:51 pm

      ossi, he’s probably assigned to us. holed up in some room w/a crew of others on their computers doing the same thing. if he leaves another will take his place.

      • catalan
        catalan
        May 31, 2018, 2:11 pm

        “holed up in some room w/a crew of others on their computers” annie
        He may be earning some of the 30 million USD assigned to fight BDS. If he is making 50K a year, that would allow them to hire 600 people per annum. The money is of course wasted; but, having a job is a good thing in these touch economic times so perhaps that’s a minor saving grace.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        May 31, 2018, 5:48 pm

        “He may be earning some of the 30 million USD assigned to fight BDS.”

        That the US Zionist orgs were afraid to touch. Maybe they don’t feel like doing Israel’s laundry.

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer
        May 31, 2018, 9:26 pm

        @annie and catty

        Poor old catalan doesn’t seem to believe that there are rooms of people who Israel pays to post on social media.

        I wonder does he need nutty’s press anouncement of a new formation in the idf to do so? Pictures of them? Youtube videos (which used to be available) of Israel conducting classes on how to do so? Israel announcing it will pay uni students to do so?

        It’s real catalan. In all fairness it was either the us or the uk who made a similar announcement within the past two months (Israels was a few years ago) so they aren’t alone.

        The fact of the matter is a lot of Israel supporters on social media are paid to do so. It would have far less support than it appears to were it not for the shekels it spends.

        Neither history nor morality is on your side and history will show just how depraved Israel supporters are. I hope your children and grandchildren become aware of your online activity so they know the kind of person you are.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        June 1, 2018, 1:30 am

        “It would have far less support than it appears to were it not for the shekels it spends.”

        I would say Israel would have more support if they shut these egos-on-the-half-shell up, and tried two things:

        1) know when it’s time to shut up, and stop trying to excuse the inexcusable.
        2) get some kind of message discipline into their Web activity. Oh, besides “You must believe me, not your lying eyes!”

        But that’s probably just my ethnocentrism talking. I know we’re probably not any smarter than anybody else, but I never thought we were this stupid.

    • just
      just
      May 31, 2018, 2:17 pm

      Ay yi yi ! The zioperp/islamophobe picks an article from 2 weeks ago to make his/her grand entrance! I guess they don’t teach site navigation in those classes… sounds “bougus” to me.

      “KGB”?

      LOL.

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