Israel’s dogs of war
A Defining Moment for
the Human Rights Movement
January 2-4, 2009
Israel’s dogs of war have been baying for blood for some time now. They
have sniffed their prey with ravenous lust as if they have been the ones
starved of food instead of the Palestinians whom they have primed for
slaughter. Now the pack is encircling Gaza, teeth bared and snarling, while
others do their dirty work from the skies. To them, the blood of women and
children smells the same as that of the menfolk who fight to defend them.
If that description offends readers, then ethnic cleansing might be more
palatable a term, or genocide used to such chilling effect in the last half
century, although its focus was never the Zionist plan to cleanse Palestine
of its people. The crimes and guilt run the full gamut of planning,
executing, collaborating, watching and pretending that one does not see.
Ah, watching and pretending – they are the reasons that the perpetrators of
history’s horrors can carry out their deeds at all. Only when it is all
over, do we whimper “we just didn’t see” and then more brazenly, “never
again” until it suits us to remain silent once more.
We have seen such massacres before: Deir Yassin, Lydda, Sabra and Shatila,
Jenin, Beit Hanoun and many more. While Israel serves up the same shabby
reason for its dastardly deeds – security – it double dips and reduces one
part of Palestine to rubble, and with the world looking on and distracted,
it grabs more land from another part of Palestine to consolidate its illegal
settlement project in the occupied West Bank.
A world conditioned to genocide of systematic wholesale slaughter and mass
graves, finds it difficult to accept genocide in slow motion. However, the
immense suffering of Palestinian dispossession, displacement, transfer, exile,
occupation, collective punishment and mass imprisonment, is constantly
drowned out by Israel’s claim to unending victimhood built on the legacy of
the holocaust – a different time, a different place, different people and
Since then, all is manufactured: God’s design, the clash of civilizations,
“the war on terror”. We have heard over and over again the clarion call of
democracy, security and liberty being sounded over the corpses of people
who have been denied their basic human rights and justice. And shamefully,
the two-faced, craven accomplices of the Arab world sit on the sidelines
hoping that these human sacrifices will appease the real lords of the puppet
states they rule. Like Pontius Pilate, they wash their hands of sixty years
of associated guilt by reciting pious platitudes while concerned only with
their own crumbling puny seats of power. How little is the lesson learned
from history, if at all – when one is expendable, so will others be also. Their
time will come, but not before rivers of blood flow into the sea of Gaza.
Hamas has become the whipping boy of the Israeli/US camp and the Arab
fiefdoms alike. Before them, it was Arafat and the PLO. An independent
Palestine, whether secular or Islamic, was never in their game-plan. The
whole 15-year peace process has been a sham, from Oslo to Annapolis.
Instead, the Palestinians have seen their land diminished further, the viability
of a state eroded and their own existence threatened as never before. In turn,
Israel’s demands have become evermore shrill and imperious, clamouring
for recognition and honours it does not deserve and receiving them from
countries cowed into its service. Who would have imagined that one tiny
pariah state could hold so much of the world hostage to its whims?
Israel’s leaders have never hidden their expansionist goals. The imminent
elections now between rivals Ehud Barak, Binyamin Netanyahu and
Tzipi Livni will be over who can deliver the ultimate Greater Israel. With the
attack on Gaza, Barak and Livni are each trying to position themselves to
sweep to victory in the wake of a Hamas wipe-out and the delivery of a
shredded society in Gaza. Netanyahu is waiting in the wings and likely to
emerge the victor whatever this military assault achieves. From past
experience, that will be yet another cease-fire: senseless blood spilled that
changes nothing for the Palestinians or the Israelis. It does, however,
raise the spectre of the transfer of some 1.5 million exhausted Palestinians.
The West Bank would be next – subjugation in labour camps under a further
weakened and acquiescent Palestinian Authority or another population
transfer of the remaining 2.6 million Palestinians out of their homeland
Transfer is just another euphemism for ethnic cleansing and is no mere
conjecture. Tzipi Livni has recently suggested the transfer to the truncated
West Bank of almost 1.5 million Palestinians living as second-class citizens
in Israel, despite their roots in the land and residency long before Israel
was created. As for the 4 million Palestinian refugees living in camps in
the surrounding Arab states and who have a legitimate claim to return to the
homes taken from them by Israel, their fate would be absorption into their
host countries, with no compensation, reparation or justice for the
catastrophic losses they have endured for over sixty years.
Gaza right now is the defining moment for defending Palestinian human
rights and our own. The dogs of war, whoever they may be, are never very
far off. All we have is our common humanity to drive them away. Let
us begin by outrage over what is happening to the Palestinians, for well may
we rage alone if the dogs of war ever decide to turn on us.
Sonja Karkar is the founder of Women for Palestine and a co-founder of
Australians for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia. She has written numerous
articles on Palestine, which have been published in various e-journals and
newspapers. Email: [email protected]