In Opinion

This isn’t about rockets from Gaza. It’s about Israel fighting to maintain its control over Palestinian lives, and Palestinian land. It’s about Israel feeling able to commit war crimes with complete impunity. It’s about the world media indicating that Palestinian lives are worth less than Israeli lives. It’s about the fact that Palestinian children are being killed at the rate of one every three days. It’s about millions of Palestinians living under illegal occupation. It’s about the brutal siege on Gaza, and the third military assault on a trapped population in less than 6 years. It’s about more than 60 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel. It’s about Israeli racism and apartheid. It’s about ethnic cleansing. It’s about colonisation, and over 500,000 settlers. It’s about Israel’s systematic violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

It’s about Israel raining death and destruction on Gaza.

The death toll from Israel’s airstrikes in Gaza is rising rapidly – with Maan News saying that so far, 35 have been killed in Gaza, and over 300 wounded. This includes eight children who were killed in airstrikes on Gaza on 8 July.

These deaths are not isolated exceptions. Over 1,500 Palestinian children (in the West Bank and Gaza) have been killed by Israeli forces since 2000.

The Washington Post published video footage showing graphic images of Palestinians running from Israel’s air strikes.

It’s about Palestinian lives not being treated of equal value

The disproportionality of deaths has been analysed by media lens, who quote Channel 4’s Alex Thomson as offering a rare glimmer of dissent: ‘Curious to watch UK media living down to the Palestinian claim that 1 Israeli life is worth 1000 Palestinian lives.’

And successive Israeli governments have not been overly worried about calls for ‘restraint’. Remember 2008/9, when over 1500 Palestinians were killed in Gaza in the three weeks of Operation Cast Lead.

Owen Jones, lambasting the media bias, commented: ‘The macabre truth is that Israeli life is deemed by the western media to be worth more than a Palestinian life: here is the “hierarchy of death” at work. According to the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, 565 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces since January 2009, while 28 Israeli civilians and 10 Israeli security personnel have been killed. The asymmetry of this so-called conflict is reflected in the death toll, but it is not reflected in the coverage.’

And even this horror isn’t enough for some…

Israel Hayom’s editor-in-chief said Gaza “must be returned to the Stone Age”, and called Hamas a “snake (that) must be defanged.

Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s murder has further exposed the racism at the heart of the Israeli state.

Israeli Knesset Member (and Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman) Ayelet Shaked called for the killing of Palestinian mothers giving birth to “little snakes”

 

It’s about Israeli incitement to violence and racial hatred

Following the announcement that three bodies of the missing Israeli youth had been found on 30 June ( PSC issued a statement about their murders), Israeli leaders incited the mobs, including Netanyahu, by their calls for ‘vengeance’ against ‘human animals’, and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon talked about “settling the score”.

A horrific escalation of racism and violence was unleashed upon Palestinians, as the Israeli State intensified its strategy of collective punishment following the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers.

On 3 July, 17 year old Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdair was abducted and burnt to death by Israeli terrorists.

Mohammed’s body was found in Jerusalem after a day and evening of Israeli protests that turned into mobs streaming through the streets of the Old City and east Jerusalem chanting ‘Death to Arabs’. Palestinians were pulled from their cars and beaten, and protesters were met with rubber bullets and tear gas.

Despite video evidence of the abduction, which Mohammed’s family released to international media, rather than directly handing over to the Israeli police, in the hope that it would force action to investigate and prosecute those responsible, the hasbara internet was buzzing with initial attempts to blame his family and call it an ‘honour killing’ – which also utilised the ‘pinkwashing’ meme that all Israelis are gay-friendly, whilst Palestinians are all homophobic.

Finally, six settler extremists were arrested over Mohammed’s murder, and there is currently an investigation underway into their involvement with an attempted abduction.

Tarek Abu Khdeir

Whilst watching his cousin Mohammed’s funeral, 15-year old Tarek was handcuffed, brutally beaten until he was unconscious, and detained by Israeli police. Unlike other Palestinian children, he is a US citizen, and international outrage meant that Tarek received medical care and was released to house arrest. As Philip Weiss points out, ‘The brutal beating of a 15-year-old Palestinian-American boy by Israeli forces in Jerusalem is proving to be a landmark moment in coverage of the conflict, as American media are reporting Tarek Abu Khdeir’s story in a straightforward manner for once. Their sympathetic reports are bringing the Palestinian experience back here as never before.’ It received widespread media coverage. http://mondoweiss.net/2014/07/unprecedented-palestinian-experience.html

Tarek’s mother, Suha Abu Khdeir, said that Tarek and his parents were in Jerusalem for a family visit, the first in 11 years. ‘“We came expecting a beautiful trip’.

His mother pointed out that if Tariq weren’t a US citizen “he’d be just pushed to the side like a dog. He’d be left to rot in jail.” Like other Palestinian children beaten and abducted by Israeli police and soldiers. Nearly 200 are currently rotting in Israeli jails.

Opposition to Israel’s slaughter

Opposition from within Israel included from the former head of the Shin Bet who blasted at “The illusion that ‘price tag’ attacks are just a few slogans on the walls and not really racism; the illusion that everything can be solved with a little more force; the illusion that the Palestinians will just accept all that we are doing in the West Bank and not respond, despite their rage, frustration and worsening economic situation; the illusion that the international community will not impose sanctions on us; that Israel’s frustrated Arab citizens will not ultimately take to the streets over the lack of treatment of their problems; and the Israeli public will keep submissively accepting the government’s incompetent response to the social gaps that its policies have only worsened, when corruption continues to eat away at all that is good, and so on and so on.”

Journalist Rachel Shabi pointed out that in the dominant media narrative: ‘Palestinians watching Western media cover current events wonder now, as always, why the “cycle of violence” narrative never starts with their pain, with their killed children, or even with the daily violence of the Israeli occupation.’

Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy has written some hard-hitting articles covering the obscenities that are taking place. In one article, he commented: ‘Israel never really wanted peace. Israel has never, not for a minute, treated the Palestinians as human beings with equal rights. It has never viewed their distress as understandable human and national distress…The change will not happen on its own, from within Israeli society, as long as that society continues to behave as it does. The Palestinians have made more than one mistake, but their mistakes are marginal. Basic justice is on their side, and basic rejectionism is the Israelis’ purview. The Israelis want occupation, not peace’

UK- based Jews for Justice for Palestinians said: As Israel visits yet another onslaught on Gaza it again kills innocent civilians, creates a dangerous escalation and violates fundamental ethical principles, including Jewish principles. In the strongest terms, we urgently call on all Jews to call on the Israeli Government to stop Operation Protective Edge and to agree a just peace with the Palestinian unity government.”

US-based Jewish Voice for Peace said ‘We refuse to mourn only the deaths of Palestinians, or only the deaths of Israelis. But that does not mean we can ignore the enormous power difference between Israelis and Palestinians, or pretend it is just a “cycle of violence” with no root cause or context. Each of these horrific incidents that harms both peoples happen in the context of an ongoing occupation, itself inherently a system of daily violence. And it is a system that by its very nature puts the lives, dignity, and human rights of all in jeopardy.’

 

And the Chicago based Jews for Justice in Palestine spoke out, saying ‘We say ‘No More!’ to the racism, apartheid, and occupation being committed by the Israeli state in our name’

Journalist William Saletan exposed the hypocrisy of house demolitions: The Israeli government destroyed the homes of Palestinian murder suspects. Will it do the same to the homes of Jewish murder suspects? He said: ‘As a Jew, I can’t believe I’m reading this. How can Israelis defend a policy that deliberately makes babies and old people homeless? How can they rationalize one punishment for Arabs and another for Jews? What’s the point of a Jewish homeland without a Jewish soul? Muhammad Khdeir’s parents have spoken the truth. Israel has two choices. Destroy the homes of the Jews arrested for his murder. Or renounce the demolition policy, forever.’